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Fall 2009 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Amanda Huston, Student, Nevada, TX

Abstract: A student shares an essay she wrote about her solutions to challenges she encounters while traveling.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, deafblind, ataxia, orientation and mobility, accessibility, self-determination, personal experience

Did you ever get frustrated before? I had buildings and they all frustrate me. I have a lot of frustrations while traveling. I am solutions to deal with problems. I am very deafblind and have ataxia. Ataxia is a disorfrustrated about the buildings. der that makes my muscles weak. Because of my ataxia I have braces to help me walk. The back door of Dorm K was frustrat-I use a walker to travel and sometimes ing me because I could not open it. The even need to use a wheelchair. The doors, back door had a little step and it was hard construction, and elevators are part of the for me to open because there was no way for me to stand next to it with my walker or wheelchair to pull the door open. I was frustrated about it. I just sat and waited for someone to open the heavy doors for me. Melissa had to help because it was very hard for me. I was late to class because I could not open it, and I didn’t want to ask for help. I decided to e-mail Mr. Fain, TSBVI Principal, about it. Brenda Gregory (PT/OT Coordinator), Mr. Fain and John Daude (Director of Operations) all worked together to figure out what is easier for me. They made a little ramp and added a sidewalk on the west side of the door so it is easier for me to open the door independently.

The construction frustrates me too. I feel upset because they had to put a big fence around the middle of campus and it is very hard for people to walk around to get to class. I hate to walk far to my class because my balance is not good and my muscles get very tired easily. I decided to leave my class early so I would not be late.

I am excited about the new buildings but I did not like it when they tore down the buildings because I am very scared of the noise.

Sometimes the elevators are broken and it makes me frustrated and upset. It is very hard for me because I cannot walk up the stairs to my classroom on the third floor. When the elevators break I have to have class in different place, but I do not like that. One time I refused to listen and would not go to math class. I got in trouble and had to go to detention. I asked someone to e-mail the elevator worker and asked them to please fix the elevator.

I hate heavy doors, broken elevators, and construction because it is very hard for me to open heavy doors, walk up the stairs and get to my classes. I have good ways and bad ways to deal with problems. I will deal with the same things for the rest of my life. I am happy that I can deal with things.

Writing the essay

By Kay Pruett, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, TSBVI

Last spring, as construction began on campus at the Texas School for the Blind and Visualy Impaired, Amanda’s Language Arts class was continuing a study of the writing process. For her compare-and-contrast essay, Amanda chose to compare different solutions to the challenges she faces trying to independently negotiate architectural barriers. As part of the process, she read how other authors addressed different problems and possible solutions in their stories. She learned to identify the specific passages and language that described the problems and solutions in the stories and to clearly write about her own problems and solutions. In her essay, she presents an ineffective and an effective solution for each challenge she describes.

To follow the writing process, Amanda began with a list of ideas. In class, we discussed the list and created a five-paragraph structure that would support writing about the ideas she had selected. She wrote her first draft within this organizational structure. In the revising stage, Amanda improved the organization and sequencing of sentences within each paragraph by rearranging strips of paper with one sentence written on each strip. She used a CCTV for this task. Then with her strips taped together in the new order, she learned to “cut and paste” on the computer to revise her document to match the paper document. Finally she edited for spelling, grammar and clarity.

Throughout the process, Amanda approached the challenges of the writing task with the same persistence she writes about in dealing with architectural challenges. What a great life skill!