2014-12-05 23:25:44

Hi all,
Something that was said in another topic has caused me to attempt to create this post.
Actually, it's a subject that's been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately, for various reasons.

This forum has so many people from all corners of the world, and I think that will make for some fascinating answers.
It often angers me when I see blind people going to a training center, without really reflecting on what exactly they would like to get out of their training, or just because they want to escape a bad situation, or not even trying to research what options are available to them, however limited they may be.
I see kids who go to schools for the blind, who feel that everything in life will come easily to them, and then they are devastated when they graduate and find this isn't the case.
Occasionally, I have the opportunity to speak with people from less developed countries, and they tell me how much harder life is for a blind person (or any person, for that matter) in those places. I have done so recently, in fact, which is why I've been thinking so much about it as of late.

Now that I've explained my personal investment in this subject, I want to extend this opportunity to anyone who wishes to talk about their experiences at training centers or schools for the blind. Particularly, I'm curious to know what kinds of support of this nature are available in other countries. But I'm by no means excluding US residents, either. You guys have just as much to contribute on this subject, too.
Just a few questions that I can think of, to get the ball rolling, and help you guys understand what I want to know, are:
1. How have you all benefitted from what services were available to you?
2. What do you wish would be done differently?
3. Do you feel that your educational, professional, and personal goals were closer to being achieved because of any services that were provided to you?
4. If you did not use any special services, why?

Feel free to expand on those questions, and I sincerely look forward to reading your thoughts.

The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's just holding half the amount it can potentially hold.

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2014-12-06 00:13:52

@Turtlepower, I've commented on this issue before, but I don't mind discussing it again.

in the Uk, there are a few specialist schools but not as many as there used to be, and it's certainly not manditory to go. I myself went to a normal school from age 5-7, then went to a specialist school for the next three years to improve my reading. Then, because my local authority decided it was cheaper to setup their own unit I went to a normal mainstream school from age 11-15, but one which had about 15 other blind kids and supposedly specialist assistance. After that from doing my A levels onward I  went back to normal school and was the only blind person.

In general, from both my personal experience, the discussions I've had withb people who've been to specialist schools and the research I've done, I'm very much against specialist education. I'm sure there are some decent people working in such, (indeed I can think of a couple of nice staff at myy own specialist school albeit my teacher was a ringer for prof umbridge), however there are two major problems.

The first is social. With such a small group of people, generally isolated from the outside world, people do not learn to communicate with sighted kids at all, or with others in the world. A lot of people I know who went right through the specialist school system come out the other end and spend all of their time doing nothing but sitting and talking to those few blind friends they made at specialist school on skype and it wouldn't occur to them to learn how to socially interact with sighted people. the second is practical. In specialist schools (just as with a lot of specialist institutions),  while training exists, generally ecause the children involved are inherently within that set system, "the system" becomes God. For example in my specialist school there were things like the liquid level indicators specially designed for a certain measure of tea and one of milk, the set routine on bells, the way of learning things like typing which was so slow and stratified that people learnt in groups of letters, not to mention bells for everything and abslutely no care given to individual preference. My brother once coined the term "clockwork mice" for those who came out of that sort of system, and he was correct. Such people often have little motivation to try things for themselves and also have been taught to "take what they are given and like it " (a favourite saying of my specialist school).

To take one example, one person I spoke to who I used to know at my specialist school said he was a fan of racing games after he'd been to a blindness camp and someone showed him top speed. I asked him if he knew about this forum, about rail racer, about Jim Kitchin's mac one, he replied "I didn't look" He'd found something he enjoyed, but instead of thinking "hold on lets try and get more out of this" he simply took what he had been shown and left it at that (he didn't even have any extra cars or tracks for top speed other than those he had been given).

Ironically in fact, one thing I've noticed is that very few people from the specialist system tend to become involved with audio games which I suspect is to do with this lack of motivation, sinse fundamentally audiogames are something a person has to go out and try for themselves!

This isn't to say mainstream education always works either. My secondary school failed sinse the school itself was a complete and utter hole!  I've also heard of cases where children have a perminant classroom assistant and so never interact with other sighted kids at all sinse the assistant is always hovering over their shoulders and the class teacher does nothing to include them in lessons expecting the assistant to effectively "teach" the blind child. Equally, without skills like mobility and dayly living skills provided in a specialist school (or in my case at home by my parents),  a person is dependent upon whatever training either a local authority or charity can provide and these can be extremely hit and miss depending upon the person and the organization.

Still, despite the issues sinse I've seen people very badly stuck due to specialist education I'd say mainstream is a better option provided that it is firstly the right school (really anyone would've had a bad time at my secondary school), and that the staff are decent.

As regards training centers, camps etc, well actual centers or courses are less common in the Uk for younger people, though there is a lot for old folks (mostly because the Rnib is very good at forgetting anyone who won't give them money in their will doesn't exist). I've seen smaller camps, occasional courses and the like, indeed i did once go to one sinse I knew the lady who was running it and knew her to have a good attitude about blindness.

It depends however very much upon the person and the organization who runs these, and they tend to vary hugely, and unfortunately sinse the Rnib are the main organization and a lot of government services that should by rightly be administered centrally are palmed off on them, you usually have to look around for other stuff

For example, in my local city Nottingham, the supposed "goal ball association" is made up of exactly four men who meet up every time there is a tournament, don't train together or encourage others and really are a lore unto themselves, (welcome to good old blind cleaquism). In the next county over in Derby however, there are several teams, a local tournament and regular coaching sessions for interested parties, mostly because the guy who runs the association in Derby is a very compitant and athletic chap who puts in the time, even though he gets no more recognition than the Loser from Nottingham.

The one key thing I'd say makes a good training course would be individuality and ability of the instructors to focus on what a person can achieve and wants to achieve, and help them! not just make them an adjunked to the instructor's own system, or force them to use the instructor's own methods rather than an alternative. I have mentioned the hilariously bad local authority mobility officer who attempted to get me to step count a route to find a turning, despite the fact I really don't do step counting (she called me various nasty things when I didn't), ---- without mentioning that five steps past the turning was a cattle grid! for god's sake! a cattle! grid!

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-06 01:23:58

The social aspect is rarely emphasized, IME.
(See: http://www.perkins.org/news-events/eNew … story_jump for an example of someone noticing this, not that I was impressed by the sound of it)

I can't really judge the local school for the blind all that fairly, since I was only there for two of their summer things, and most of the people there could see better than me (and I could see better at the time), but suffice it to say, I did not get the impression that there was much to gain. But I did get braille/Jaws/O&M during the normal school year, so there's that. It struck me as more of a networking hub, unless you were one of the totally blinds whose local public system couldn't be bothered.

World Services for the Blind would have been good if I was into sitting in a chair all day talking to angry people about their taxes/computer problems. I already do the sitting in a chair all day thing and I hate it; becoming the faceless tax agent who everyone hates would not do me any favors. And I sat in on the IT or whatever it was called classes. Hopefully it was just a slow time of the course.

I'm still pretty screwed and will probably try the Louisiana Center for the Blind next, if DSB will pay for it. ... Or answer their phones. (I'm half wondering if there wasn't a sudden outbreak of blindness around here this year, since DSB and all the psychiatric offices mysteriously stopped answering their phones at the same time.)
But since I haven't been there yet, I can't really say anything other than "It looks like there's a chance I might get something out of it. Only two ways to find out, and I don't have precognition, so really there's just one."

"If you want utopia but reality gives you Lovecraft, you don't give up, you carve your utopia out of the corpses of dead gods."

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2014-12-06 02:06:49

I'm also against specialist schools for those very reasons. But my very first girlfriend, whom I've mentioned before in other topics, is yearning even fifteen years after the fact to return to the Oregon School for the Blind and the restrictions they imposed on us or at least to impose those same restrictions or as close as possible on herself now that she's graduated and still lives with her folks. But she wants me to take her back and to willing embrace her narrow, dull way of life. But she can't understand why I don't yearn back to the OSB days.

Conglaturations, you've completed a great game!

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2014-12-06 07:18:19

Hi, as someone who whent through 6 years in a public school, and then most of my middleschool years in a speshelist school, I can say I prefer public school vastly to speshelist schools.
My main problem was the restrictions, and the fact the teachers got mad at you if you did one thing rong. Brail note breaks down? Your falt, lets yell at you for an hour. Don't show up for a few days? We give you a 3 hour talking too. Decide to not go to school because your cat died? Its a cat, move on.
The services wern't helpful either. I got a simpple brail note mpower because the school didn't trust us with apex's because their policy was blaim the student, not the device, and well, brail notes have a bit of a reputation for breaking down. I was their for 4 years before my cat past in late october of 2011, than right after my birthday we lost another one, and I couldn't take it anymore, so I stopt coming.
In terms of socializing, while I was their I was a far different person. I wasn't open at all with my own parents about problems, and the kids had no idea what I was even talking about, accept for a select few. I was mainly a mainstreem video gamer, I watched tv, and they really didn't get much of it. So that's why my parents in 2011 decided we would move out of arizona and move to florida.

Check out the new reality software site. http://realitysoftware.noip.us

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2014-12-06 07:50:25

At Dark, that's true. We have had similar discussions about this on the forum. However, I think they're kind of buried within other topics, and I wanted a centralized location where people could exclusively discuss this.
Besides the fact that this is an interesting subject to me on many levels, I have another reason for bringing it up now. But I would prefer not to reveal that yet.

At Bryan, I often wonder what it would be like to experience life inside the mind of someone who is so limited. I would like to actually feel what it would be like to be so terrified of stepping out of a comfort zone that the slightest deviation from it would be something akin to blasphemy.
Why, you may be asking yourself? Because, in order to help a person see things differently, you have to understand their perspective. The way it stands now, you or I or anyone who never lived with that mentality could ever really understand what it was like. I think that less independent blind people are intimidated by those of us who are more independent. While I don't want to get into the particulars of definitions of individual independence in this discussion, I will say that people who build their own cages, so to speak, also intrigue me quite a bit.

Keep the responses coming, guys.

The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's just holding half the amount it can potentially hold.

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2014-12-06 08:33:07

danny wrote:

Hi, as someone who whent through 6 years in a public school, and then most of my middleschool years in a speshelist school, I can say I prefer public school vastly to speshelist schools.
My main problem was the restrictions, and the fact the teachers got mad at you if you did one thing rong. Brail note breaks down? Your falt, lets yell at you for an hour. Don't show up for a few days? We give you a 3 hour talking too.

Wow Danny that is frighteningly similar to something that happened to me at specialist school. My brailler decided to break and started writing faint letters. This was of course my fault, and I was given a regular tung lashing and made to spend literally hours copying in braille (which is tantamount to torture) for several days running. Sinse the braillers had no names on them, on one of the nights when I was resident at the school I sneaked down to the classroom, and swaped my brailler with the classes spare one that the teacher used. Not only did the teacher commically then say "oh your braille has improved" but on the occasion she had to use the spare brailler "oh dear, the brailler seems to be broken", ---- so not her fault then?

Of course, as the most independent minded person there i was their personal punching bag, so anything went wrong it was automatically my fault, and I regularly got yellings at or work I did attributed to someone else, the fact that I was also into Heman, the Ninja turtles, computer games etc didn't help either, indeed they had a tv which I was the only person in the school who used despite the fact that some of the others there had better sight than me. Then again they were absolutely against anything involving sight, if I said "I watched a film" I was instantnly corrected with "you listened! to it" etc.

@Turtlepower, I do have something of an understanding of that mentality. my mum went through specialist school for 20 years, (which has left her with some issues thataffect her right into her sixties), which was the very reason she was insistant first that I went to mainstream school and even when I had to go to specialist school that I only stayed there a couple of nights a week (something which greatly annoyed them).

What I have seen in terms of mentality isn't so much to do with wanting restriction, so much as it is to do with not really having the motivation to try anything different. I remember for example speaking to a girl I went to specialist school with who genuinely thought it was too dangerous to pour liquids without an indicator. When I told her that I  personally didn't bother with one because I liked propper coffee and the indicator wouldn't fit over the cafeteire she responded with "but if you can't do it the propper way why not just drink instant coffee?"

Similarly, when I was looking at what universities to go to, one boy who'd been through the specialist system told me to avoid the University of york "because their disability services aren't very good" Someone he knew had gone there and fell in the lake!

This is the standard of thinking. Where I! would first decide what I wanted to do, and then if the service was there get the best out of them, and if they weren't manage without (services at my own university are pretty shoddy), this boy judged where he should go only by what was already provided. Similarly, this boy judged the experience of another blind person "falling in the lake" as a failure of the system and services, where as I myself judge it as a failure of the mobility skills of the individual.

This I think is the key difference in motivation. People I've noticed who have been through the specialist system have their expectations shaped by whatever services are available and "what blind people usually do" where as someone with a more independent bent looks around for what they themselves want and ways to make that happen, with or without services. Similarly, someone within the specialist school system is only atuned to interact with people from that system, where as someone else will learn to interact socially with others wether sighted or not.

The problem is that there is a grain of truth to the specialist outlook, sinse frankly the world is pretty shit if your a blind person,a and a lot of people and institutions will not! treat you in any way farely, so it is considerably easier to just narrow the confines of that world to a set of expectations and what is provided easily, sinse hay it's easier to take what is prepared than struggle for something different.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-06 21:16:03

I'm wondering how something like new college woulser or rnc or whatever it's called these days, will fair. I think they have programs for people who are sixteen and up and such, so targeted at those who have already been through school.

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2014-12-06 21:33:28

I know I didn't go to a specialist school but it's perhaps worth noting that my mainstream secondary school's headmaster asked my mother to remove me shortly after my sight loss was diagnosed. Luckily for me she flat out refused.

I'll admit that not having learned braille or daily living skills was a real pain in the posterior. In fact it was only a few short years ago since I found a braille class and started learning it, and even more recently since I was shown how to safely use a sharp knife to cut vegetables which sounds obvious but the idea of using a sharp knife really terrified me. I've always been poorly coordinated which just made the concern I had worse.

Luckily I've always been comfortable with computers so I pretty much managed to teach myself how to use Jaws just from the help files, and with my interests I was always heading for computing courses blind or not.

To live by honour and to honour life, these are our greatest strengths and our best hopes.

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2014-12-06 21:40:52

First of all, thank you for this great post. I was really looking forward to a discussion like this.
In fact, if we start to discuss about a topic like this, there is plenty to say, and there would be needed to write tens of pages to really explain some problems and general mentalities of some blind persons and special school for the blinds.

Well let’s begin.
I’m a 19 years old blind from Albania. As I have said before, Albania is a poor country which has to face many problems to become a better place for all. Not only blinds but also other kinds of disabled people aren’t treated well. There are some people who “want to improve” our lives in such ways, but unfortunately, some, and most of them do this for profitable purposes, which makes me feel terribly bad. There are some local associations who get some foundations of millions of dollars, but only few of them will go for blinds. However, this is another point.
I am really against the special schools which are designed for blinds. As it’s stated before, special schools consist of few people who sound the same, and when it lasts for long, it becomes repetitive and a boring routine. I went to my primary school, which lasts nine years. It was a special school, and we were 60 or 65 students in total. There were some special services there which may have helped us in some ways, but however, we really felt very isolated. We had brail books for all subjects and late in 2007, an American company introduced some typewriters, again, “introduced some typewriters” which were surved only for the best students and I was lucky enough to get one. But what about others? The others had to type with an item whose name I don’t know in English, which was very primitive, and it really needed a lot of time to take notes. Learning computer also started in 2008 when a company invested in our school by setting up 5 computers. That was not a big deal, but the staff and some students considered it good. Less people knew how to use the computer and among 65 students, only ten students including me had some knowledges on how to use the computer. Others didn’t even know how to turn it on and off. However, there are some other problems a part from what I’m saying. The staff was not so friendly except some old teachers who were good and I still remember them. If we unintentionally caused a problem, they would start yelling and lecturing you for hours. I still call them very disrespectful staff and hope somebody from the government will go there to refresh the staff. The students were unsatisfied with the life incide of school. We were very isolated, out-of-date and a routine which always remained the same. We had to wake up in the morning at 6:45 AM, have the breakfast at 7:15, and go to school at 7:45. We lived in a dorm. I often heard a phrase from many students there: “I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll go out of this fucking place”. There are also some other sad stories but I’m not writing them because the post will go very long.
After I left that school I went to a normal high school, with no blind people. I was the only one blind person among 600 other students. It lasts three years. At start, I assumed it not to be good, I thought no person would pay attention to me, nobody would care for me, and I thought the teachers would treat me like I was a very retired person. The first days were a little difficult. I had no friends and I talked to less students in the class. Also there were some other problems. The students were fairly better than me and I thought I wouldn’t be able to pass the first grade. Eventually things started to become better, and I found many people who loved and respected me. I made some friends who were lovely, but a little different from us. The teachers were polite, respectful and amazing, although none of them were specialized to give lessons for blinds. They helped me a lot in all lessons and payed special attention to me. They even used to ask me in the end of the lessons: “Do you have any question?”
I really found this school better than the special school of blinds and I could learn more on almost all lessons. Today I am one of the best students on my class, and this is due to my extensive work I could do in this three years. I really think I have gained twice knowledges comparing to the special school for blinds. It’s important to say though, brail books are missing for me, and I am using my laptop and some audio books. I can’t for example, do my homeworks in math or physic. But fortunately I had to study Physic and chemistry for only one year because the school is especially designed for languages as it’s called, “The school of linguistics” Or “The school of foreign languages”. If the school offered some PDF books, It would be very very good. Although I myself do not participate in some local activities of the school, I really feel great and comfortable. However I would suggest that blinds should go to a special school only in the primary one as it’s so difficult and they are not able to use some electronic items, like computer. Nowadays many blinds are using a laptop to take their notes down, and I guess they can’t do this exclusively since early ages like six or eight years old. But high school and university doesn’t necessarily mean to be a special institution And I encourage all the blinds to go to a public and normal school.

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2014-12-06 22:51:11

@Aaron, the boy I mentioned with the theory about the lake, and the girl I mentioned who didn't like pouring liquid without the indicator were both from worcester where they went after they attended the same special school I did, Tapton mount school in Sheffield (the same one the blind MP David Blunkit went to).
I have heard worcester changed a lot when it was no longer managed by the rnib, though what it is like now I don't know.

@Afrim, thank you for a very interesting post. What I find fascinating is though, as you said the economic situation and likely the organization is very different in Albania to what it is in Britain, a lot of experiences were similar. For example, my specialist school, though we did have enoughb equipment for everyone to have a perkins brailler and to have braille books (albiet you never got a choice about what to read), did very much the same in terms of living in dormitries, having very static and set routines etc. Heck there were even bells for people to go and clean their teeth and a set rotor on when each person coul get to have a shower.

I don't know if the information technology business changed, but at the time in the early 90's when I was there there wasn't much by way of computers, heck even my so called typing lessons (which were so slow as to be ridiculous), were taught on a print type writer. I can say it is possible to learn braille in a normal school, but you need to learn from a teacher who knows braille. The issue I had was that the county counsel would only provide such a teacher once a week, and the rest was taught mostly by my mum, hence why I ended up going to the specialist school to learn braille, ineed I believe at the moment currently in Britain that is what is one.

Regaring physics an maths, well you can certainly write the equations on a laptop with speech provided you set your screen reader to read all the punctuation marks, inee this was how I id my physics and my A level biology. What however is harder is all the graphs, information in vertical tableles etc, which you probably do need some braille graph paper for, sinse though you coul generate them with computer programs, making sense of them would be more difficult without a fully tactile representation (one reason I still hope for a decent actile isplay for computers at some point).

Then of course there is creative teaching, my a level biology teacher was bbrilliant for that, one thing he id for example when i didn't quite get the atomic exchanginge in rrespiration was stick a tenis ball and a foot ball together to be the oxygen atom, then walk me aroun the room with the path through the lungs and the various reactions such happening along the way to give me a spacial sense of the graphical information of the set of chemical changes. He actually liked the iea so much he used it later for every class he taught big_smile.

@Cx2,  fare enough on the living skills thing, it can't be easy to learn when you've done things ifferently constantly. For knife use, my coorination is also terrible but what I o is put my index finger up the blunt edge of the knife so I always know where it is. I Even did this in biology when wielding a scalpal and dysecting various bodily organs, the teacher used to say it gave him a heart attack to see my finger so close to the cutting edge of the blade but once I explained the reason I held the scalpal like that he understood the point.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-06 23:53:45

Well, you attended the school in nineties but in those years the term "computer" didn't exist in Albania. I mean the modern computers, which run windows OS and we used only windows XP. Although I never got used to it cause I had a computer running windows 7 at my home.
We also had some assistants who helped and told us when to go to school, when to have shower and even when to go to bed. Also, there were a very funny "salary" which we got by the end of months. They used to give us like "4 dollars" but here is another currency which is almost equal to dollar. But however it was never enough and it couldn’t meet our needs for even one day. However food and dormitory were gratis. You may have used some brail writers which were modern and may have worked using electricity, but we used some type writers who made a lot of noise. In all normal schools here teachers don’t know to use brail and some other teachers don’t even know what is brail. However some teachers on my high school asked me if I used brail. As I said before, they didn’t have special knowledges how to work with a blind student, but they acted through their common sense and they are doing this not bad. They try to describe in the way they can, regarding to the subject they stand for. Sometimes it works and they try to do the best of them and I really thank them in advance cause they are helping me more than the teachers in the special school of blinds who were specialized to give lessons for us.
But fortunately I don’t have to do with subjects which require site because I study three languages so far.
But I admit that I suck at maths. We should use a brail display or any other brail reader to perform equations. This does even stand for physic and chemistry.

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2014-12-07 00:14:48 (edited by gamedude 2014-12-07 00:21:17)

I, myself, have quite a long, difficult education process history, but I can say that most of my experiences in nonspecialist, public schools have been miles better than any experiences I have had in any specialist schools. The only negative experience I have encountered with a nonspecialist school occurred when I first lost my vision while I was very, very young. The administration leading the school I was attending at the time simply refused to accommodate me. They refused to slightly modify lessons or inform teachers about my visual impairment. Instead, there only offered solution was to throw me in the back of a Special Education class for students with learning disabilities and be done with the whole situation. Instead of immediately withdrawing me from the school and searching for a more friendly school for me to enroll in, my parents argued ferociously with the administration for weeks and weeks on end. While they fought for my accommodations, the temporary solution was for me to have one on one lessons with a single teacher for around an hour and a half after school days.
After realizing that they were fighting a losing battle, my parents decided to enroll me into a specialist school. At the time, things were not bad, as I was quite young and didn't understand the neggative impacts of a specialist school for the visually empaired. As I grew older, I spent more and more of my time noticing the neggative aspects of the specialist school. One of the first things I have noticed was the speed of teaching. I am not quite sure if anyone else has had any experience in regards to this, but I found that I learned more in one day at a nonspecialist school than I learned in three days at a specialist school. It was mortifying! The speed at which most of the students performed was quite low. This could be understandable in some cases, but it seemed as though the instructors slowed right down with them instead on working to increase their performance. I noticed how different social interactions were between students in the specialist school and students in regular schools. I was quite a main streamer, so I constantly discussed the latest main stream news and updates, only to find that a couple of students knew what I was talking about. Trying to have a conversation with most specialist students was almost scary. I noticed the different attitudes students in specialist schools had versus attitudes in regular schools. I noticed how dependent the students were in specialist schools verses students in regular schools. And most importantly of all, I noticed the difference between staff members. The behavior of staff described by forum members above pretty much sums up my experiences with specialist staff. The staff at the specialist school I attended always ranted on and on about why it was so important that visually impaired students needed to attend a specialist school. They always insisted that the outside world was not a nice place and that it was important for visually impaired students to learn among other visually impaired students. I often thought if they even ever actually stopped to think about their reasons for visually impaired students to attend a specialist school for most of them were beyond ridiculous. Students were always punished for problems that were out of their control, as discussed above, and most of the staff were unfriendly. I literally spent most of my time arguing with administration and trying to improve the situation at the specialist school, but eventually I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. The only reason why my parents believed that it was alright for me to attend a regular school was because of a relocation we went through. The specialist school in the area refused to take me in so late into the term. My parents were absolutely mind-blown at how willing the school was to meet my accommodations. Teachers at the nonspecialist school went far out of their way to ensure that I understood all of their concepts. A teacher of Science worked for quite some time on a tactile graph to ensure that I understood her explanation. (It wasn't a simple graph either) While in Specialist schools, they might have machines and fancy technology to make these graphs without issue, said teacher completed the entire graph by hand out of concern. Other teachers always approached me and asked me if I had any questions. I was never given the chance to approach the teacher if I had any troubles, they always approached me first. It was a great experience and I always thanked them for being so flexible. So even though a specialist school may have fancy resources, I would always rather attend a nonspecialist school.

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. - Mark Twain

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2014-12-07 01:12:50

@Afrim, well  the school thing souns remarkably similar. Even though in the 90's there were! laptops running windows 95 and 98 with Supernova, jfw etc, everyone used braille, and we didnd't have any braille note takers either, they were all perkins braillers, ie the huge metal devices with the braille keys at the front which as you said make a lot of noise. The timing for going to bed etc was about thesame, though no special school in the Uk to my knolidge gives students a salary, inee even if they did sinse most students weren't allowed of school grounds until they were 16 plus (and 18 without a teacher as escort), then there would be no where to spend such money anyway.

I will say it's surprising what teachers and indeed university lecturers are willing to describe if asked correctly, though of course it depends upon the individual. The setup in my secondary school would! have worked in terms of teaching being that blind kids were in the same class and under the same teacher as everyone else, but in some lessons (such as science), would have a sighted assistant, who also provided braille materials in important subjects, the only problem was the school this was done in was a complete dump.

You actually don't need a braille isplay for writing equations, indeed the price of braille displays meant the government would never buy one for a student in the Uk, you either got a computer with jfw, supernova etc, or a manual braille writer or more usually both, so I can say equations and even chemical symbols are possible on computer. What isn't possible is vertical columnized mathematics, drawing of graphs, labeling giometric diagrams or the like. I can say this sinse I personally did not only do standard maths but additional maths and science lessons at my secondary school, I was the only student (blind or sighted), in the school to take the full higher level maths and science papers who's grades went up to A, and indeed was the only blind student to take two humanities subjects as well, albeit I didn't do half as well as I know I could've done owing to the school being a complete shithole.

Blind students were exempt from the practical technology gcse's, such as design technology or technical drawing, but maths, science, a language and English are sort of a given in Britain until your 15 plus, so cutting out maths would be a bad idea especially to anyone who wanted to go on to the last part of school much less to university as I did.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-07 01:33:21

@gamedude Yours sounds almost like my time in speshelist schools, accept my parents didn't even realize what was going on until late in the last year I was their. Before then whenever I would approach them about sirten things going on, their simpple excuse was to go talk to the schools counceler, who was no help one bit. They only realized it after both of our old cats had past, my brother had snuck home another cat, and after I at least tried talking to my teacher about letting me use my own laptop. That goes into a hole different subject, but it should be good enough to say that she simpply brushed mom and I off, told me I needed to work on my brail reading just because it happens to be slow, and acted like the computer was simpply a toy, something I played games on. In though's days I was missing so much school from point blank refusing to go the school had basicly tried to say, if you came every day you could bring your laptop on frydays, which I didn't fall for. In the end my parents, shortly after our second cat past away 2 days after my birthday said screw it, and told the school they wern't having it anymore. So in short I got an extended summer, punctuated with a move to florida, which is where i'm currently at.

Check out the new reality software site. http://realitysoftware.noip.us

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2014-12-07 10:40:22

@Gamedude,  While I am not surprised what you say about the slow pace of education in a specialist school, that is quite surprising. In Britain, specialist schools usually have a fairly high standar of eucation, for example I was doing things at age 9 an 10 that I wouldn't do in mainstream school for another three or four years such as the rock cycle and at least basic atomic structure. this is in fairness more due to small class size and individual teacher attention than specialist education (my class at specialist school had 6 people in it), and also the fact that with literally nothing else, nothing social, no friends or activities outside the school there was nothing to do but work, indeed I've heard of several students who went to university from specialist schools, recieved good degrees but spend their entire time working (often living from home, just going to lectures and coming back rather than living at the university or oing anything social, particularly sinse usually their basic independence skills weren't up to much anyway.

@Danny, I can well believe a specialist school saw braille as "propper writing" and a laptop as a toy. Writing in Braille after all is only understood by blind people, an that is what a specialist school is focused on. As I said, while in the early 90s there certainly were options for using a computer that I could've had, my specialist school didn't even teach me to type let alone use a computer, even though i started using a laptop with Windows 3.1 only three years after I left that school.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-07 11:52:35

Yes you can do equations but it’s again difficult, isn’t it?
You should learn commands which are a three key combination. For example, a command in math may need Alt+shift+3+5+9 and it’s hard to do these commands quickly. But I never have liked math so I tried to learn something just to get a mark to improve my average.
I was not such bad at math in my specialist school because we had special items and there were some brail symbols which our teacher learned and we could progress somewhat.
Also, there were some musical instruments in my specialist school like accordion, piano, clarinet and guitar, and I learned so much accordion. Instruments were provided as an accessible alternative for blinds which they can follow and graduate in it cause an instrument needs less site than a scientific subject like biology or math.

We have almost similar experiences regarding our specialist schools. The students were not fast. They performed at a low speed. For example, sometimes they used to spend an hour and a half to learn a simple unit in geography or biology, while I could do this in my regular high school for no more than 45 minutes. I also stated that the students in my specialist school were out-of-date and me and my close friend were the only ones who were up to date. We used to read news and headlines and when we discussed about them in class, they kept asking us: “oh, really? When did it happen?”, or “where do you find all these informations”. The staff of teachers really thought that we have less chances to progress when we go out of that school. They used to say: “don’t complain so much, when you go outa here, nobody will help and care for you like we do in this school. Nobody will forgive you if you go late at school or make a mistake like we treat you here”. But when I went out of that school, I realized that it was totally different. the teachers where polite and they tried to do the best for us. I am really thankful to them because they really worked better and harder than the teachers who were in my specialist school, and when they couldn’t explain something exclusively for me, they felt really sorry or tried to explain it in other words with the view to make me understand it. On the other hand, in my specialist school, for example, in math or physic we had some structures which needed special items to illustrate it. But the problem for the teachers was hopefully resolved because foreign companies from Switzerland, Holand or America had previously donated for us by providing everything we needed and now we could demonstrate the structures in our own through our imagination and fantasy and the teachers had not to do a big deal to make us understand it.
Also the teachers in the regular or normal school were more reasonable. Once we had to prepare a performance using body and sign language. The teacher thought that I would claim to do it, but I was aware that I couldn’t do anything to perform something through my body language. She said, “I am really sorry I can’t involve you in the team, and I hope you understand why”. While in the specialist school the teachers would hardly insist to do something even if it was almost impossible.

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2014-12-07 12:35:33

Afrim, most software has an insert symbol option in the menu so you don't have to type in the numeric code for the symbols. Jaws also has a menu of its own on insert + 4 with some of the more common symbols.

I'm noticing a trend here, I myself found my science teacher particularly helpful. While most teachers didn't seem to have been told about the onset of my visual impairment at all she suggested I sit around the side of the large table at the front which the teacher stood behind to teach, and even read notes onto tape for my GCSE's.

To live by honour and to honour life, these are our greatest strengths and our best hopes.

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2014-12-07 14:52:11

As Cx2 said, finding the symbols for equations isn't that ifficult on a computer if you use a decent program and the correct commands, indeed most of what you'd need for gcse physics is on the number row anyway, (I was even able to write formal logic when I did it at university).

Music was a major thing at my specialist school, however it was so regimented as to be completely joyless, even though they taught to a high standard. You got no choice about what instrument you played or what part you sung and woe betide you if you went wrong, Indeed part of my intensive dislike of braille music likely stems from this point where it was absolutely rammed down your throat to ridiculous levels, (not helped by braille music being quite illogical anyway), with extreme castigation, one could almost call  verbal or emotional abuse if you didn't learn it, just as if you disobeyed any rules. I was frequently told that if I couldn't obey the rules I had criminal tendencies and would end up going to prison for "not obeying the rules of society"

Even though the so called "rules" were so arbitrary as to be ridiculous.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-07 21:09:53 (edited by afrim 2014-12-07 21:14:05)

So if you disobeyed some rules, because you might have not like that part of lesson or extra lesson in music you would end up being sent to prison one day? ahahahaahhaahhahahahahahahaha, funny. it didn't happened in our school, but however, some teacher were violent and there is a story, when the director called me a "Criminal", "idiot", "such an ignorant guy" just because I had broken something by accident, but it was expensive though. However it was donated by somebody else and our school didn't pay anything to get it. I felt so angry indeed and my friends too.
There was a time or a whole year when they didn't treat me and some of my friends well, who were looking for much more fairness in the school and we wanted our rights to be respected and to be taken more in consideration. But these are other stories and I will tell them in newer comments. Indeed, very sad stories and I hope no other blinds should have gone through them. We have been violated and worned for more than 5 or six months.

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2014-12-07 21:47:47


My parents really only considered that my complaints about the school could have been serious after I had gotten suspended for a huge argument I had with the school's supervisors. i could tell that my parents' feelings towards the school rapidly declined as they interacted with the residential supervisors and noticed how poorly they performed. *sighs* It's not surprising that the specialist school I used to attend now is getting attention from the press as former teachers are coming forward to verbally attack administration. My father's job relocated him to Florida, so this is where we currently live as well. smile

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. - Mark Twain

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2014-12-07 22:20:20

wow guys. your experiences with specialist schools sound terrifying.
I on the other hand have had a nice experience during specialist school, I was there for 12 years and after that I went straight to university. what was different about our specialist school is the fact that we were not treated like prisoneers, we could get out if we wanted, even on our own with the agreement of one parent. most of the teachers were really nice, many of them encouraged us to socialize with the sighted world and they let us choose which method to use when writing in classes. I started to use a laptop in high school and the teachers found it easier to read my homework so they encouraged others to do this too. we even had 3 or 4 completely blind teachers.
I think that me and my class mates were just like normal highschool guys, we used to date girls, to smoke and drink in the school... I can say I had a wonderfull time there.
also worth noting is that my school was not designed entirely for completely blind people, there were also partially sighted students and we were not such a small group.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Stephen King

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2014-12-07 22:39:28

Wow Nin, sounds like your school avoided a lot of the pitfalls  of most specialist schools, however equally it sounds like yours was better because! it wasn't specialist in the same way most are, eg, you could go out and were encouraged to interact with  sighted  people, rather than the opposite.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2014-12-07 23:49:55

Hello all,
So I just checked some stuff about rnc, and, these guys have definitely improved. They now offer trips to theaters and cinemas, and believe it or not, brace yourself because I think this next point's going to make some of you quite excited:
The RNC is the place where Vinux originated. I don't use linux, I've heard it's quite hard to get used to, but if that's the sort of stuff they are developing over there then all I can say is wow, that's kind of epic.

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2014-12-08 02:45:53

Wow, there are a lot of interesting anecdotes here.
I can definitely relate to having to follow ridiculous and strict rules. At the school for the blind that I went to, we weren't allowed to go out on our own, either. Admittedly, most of the students who lived in the dorm had multiple disabilities, and quite severe ones at that. A couple of the students were nonverbal, couldn't feed themselves, etc.
But for those of us who could think for ourselves, interact in normal ways, things weren't great. It was heavily implied that we were blind, so why would we want to go out alone anyway?
On the other hand, there was also a rather disconcerting double standard. We weren't expected to go to college after we graduated, by default. But if someone said that was what they wanted to do, God help them if they changed their minds later. We would be put down incessantly, told that we didn't know what the real world was like, we were unprofessional, and that we would never be successful.
The teachers had their favorites, who could get away with everything, and people like me, who were considered troublemakers, were constantly made an ass out of.
The reason I became a favorite punching bag for the four years I attended was that, when I first arrived, I noticed an appalling trend. Teachers and classroom aides would congregate in the doorways of classrooms and talk none too quietly about students who, more often than not, were sitting right there, and could clearly hear everything that was being said about them. Even in cases where the students couldn't understand or respond to what was being said, it infuriated me that such behavior was allowed to go on, and that no one was doing anything about it. So, one day, about a month after I first began attending the school, I pulled two of the worst offenders aside, and told them, politely but firmly, that it wasn't right that they were doing that. They were extremely shocked that I had said anything.
While I wasn't punished outright, from that day forward, teachers told other students that they shouldn't be friends with me, that I was a bad influence, and, of course, they held me to a much higher standard than everyone else. While I will be the first to admit that, during that time, I fought back, and didn't make their lives any easier, it wouldn't have mattered what I did. I was already a scapegoat, and I knew it.

The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's just holding half the amount it can potentially hold.

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