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Summer 2007 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Disability Awareness Pays Off Not Only for a Young Lady, but Also for a Community!

By Brian Jones, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Klein ISD, Houston, TX

Abstract: An Orientation and Mobility Specialist shares his experience in watching his neighbor transform from a student who had to do a school project to a young lady who wanted to share information on deafblindness with others around her.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, deafblind, disability awareness, student achievement

Opportunities to learn present themselves in the funniest of places. I live in the Humble ISD region, and teach Orientation & Mobility skills to students with visual impairments in the Klein ISD region. My next-door neighbor, Abby Richey, is the type of child who is curious about learning new things. She loves to watch an adult engage in an activity, and asks a question every second until she understands the whole process. I have enjoyed seeing her get along with her siblings, reading the best books possible, and teaching her to ride her bike. She is noticeably an active learner.

In March, Abby approached me and indicated that in her second grade class, they had divided into teams to do research on individuals who have made an impact on society. She asked if I knew anything about Helen Keller.

I began a conversation with Abby about societies' views during Helen's life, her method of communication, the way she accessed information, and how Ann Sullivan worked with Helen to teach her vital concepts. Through our conversation, Abby began to understand just how remarkable Helen Keller really was. Abby began asking questions such as, "Where do I get Braille?" and "How do I learn Sign Language?" I provided resources for her to research the life of Helen Keller and then tools for her to show her classmates including Braille, Abacus, and Sign Language Charts. Her excitement and joy were hard to contain!

For over a month, I saw Abby transform from a student who had to do a school project to a young lady who wanted to share the information on deafblindness with others around her. I saw a deeper sense of compassion and understanding for those who have disabilities.

Abby Richey's research on Helen Keller won first place in the Humble School District's Documentary/Newscast Division for Humble ISD's Technology Award. On May 12, 2007, Abby received an achievement award for her hard work from Dr. Guy Sconzo, Superintendent for Humble ISD, and also had the opportunity to show others her project and increase their knowledge on the issues of deafblindness. Way to go Abby!!!!