Genevieve Yin has always had a special connection with people who are blind, ever since she used to help her cousin, who is blind, read her Bible in church. Others noticed and suggested that she go into blindness education.
“I just felt someone should help them,” she said.
Yin is one of 15 participants in this year’s Educational Leadership Program and will spend nine months on Perkins School for the Blind’s Watertown, Massachusetts, campus, increasing her knowledge of blindness education and early intervention.
She started her teaching career in general education, and she remembers realizing that some of her students weren’t engaged because they simply couldn’t see or hear well enough to follow the lessons. “I would bring them up front,” she said. That helped, but it wasn’t enough.
Yin now works as a teacher of children with visual impairments at Akropong School for the Blind in Ghana. She is a graduate of the University of Education, Winneba, with a diploma and post-diploma in special education. She also helps design vocational curriculum for students with multiple disabilities transitioning into adulthood.
The first student she helped transition was 24 years old, but had never been taught essential life skills. “He could not even button his shirt, he could not shave,” said Yin.
She worked with him on manual tasks, teaching him to package water bottles. Next, he learned to sweep the floor and bathe himself. He eventually got a job packaging bagged drinking water, Yin said with pride.
While at Perkins, Yin hopes to learn more about building assistive devices for children with multiple disabilities. She was fascinated by visiting the workshop in Perkins’ Assistive Device Center and witnessing items, such as desks, being made from simple materials like cardboard.
When she returns home, Yin plans to work to solve an ongoing problem in Ghana – a lack of services for very young children with blindness.
She remembers a mother who came to her school with her baby, seeking help. Yin regretfully had to tell her the school only accepted children with blindness age 4 or older.
“She didn’t know what to do,” Yin said sadly. “Parents are just on their own. We see blind children come in, and they can’t even walk, because they have been sitting in the same place for so long.”
Yin hopes to gather local ELP graduates in Ghana and offer in-service trainings for other teachers. Eventually, she’d like to start offering early intervention services for infants and toddlers, which don’t currently exist in Ghana.
“We can do a lot for these kids,” she said.