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Friday, April 10, 2009

Speaking Out

Why has my blog been so quiet this week? The answer is
simple. I've been focusing on a new project. Last night
was my debut performance as a guest speaker.
I was invited to speak to a class at my local university.
The class is about Leisure Inclusion for people with
Disabilities. I was there to talk about deaf-blindness.
What an experience for me!
I will confess. I was deathly nervous. I do not like
public speaking. I get that queasy feeling in the pit of my
stomach. The thought of facing a class of college students
made me want to hide in my room for a month.
Still, I was happy to accept the invitation. I believe that
education and awareness are extremely important. Who
better to educate about deaf-blindness than someone who is
deaf-blind? Of course, the anticipation and dread were the
worst part. Once I was there and got started, everything
was fine.
My friend Andrea took me to the class. We both thought we
knew the area and building but things have changed so much
on campus. Andrea finally found the building but we
couldn't locate the classroom. Round and round in circles
we walked. Hey, I'm blind. What's her excuse?
When we eventually got to the classroom, I was totally out
of breath. I suspect Andrea did that on purpose. As my
ex-physical therapist, she has the motive and she knows
perfectly well that I haven't been doin my exercises.
Okay, so we made it in time and I did my bit of speaking.
Don't tell anyone I said this - but it was actually kind of
fun. I was sure to complain about Andrea to the students.
It was good for some comic relief.
I talked a little about deaf-blindness in general and then
about my own story. I told the students about my
experiences on campus and being a student again. Then I
discussed leisure inclusion, since that's the topic of the
course. I wanted to emphasize that people who are
deaf-blind can participate in many activities with the
right help. That's when I explained what a Support Service
Provider (SSP) is and how they help people who are
deaf-blind. (Hint, hint - Become an SSP.)
Speeches are boring so I brought toys for all the little
students to play with. This way they had the opportunity to
actually see and feel how games can be adapted for people
who are blind. I had samples of dominoes, tactile dice,
Bingo cards, Connect Four, Chess, Checkers, playing cards
and Uno. What fun!
To finish, I read my poem "Touch Me Softly" to describe to
the students what being deaf-blind means to me. I gave them
each a braille alphabet card and handout that I made with
more information about deaf-blindness and SSP's. The
students asked many good questions and then it was over.
Speaking out isn't so bad, after all. I had the chance to
tell the world (or at least 20 students) what life is like
for me. Hopefully, they got something good out of the
experience. I know I did.

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