Personal connections are vital to making informed decisions, learning life skills, and fostering friendships. Each connection provides a unique insight, which is valuable to choosing the right path in life. A connection could be a family member, friend, teacher, or acquaintance; some people are in our lives for many years, and others may stay for a very short time. Today’s post will focus on how connections with teachers and friends have impacted my life.
At the age of four, I began working with a vision teacher and mobility instructor with whom I am still in contact today. Muriel, the vision teacher, taught me braille, daily living skills, and self-advocacy. Muriel’s guidance helped me become a proficient braille reader, and ensured I felt comfortable contacting various organizations to request accessible college textbooks. Rich, the mobility instructor, taught me proper cane techniques, and gave me the confidence to walk independently. His training helped me learn to take two buses and the train to commute from my house to the office. As an adult, I do not receive direct services from Muriel or Rich, but feel relieved knowing I can always contact them for advice or their opinion on an unfamiliar situation.
The constant evolution of the Internet, social media and text messaging makes staying in touch and receiving information easier each day. Recently, I began using an iPhone, and have joined a Facebook group for visually impaired iPhone users. In this group, I can pose questions, and read comments regarding accessible iPhone apps, and Voiceover gestures. Through this group, I began corresponding with a few members, and have made friendships which I hope last for a long time to come.
Staying connected with friends from school, coworkers, people with similar interests, and people with/without a visual impairment is crucial to happiness. Sometimes, people unfamiliar with blindness may approach us with questions. As a blind person, it is vital to respond with a positive attitude, show an interest in the inquiry, and treat each interaction as a way to educate and potentially foster a dynamic friendship.
In summation, remaining positive, building a rapport with people you meet, and staying open-minded are traits which have benefited me thus far, and should continue to help in the future. During a transition into a new life chapter, never forget the people who helped you get to this point, and do your best to stay in touch with them. As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
By Tim Vernon