Volume 2: Issue 1
By: Cindy, college student, NC
Cindy is blind and as part of a college assignment at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, is asked to write journal passages. This is one of them (from 11/1/20).
Dear Younger Cindy,
When I was young it was hard for me to become a braille reader. Schools would always say that I would not be a braille reader, but I am a good braille reader now. So don’t worry, life will get better as you try and try and try. The teachers would always try to push me to read and read and read, but the staff at the school would always say that she is not going to be a braille reader or be able to keep up on grade level. And that’s not true. I was learning and learning as I went, and so are you! People might not think that you are smart as a braille reader, but I am smart as a braille reader, and you will get there! You will find your way to overcome those issues. I did and I’ve done really well. You can get strong. Be a strong reader. Be a strong advocate for yourself. Let people know what you need, like I do now.
Some of the things that happened to me when I was younger were: I had a hearing loss and I got a lot of ear infections. I had to be hospital homebound; I had a lot of surgeries on my ears; I had to have lots of medicine for my ears, and I had to be very careful with my ears and know what to do and what not to do to cause more ear infections. But as I got older, I grew out of a lot of those ear infections and now I just get them once in a while, and they are easy to treat. I do really, really, really well with my ears now, and one day you will too! I had permanent t-tubes placed, and I have hearing aids as well. I can hear very well with my hearing aids, and one day you will, too!
Don’t give up. Keep trying as hard as you can. And don’t let yourself down if somebody tries to knock you down. If somebody tries to knock your faith away, try to hold onto your faith. Don’t let your community of blind people down. Help your blind community be able to do what they want. Don’t be scared . . . because when I came to college I was doing really well at the beginning of the year with all my classes, but when it came close to the end of the semester I started going downhill with my grades. I do not want that to happen to you ever.
Right now I am missing a lot of journal entries in my FYE class, and I have four zeros on them. I do not want that to happen to my younger self at all when you get older. I want you to strive and get all As and make sure that you are staying on track as always. I want you to know that you can believe in yourself and to not let that happen and try your hardest to keep your grades up and talk to your teachers about how you can get extra credit to bring your grades up or how you can get your work turned in.
Most importantly, ask for help when you need it. It was hard for me to ask for help because I wanted to do it independently and work with interns to get it done. But what I am seeing is that it is not working well to get things done because I am not managing my time well to get my homework done. I am not looking at my assignments to see what I need to be doing to make sure it gets turned in on time. I do not have enough time each week with my interns to do my work without needing to ask my family for help, too. I do not want that to ever happen to my younger self.
I wish that I had learned how to type when I was younger so that I could get my college homework done on time. But that did not happen when I was younger. I wish that could happen for you when you are young so that you can have all good grades. I think it would help you if you ask for help and learn how to type your work so that you can type your own journal entries. Make sure your teachers know how to teach you and that you can learn things. You are so independent and strong and brave and smart. Your teachers should be smart, too, and should know how to teach a blind child to type. They did not know how to teach me to type. I hope that can happen for you. I wish that this could have all happened back then for me, but for me it was hard to learn how to type.
And my teachers didn’t believe that I would ever attend college, but now my teachers believe that I do belong here. So know that can happen to you. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel down. One day your teachers will know that you can make it to college, and you will be there to learn. Another thing is no one ever taught me to write journal entries or papers. Most college kids learned it in middle and high school. My teachers did not teach that to me because they did not think I would go to college. You should learn how to write papers now so you are ready for college. I have faith in you to learn this younger so that college can be successful and easier for you. It is going to be a little hard for you because you have to ask for a lot of accommodations, and sometimes your braille teachers won’t know how to help you or how to use technology to teach you how to be successful for college. You should talk to other blind professionals who know how to use technology to be successful. You should talk to other blind students, too. You should go to the Colorado Center for the Blind when you are young—in middle school. I went there when I was in my senior year of high school. You should go much younger and spend summers there during middle and high school. It is so much fun, and you will learn a lot. The braille teachers there are very helpful. They will teach you how to learn more contractions and the technology teacher will teach you to type. You’ll learn how to travel, how to cook, how to clean, how to manage your budget, and how to find a job. You’ll learn all these things from blind adults who are living this life, and living it very good!
So remember, there are a lot of things that you can do. Keep trying and keep fighting and don’t listen when someone tells you that you can’t do something. You can! And you are confident. And in the year 2020, I was very confident, and you will be (in 2021), too! It will be your freshman year of college, and if you get the help you need from your teachers now, you will make it all the way through college!
Love, Older Cindy
You are an inspiring, strong, confident, and capable young woman. You should be so proud of your accomplishments! As the mother of a child with vision and hearing loss, I know well the struggles you have faced throughout your life. It is challenging to grow up in a very visual word without having the support needed to navigate it easily. Your perseverance throughout your earlier academic years has served you well and helped you become a strong and independent self-advocate. Knowing how to advocate for yourself is so important and it sounds like you have mastered that skill.
It is wonderful to see that you are so positive and encouraging to your younger self. Having a positive attitude and strong determination to succeed will take you far in life. Knowing how to read and write braille is also a very valuable skill. It allows you to be able to learn and communicate with those around you. Being an accomplished braille reader and writer can also contribute to your ability to assist others who have vision loss. Your skills and abilities are valuable assets that can serve you well in the future. Continue to work hard and strive to do your best! You’ve already proven that you can accomplish so much and that is something to be proud of!
Mother of an inspiring, strong, confident, and capable young man
What an inspiring story, Cindy! You have done a great job of advocating for yourself while facing challenging circumstances. I hope you do have a great 2021!
Cindy, what a beautiful piece of literature. It was very reflective and shows how hard you have tried over the years to become the beautiful inspiring young woman that you are today. Your motivation and determination are priceless. You should be very proud of yourself and the inspiring young lady that you are.
Much love always,
Vicki and Mark