Friday, February 25, 2011

Fighting for an Equal Education

How much would you pay to know your child is receiving the BEST education? And I mean including everything? Literacy, technology, physical fitness, math, science, social, college and career placement, etc. We all know by now that products for children with special needs are priced way above those of the 'average' child's needs. And in my case specifically, it is the blind child's need vs. the sighted child's needs. Now I've had six years experience with my daughter and adapting for her blindness and I understand the unfamiliarity of those whom are just now working with her. But when it comes to her education and therapy, their unfamiliarity or ignorance should not stand in the way of giving my daughter the education she needs- the education I know she deserves.

Technology is advancing faster than any of us can really keep up with in today's world. And that isn't a bad thing,  but rather something everyone should take full advantage of no matter what your situation. Yes, price can be a factor to what degree of technology you can afford, but most can afford something. Technology is being learned at an early age for most kids - consider the handheld computer learning/gaming devices, regular computers, most toys for children above age 3 are electronic! And most of them have input/output methods that are mostly visual.

So how is my daughter going to learn technology when her sighted peers are learning? She shouldn't have to already be behind them in learning for someone to speak up and say, hey let's give her a braille display to use with the computer so she can actually learn the braille letters more efficiently. You wouldn't teach a sighted child his alphabet only by letting him hear a CD, so why would you not give a blind child braille EVERYWHERE a sighted child is seeing the printed letters? And many people may think that this probably isn't an issue, but I promise you I am not the only mother of a blind child having to fight to get the school to emerge her in braille because they "don't think she is ready." Are you serious? Do you not give a sighted child books and learning ABC blocks and all those other millions of toys for children ages infant and up to be emerged into literacy?

Do you home school and take it on yourself so you know what your child is learning every day? But then it is hard enough to socialize a blind child with his peers. And with a child whose primary method of communication is strictly audio and loves to socialize. It doesn't seem fair to take that away by confining him to his home with somewhat limited means of socialization. The answer for me so far, has been to fight. Don't let the ignorance and laziness of the people in power of our children's education dictate what and how your child learns or doesn't learn. Sometimes it feels hopeless. People are lazy and in positions they should not be for a variety of reasons - laziness, ego trips. But who is ever going to know if someone doesn't point it out? Your child deserves the advocacy and so do all the other children in the same position. And the children who aren't even born yet but will deal with the same obstacles. It is up to society to change appropriately. It shouldn't be the old familiar "well that's the way we've always done it" mentality. That will never allow the ones who need it the most, to ever get where they should be. Change isn't usually easy and great things are worth fighting for.

I would pay every penny I could get my hands on.

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