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Summer 99 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Choosing to Carry a Full Golf Bag: An Informed Choice

By Terrell I. Murphy, Executive Director, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind)

I received an e-mail recently that grabbed my attention. It read: "Golf teaches that even though you may not always win, you do have a good shot at being the best you can be." I don't know who the author was, but the person would make a good rehabilitation professional. Whether a blind child strives to be a nuclear physicist or an adult with a vision impairment wants to work in supported employment, our job is to improve their shot at being the best they can be.

A person's chances of becoming a golf pro are pretty slim without golf lessons. Learning to play with only one wood and a putter reduce those chances even more. I'm not a golfer, but I know that a seven-iron will get you closer to the hole from 100 yards out than a putter. A golfer needs all the tools of the trade to achieve the maximum results --- instruction, practice, and experience with a range of woods and irons.

In rehabilitation, as in golf, the chances of a blind or visually impaired person achieving his or her best are greater with instruction, practice, experience, and a full set of skills from which to choose to travel, read, write, communicate and take care of personal needs. Choosing the right iron for the distance in golf equates to choosing the right skill to do a particular job in rehabilitation terms.

Each year TCB serves as coach and instructor to thousands of people with severe visual losses who are in the process of choosing the skills that will allow them to be the best they can be. One of the challenges most people must overcome in this process is tackling lessons that may seem unneeded or hard at the time. A good example is learning braille. Braille is an invaluable reading and writing tool for people without vision as well as people with limited vision. Even a person whose vision is stable lives in an unstable environment. There will be times when large print is not available, the lighting is dismal, or the CCTV won't fit in the suitcase. Braille is not the answer in all situations, but it is definitely an efficient option in others. Similarly, many adults without usable vision may not realize the value of being able to read braille because their current system of using taped information seems to be working well enough. Adding the option of braille to the person's golf bag provides another choice when the tape player starts eating tapes for lunch.

Having a wide range of skills maximizes any person's opportunity to succeed at whatever he or she wants to do. TCB's job is to share what we know in such a manner that the person makes wise choices from an informed perspective. I love what my respected colleague, Phil Hatlen, said so eloquently in the last issue of SEE/HEAR: "What education and rehabilitation should be doing is developing independent choice-makers, proud and productive people who know themselves well and will not let anyone else take charge of their lives." I agree completely with Phil. TCB is committed to providing services that result in Texans who are confident and in charge of their lives. My challenge to you as people with choices is to fill your bags with every skill you will need to be the best you can be.

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Last Revision: September 4, 2003