A Sad Oversight

By Beth Sanderson

I have a friend who is an Elementary Special Education major at a local university. Given that we’ve been friends for years, and both have a passion for education, we often discuss our experiences, and ask each other’s opinions.

About a year ago, she was taking a class with a couple of girls who were both completely blind. This class, which I’d rather not specifically identify, often has blind students, and so you would think that the teacher would be well versed in making accommodations to her assignments, and in-class activities, to make sure all of her students would be able to participate.

You would think wrong.

The sad truth is that that teacher often neglected simple steps, such as verbalizing information on the board or PowerPoint, and frequently gave visual activities, such as reading handouts and manipulating notecards, or the like, and would simply tell the two girls “Not to worry about it.”

My friend, perhaps more sensitive to this oversight thanks to having a visually impaired friend, often took it upon herself to go sit at their table and figure out how to include them in the assignments and activities. That’s awesome, and I’m personally overjoyed she took the initiative when others wouldn’t have, but the sad fact is she shouldn’t have had to.

This sort of treatment goes against what teachers should want for their students. These girls had accommodations in place, and the teacher should have done her part to meet them, and really, she could have easily by contacting the school’s Office for Disability Services.

But the fault isn’t hers alone. Both girls knew they were missing valuable information and learning opportunities, and if the teacher wasn’t willing to do her part, they should have been willing to advocate for themselves. I know no one likes to be “that person that makes waves”, but when it comes to your education, isn’t it worth it?