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Teaching visually-impaired children independence in Indiana

Posted at 9:17 AM, Oct 31, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — A mother is thankful for the education she received in Indiana, which is why she is moving back so her daughter could go to the same school she did.

Joyce Wade says the life she has now probably wouldn't have been possible without the skills she learned at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

For people who are blind or have low vision doing everyday tasks like getting on the computer, riding the bus, or reading a menu at a restaurant can be difficult or nearly impossible, but one mother says a local school changed her life.

"It definitely got me prepared to go off to college," Wade, who moved back to the Hoosier state for her daughter's education, said. "I went to college; I now work for the IRS."

"It (ISBVI) gave me social skills, it gave me the skills I need to be a productive part of society," Wade said. "It gave me the confidence to do things like I said, you normally just wouldn't do."

Wade is considered legally blind and is a graduate of ISBVI. She lived in St. Louis for a while, but when her daughter, Mikayla, who is also legally blind, was in middle school, she decided to move back to Indiana.

"I wanted her to come back here and have the same opportunities that I had," Wade said.

Wade said it's not just the academic education that brought her back, but the life skills that her daughter learned.

"They get exposed to some of the things they may not be able to be exposed to at public schools, like mobility," Wade said. "What they do is teach the kids to navigate the bus system, and to navigate going into different restaurants and be able to navigate the menus."

"It's valuable for students to be as independent as they possibly can," Jim Durst, ISBVI Superintendent, said.

"All too often, individuals who don't work with children who are blind, or have low-vision, tend to focus on the things children can't do because they are blind or have low vision. We really try to emphasize that your child. Your student can pretty much do anything a sighted child can do if given the right opportunities if provided the right accommodations.

October is Blindness Awareness month, and Durst wants to remind people there are resources for the community.

Currently, 130 students are enrolled at ISBVI but the school works with more than 300.