I will never forget the great memories I had while I attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB).
Being a Teacher’s Aide
I was inspired to become an early intervention specialist for the blind and visually impaired when I was as a teacher’s aide in 10th and 11th grade. I worked with the first grade children for my parenting and on the job training classes. My job was to help the children out with their schoolwork while the teacher completed her tasks.
One experience I really enjoyed was creating a lesson plan involving Florida for their geography lesson. I had a picture of Florida for each of them and there were Wikki Stix for the children to feel the borders of the state. They were also given shaving cream to fill in the state of Florida! They received raised markers to put on the model to represent locations around the state, such as St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and their homes.
I loved helping the children with their reading assignments if they had trouble. The hardest part of my work experience was the fact that I did not know braille very well at the time. I remember when the first grade teacher asked me to help one of the students who was totally blind. I felt uneasy because I had no clue how to read braille to correct the child’s schoolwork and it really broke my heart that I was unable to help them. A lesson I took away from this as a future educator of the blind and visually impaired is to be proficient in braille and other skills, so you can assist the child as best as you can.
Things I Learned There
Besides braille and mobility skills, I also had the chance to learn other things at FSDB. One of the things I discovered there was how to use different types of technology, including Victor Reader Stream, ZoomText, Ruby Magnifier from Freedom Scientific, and other devices for the blind and visually impaired. The Victor Reader is a talking device that can hold a lot of books and record notes to listen to. I currently have my very own that the Division of Blind Services bought me to use in college as an accommodation. ZoomText is a magnification program that can go on your laptop to enlarge the screen. The other features with this program are a screen reader that can read things to you if your eyes are tired, and you can change the contrast! The Ruby is a portable magnifier that you can take with you anywhere you go: work, school, the store, etc. FSDB will definitely help your blind or visually impaired child select the best technology, depending on their visual or multiple needs!
Independent Living Skills
I also learned how to cook, clean, and manage my money. I was able to make my own breakfast casserole in the dorm after my adult living teacher taught me how to make it in class. I felt like I was becoming independent on my road to adulthood! Once you learn how to do something and challenge yourself, you feel like an achiever. Never let your visual impairment stop you from living the life you want!
Orientation and Mobility
In mobility, I was able to take the bus to various places in St. Augustine, such as Winn-Dixie and Wendy’s. My favorite moment in mobility class at FSDB was helping the little children with their scavenger hunt. The children were asked to find certain clues on their mobility lesson and read them. They received treats after finding the hints and had a fun time. Another thing I enjoyed was when I went to a cupcake place known as Luli's and St. George Street. I always liked using my cane to travel those places!