Writer and educator Sally Hobart Alexander, who is blind, spoke to 70 Elkins Park third graders in May. She recently published a first-person essay in Public Source about the experience titled “‘Is it hard to be blind?’ What I want people to know about my journey, history and where we go from here.”
Alexander was a third-grade teacher before a rare disease caused blood vessels in her retina to break, which eventually led to total blindness. She told Contemporary Authors, “I was unhappy to leave that last year [of my teaching], when my visual difficulties began. I entered an excellent training program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for newly blinded adults. For a year afterward, I taught at the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind.”
She’s been a children’s fiction writer ever since and has published eight titles to date.
The article describes Alexander’s reflections on her talk with the children, and what else she might like them to know.
From the article:
I had them close their eyes and think about the challenges people with visual impairments face. Then, I pulled volunteers up front to demonstrate how hearing and touch substitute for lost sight. After a half hour, I took questions.
I did sneak in quite a few thoughts to the school group, and since, I’ve been thinking about what else I would have liked to say, especially if given an older or wider audience. So, here goes.
She discusses her life experiences and the realities of visual impairment. Alexander notes that 295 million people in the world have moderate-to-severe visual impairment, and 43 million are blind, a total which is roughly equivalent to the entire population of the United States.
According to Alexander, visual disability identities shift from childhood to adulthood: “In adulthood, however, they have other interests and skills. Their identities are fuller. Most consider their disability as a minor attribute akin to being a brunette.”
For the full article, you can click here. For more on Alexander, including upcoming appearances and published books, you can click here. There is also a Wikipedia page about her life and career.
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Photo courtesy of Public Source via Alexander