After travelling a great distance to San Francisco and the Bay Area to spend 2 weeks giving motivational and educational workshops to DCARA, NorCal Association for the Deaf Blind and the Bay Area Deaf Community, I am finally at home nursing a cold and catching up with news and blogs.
It was such a wonderful experience being able to provide these training workshops for sighted people and those who are Deaf Blind; it has given me reason to go on in life believing I have a purpose in life – and that is to empower and educate people about the world of silence and darkness. I sincerely hope that the workshops I provided were of great asset to the Bay Area community, eventhough many did not show up because there was a USFlagFootball for the Deaf game going on the same night in Fremont. The people who attended the workshops, I encourage you to spread that knowledge and promote tolerance among Deaf people for their blind community members, brothers & sisters, family and friends.
Many, many, many thanks to Rossana C. Reis, an advocate with the DCARA. She worked hard to make the workshops happen, for she wanted her co-workers and the community she works with to be aware about Rossana’s Usher Syndrome and how they can work with her to improve accessibility to clientele and to the community without feeling burdened, ignorant or intolerant. I hope this has opened doors for her.
On another note, I am beyond thrilled to mention that there are two more blogs out there in the Deaf blogosphere that cover the issues and lives of Deaf Blind (hood). One is about a sighted, hearing mother who had just adopted a sweet girl named Rebecca, who has Usher Syndrome. The mother is writing about her experiences with Rebecca and seeks our advice on how to cope, experience and empower within Rebecca’s vision loss. To read her blog, go to UshersMom.blogspot.com .
A blog written by a Southern mother who is Deaf Blind and raising two children that tells of her feelings, experiences and frustrations with the world out there is a must-read. Here’s hoping she has the courage to go on writing about her experiences of parenting children as a Deaf Blind mother – because I know there are scores of Deaf Blind people out there who either are parents themselves or too scared to because they think they would fail due to their vision loss. Read up on rustycyot.blogspot.com .
I want to see MORE blogs/vlogs out there by, for, and of the Deaf Blind community. I know many of us resonate the feeling of being compared to Helen Keller, forcing us to live in her shadow. Helen Keller, while a very respectful figure and much admired for her successes and education, has passed on nearly 50 years ago. And a lot of us are still being stereotyped as the Helen Kellers of the world. Now is the time to break that surface, and bring out the real us.
A thought here: Now that the United States government is going through Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration, I wonder if there are any revisions made to the ADA to cover the needs of Deaf Blind people and children? For the longest time, the ADA only focused on Hearing Blind and Deaf Sighted – but there was a muddy, gray matter in the middle which policies focused on accessibility & granting money to support the needs of Deaf Blind people. Can someone fill me in on whether the Restoration is indeed working on that section?
In other news, I wanted to let my readers know that my trip to Nigeria has been postponed until February. Here’s the scoop on what happened:
VSO’s In Country Trainings in Nigeria occur during October, February and May. Since my visa could not be processed in time for the October ICT, I was allowed to go to Nigeria in November for an unabridged ICT and my 6 weeks’ time with my two Support Service Providers had been cut to 4. Two weeks before departure to Nigeria in November, I was alerted that the visas for my two SSPs weren’t approved just yet and it would take some more time. If they had given the SSPs clearance to go in December, that would have meant 2 weeks of having them around and for my vision of how they would be beneficial during my time there was dashed. In no way would I be able to do all of the things I wanted to do with them in 2 weeks! This includes interping for my ICT, travelling to a city to meet a VSO volunteer and learn how to survive with kerosene and filtering systems; there was the task of introducting my hometown’s environmental aspects and interpreting conversations between community members and myself, also training school staff and Deaf Nigerians how to become my SSP after the SSPs from VSO leave. Could this be accomplished in 2 short weeks? No way.
So, after some consideration, I have decided to participate in February’s ICT – with other incoming volunteers and 2 new SSPs who would remain with me for six weeks. So now begins a new search for 2 new hearing-sighted interpreter-certified SSPs. Male and Female preferred. If you know anyone who can go with me for six weeks starting February 10th, with expenses and flights/medical insurance coverage paid for by VSO please leave a message here.
So what will I do in the meanwhile? I’m going to relocate to Seattle, WA for two months, living on SSI and the generosity of the community. I’m going to volunteer my time with Deaf Blind people, especially senior citizens, and hopefully I will have a new videocamera to tape their inspiring stories from their life as Deaf Blind people.
Which brings me to my next fundraising goal: $1,000. I have fundraised $2,500 already, many, many thanks to the big hearts of people out there who believed that by donating, the lives of Deaf Blind children in Birnin-Kebbi can happen. It will. I have already spent $2,000 on books, videotapes, two visual stimulator kits, and Braille books/games from Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I have also received generous donations of ASL books, literature books, and a CCTV. I am humbly amazed. My new fundraising goal is to purchase a SONY 2007 videocamera for these reasons: 1) to document my travels in Nigeria and worldwide, to capture the lives of Deaf Blind people and children who live without literacy, language nor support. 2) document stories from Deaf Blind people and edit them, put them on a DVD and sell them – profits would go to my travel expenses (SSP expenses) and donate to Deaf Blind charities and organizations. 3) to tape my lectures, workshops and shows in order to critique myself, and to save into archives. It could be priceless one day!
So if you acknowledge my goal and would like to help, please click on the Donate To My African Cause on top and pay through Paypal. Or you could send a money order or a personal check to my home address – email me at email@example.com if you’d like to obtain it. Your name will be mentioned on my Sponsors list with your permission once you donate. Many thanks in advance!
One more thing before I sign off. I would like to mention a new book, “Traveling Blind”, by Laura Fogg, who worked as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor. Here is a summary of her book which I have yet to order!
In her remarkable memoir, Laura Fogg shares the unique life lessons she learned from the children she has worked with as a teacher of the visually impaired; lessons on patience, hope, doubt, loss, control, judgment, and, ultimately, joy. With honesty and insight, Laura relates her experiences as an itinerant teacher in beautiful, rural Mendocino County. The abundant challenges and delights in her life’s work are vividly portrayed with humor and tears and each child is seen for who he is–rather than for who he is not.
Traveling Blind will bring you a deeper understanding of the struggles, perils and unexpected wonders of learning to negotiate this world without vision. Laura’s students reveal that blindness is a difficult and inconvenient condition, but one that does not have to rob people of their humanity, their intelligence or their zest for living. Parents, teachers, caregivers, all who love a child with a visual impairment or multiple handicaps, as well as those who have never even thought about blindness, will find stories that resonate in Traveling Blind.
“Her explicit memory of experiences while learning to be an Orientation and Mobility Specialist are completely accurate, down to the street names where she learned to travel under blindfold. As Laura goes into what she taught students, and they taught her; she is in her element as a magnificent writer.” By Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind
Laura Fogg has worked as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor for the Blind since 1971 and pioneered the use of the white cane with blind students who are very young or who have multiple impairments. She is a nationally acclaimed visual artist.
For more reading materials, go to Books To Read on top and immerse yourself! If you have any resources you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll add to this site!
By the way, I have two months left – if you would like me to travel to your state to give workshops on Deafblindhood or Terping/SSPing etc contact me for further details.
Signing off with tactile love,
Christine “Coco” Roschaert