Thanksgiving Message in the Blind Library

Randall Crosby speaking to blind middle school students.

The Career Series in the FSDB Blind Middle School has been a source of delight and occupational learning for eighth-grade students. On the last day before Thanksgiving break, November 22, 2019, Randall Crosby presented to students in the Blind Library/Media Center. A polished and candid speaker, he won students' attention with his opening joke, "I have a disability … I am legally bald." Students laughed, and the mood became lively. Mr. Crosby peppered his entire presentation with jokes. Explaining that his wife was his longtime business partner, he added, "And I'm still alive to tell the story!"

The serious part of Crosby's presentation began with the Randolph Sheppard Act of 1936. This federal mandate gave legally blind individuals "first rights" to conduct food service business on government property. Blind businesspeople often manage and work in cafeterias, snack bars, and cafes in federal and state buildings and military establishments. Crosby explained that "first rights" means that no one else can compete with them, not even Mickie D – nobody. Legally blind workers are in a dire situation, with a 70% unemployment rate. Crosby suggested that food services as a fun and viable career path for blind and visually impaired students.

Crosby asked: "Do you like cooking?" Students applauded and hooted. Librarian Joy Carringer mentioned that students frequently check out cookbooks. He asked next, "Do you like math and bookkeeping?" Students groaned and booed. He smiled and added, "Who likes money?" Students applauded loudly. Edith Stein reminded students of the bookkeeper presentation a few weeks ago.

Students clapping during Mr. Crosby's presentation in the blind library.

Randall Crosby was born seeing, but due to retinitis pigmentosa, his vision degenerated until he was declared legally blind at age 27. He thought he would never have another job! Back then, it was during the pre-ADA days. (the Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled workers from employment discrimination). Still, Crosby completed food service training in Daytona Beach and went to work at the Kennedy Space Center. He raved about his 14 years of serving food to NASA astronauts and engineers. Crosby conversed with them frequently about his hopes of being the first blind person in space. He joked, "I want to go into space …. even though the view from up there will be the same as down here." Students laughed and applauded again. He summarized his life lessons for students, and the message tied in perfectly with the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
Write out your goals, make a plan, and then JUST DO IT!
When thoughts turn negative, immediately think grateful thoughts. What are you thankful for in your life, even if just the basics of food, water, and shelter?

By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services