Advocates for the blind say blindness skills specialists represent hope for the blind. They’re hoping there’s room in the state’s 21-billion dollar budget to hire just four more of them.
Martinsburg resident Lisa Brandt is the mother of two blind daughters. One is an honors student in college; the other is a top student in the 8th grade. But she says too many blind students fail in college because there were no blindness skills specialists for them in high school. She says every blind child deserves unlimited possibilities and their chances are enhanced if there are blindness skills specialists to work with them.
Her 13 year old daugher, Sylvia, says she’s had several experiences that would have been made easier if she had access to a Blindness Skills Specialist. When she was in the sixth grade she wa stold she could not take part in a math test leading to a statewide competition because it would be too hard for her. She says the teacher told her she should just read a book. But one civil rights complaint, and one year later, she was allowed to take the test and did well enough that she was able to compete at the state level.
A spokesman for the National Federaiton for the Blind says five of Missouri’s professional development centers have these specialists. Four do not. She says the specialists are critical to the education of the blind—and to the sighted public school teachers who teach them.