Show and Tell

To celebrate International White Cane Day, I am taking my big black dog to school.  I carry a headful of sage stories and a lunch box full of adaptive gizmos.  And while fourth-graders listen politely to my considered wisdom, they drool over Randy and clamor for techno Show and Tell.

The color identifier gets oohs and aahs and sure beats last year’s disappointment at a school with a student dress code of white tops with black slacks.  Today’s bunch wears the spectrum.  One girl asks, “How many colors can it tell?”  I pause, then say, “Eleven,” hoping the teacher won’t say, “Prove it.”

The iPhone draws yawns (I mean, who hasn’t seen an iPhone by now?) until I snap a photo of Randy using the TapTapSee app and the phone says, “Black Lab service dog.”  I swear three kids fall out of their chairs when they hear that.  The Victor Reader Stream dazzles the crowd with its versatility. The Pen Friend appeals to the students’ practical side.

I describe white canes, paratransit and braille.  I talk about coping with blindness, about feeling different, about sadness and loss and acceptance.  Then a girl asks if I have a vision in my mind of what things look like.  So I envision sailboats on Lake Michigan and I describe the whole scene to her.

I tell them all about Randy and show how he works as a Seeing Eye dog.  Then I take off Randy’s harness and invite the kids to pet him. One by one, they say howdy, while Randy wags his tail and gets in a lick or two.  And the last kid in line is a little shy, so the teacher says “OK, Conrad, pat his head,” and Conrad says, “OK,” then pats my head.

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Second Sense works in partnership with our clients, providing support and training to help them move beyond vision loss to an active, productive life full of possibilities.
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4 Responses to Show and Tell

  1. stpetric says:

    Excellent entry! One of the very few school-wide assemblies I remember from grade school was a blind woman who came with her guide dog, and a smaller setting like a classroom which allowed for more interaction would have been even better. I’d never encountered an actual blind person before, and hearing her speak–just like a normal person!–humanized blindness for me. I’m sure you do a great deal of good with your school visits. That assembly was many years before I was diagnosed with RP myself, and one of the first big shocks for me was realizing I had switched from thinking of blind people in the third person to the first person: from “them” to “us”.

  2. nbollero says:

    Laughed out loud at the last sentence!

  3. Heather Potter says:

    Aww, I miss working with kids sometimes because of the fun, crazy, and innocent stuff that pops into their heads. I had an image of two or three lovable black labs I had and was ‘with you’ on Lake Michigan. I am temporarily sighted and don’t know what half that stuff was that you mentioned but I am going to look it up on the internet so thanks! Good laugh at the end there, thanks for that too.

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