Friday, May 06, 2011

Space Camp videos

I've just posted a few videos I saw on facebook. They were posted by NOAH. This looks like such a great opportunity for blind and visually-impaired kids. I know my brouther would have eaten this up when he was a kid. Although he's legally blind, he did ROTC in high school, as well as Civil Air Patrol. One of the toughest things about his childhood and having a visual impairment was that he wanted so badly to be in the military.

That being said, there was one little comment in the videos that has had me stewing all afternoon.

One of the kids who had some vision commented that she liked the camp because she was the one who had more vision for a change, and she could be the one to help the kids with no vision.

PLEASE understand I'm not being critical of her. In fact, I had a similar experience at Lions Camps when I was a kid. For a change I was the one with more vision than anyone else, and it was cool to be the one given responsibilities that at home, no one would ever give me, because I could see better than everyone else.

As an adult, however, who has now played a part in organizing youth activities for kids with visiom impairments, the comment did make me a little sad.

Unfortunately, this is something that happens at a lot of programs for kids with vision impairments. An unintended heirarchy gets set up with the kids with some vision helping the kids with no vision. It feels as though no one really thinks through the message this sends.

If I am more capable than my totally blind friends because I have some vision, and they have none, than does that mean that all of my sighted friends are more capable than me because they have better vision than I do? Of course not!

It's so easy to let this happen because it's just easier - especially if working with VI kids isn't your regular gig.

I'm not being critical of Space Camp either. You can't take one kid's comment on a video and really know how things are going down at camp. That's not fair.

Instead, I post just with the intention of pointing out what does sometimes happen at camps for VI kids in hopes of challenging it.

One thing we worked to do in our programs was not to set up this sort of heirarchy. If the sighted kid was doing some visual task, then we made sure the blind kid had a task to do where he or she also had an advantage. It's also an opportunity, sometimes not taken advantage of, for a kid with low vision to learn and experiment with blindness skills. Sometimes, athough you can see to do something, with the right skill, you can actually do it better by not relying on your vision. This is a chance to road test skills and decide what works for you, and what doesn't.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox now........

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