I saw magic happen yesterday
Yesterday was a lot of fun. I had the chance to spend much of the afternoon with the students that inspire me the most. The students at the Ohio State School for the Blind.
The place is amazing because of the people in it. Mostly the students. What they’re able to do with no or low vision is amazing.
Have you ever solved a math problem that you couldn’t see?
Think back to the last time you took a math class. Was it calculus, trigonometry, or geometry? How about algebra? How could you have done it with your eyes closed?
Amy (name changed to protect the youth) had math homework. She has no vision. This wasn’t any old math problem. It’s was a very long set of algebra polynomials. I called it an equation and then Amy corrected me and said that it was an “expression” because there is no equals sign. The teacher later told me it was a polynomial.
I could remember, being in high school, looking for hours at different problems trying to figure them out. I recall having to write it out so I could see it. I had to write it out so I could think it out. I had to write it out so I could solve it.
Amy didn’t have that luxury. She had to “write it out” on a braille note. That’s a fancy way of saying, a typewriter for braille. But it’s not that simple. On this “typewriter,” there isn’t a key for every letter of the alphabet and a braille key for the numbers. There are only symbols that are created by pressing multiple keys at once. Typing braille is an art form in itself. Then you have to be able to read it.
The students that can do this are usually neurotypical. That means they can think like you but have a visual impairment.
She would have to fill an 8-1/2 x 11-inch piece of braille paper (it’s thinker than normal paper) in order to solve the problem. Or, in this case, “simplify the polynomial”.
I sat there in awe and amazement. She was frustrated that it was taking her so long. I tried to encourage her and tell her that she was doing a great job. I told her that we all feel that way at times. She knows that her visual impairment makes it more difficult for her. She “sees” others going much faster. She see’s ” those around her finishing before her. Why can’t she get ahead or even catch up?
It’s the hand she’s been dealt. She’s doing beautiful work.
What is it that you can’t see, but it’s right in front of you?
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