The Blast

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  • Cheryl McNeil Fisher

Need a boost? Stand in front of groups/assemblies of elementary students, and allow them to ask you questions. Nothing is off-limits! I thought it interesting that for the first time, a student told me that I didn't look blind. It was interesting to hear why I don't look blind:

* Your eyes are open. Blind people have their eyes closed.

* You aren't wearing sun glasses.

* Bind people have cloudy or black eyes.

* You are looking at us.

Interesting, right?

I explained to them that not all blind people close their eyes. I explained that I have a little vision and how they may be able to simulate it.

If I was totally blind, I would still be able to look at you when you are talking to me, because I would hear your voice. I explained that sometimes I wear sunglasses because my eyes are sensitive to the light. At that moment, I didn't need them.

I pray bfore each visit, presentation, engagemet..., that I bless them as much as they bless my spirit.

Smile! It will immediately change lift you, and you may be the only smile a person sees today.

  • Cheryl McNeil Fisher

I am learning to read as an adult. 22 years ago I lost the majority of my sight (legally blind). For several years, I was considered high functioning, meaning I could see regular print with the help of very strong reading glasses. My attitude was, “Why should I learn braille? There is so much technology that I won’t need to learn it.”

20 years ago I took a course learning to write braille. Since I had no concept of how to read it, I used a cheat sheet ~ so I thought. I was using a diagram that showed where the dots were located if you were reading braille. So, of course all my lessons were wrong. Needless to say, I was frustrated and never finished the course.

Throughout the years people have suggested that I learn braille. I kept thinking of that course, using a slate and stylus, listening to a tape and feeling totally frustrated. I maintained my denial, using technology advances as an excuse. Meanwhile my frustration grew, as my vision deteriorated.

It has become impossible for me to read some of the labels on spices, even with glasses and magnifiers. When I have to read something, I have to find my glasses and a magnifier. If that doesn’t work, I put it under a CCTV. Even that doesn't work most of the time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Hmmm!

My CBVH (NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped) counselor suggested a course on “How to read braille” so that I can label things. Now, that made sense to me. Plus, my insanity made me ready.

Guess what? I am thrilled to be learning. I feel excited when I tell people; I have learned c, g and l in my first course (6 lessons). Today I am up to A-N, as well as 1-0.

It is REAL! I am accepting. I am thrilled with my progress. But…I feel pain with the loss. I am emotionally exhausted after a lesson. Yet, I laugh out loud as I am reading sometimes. When you read, you are looking at the letters, the word, and the sentence. My fingers are feeling these micro dots, while my brain has to process what letter it is, then put together a word using these letters. There are micro dots making the words, so there is a mini space between these words which I need to recognize in order to recognize. Are you getting the picture? Oh, and did I tell you that the lessons are the same lessons that were used in the 1930’s? Names like Ebb, Mabel, Ida, and Ada… Great names, but they sure throw me off sometimes. Thank goodness there are names such as Mike and Jill. Phew! Here I am - an adult reading, “Jill told Mike to climb the big hill.” “Ebb bagged a big cabbage.” I crack up, which is wonderful! The fact that I am reading these sentences, thrill me. I never would have thought a month ago, that I would be thrilled to be reading braille.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear! Thank you God, for the teachers and their patience.

  • Cheryl McNeil Fisher

Updated: Sep 30

I Skyped with Mrs. Deam’s first grade class, in Charlotte, NC last week. Sanka sat in a chair that he has never been in :). While I sat on the floor and chatted with the class, they were able to see Sanka over my shoulder. He heard and saw them on my iPad. I was a sked some questions that I have never been asked before. “Did I like the Tar Heels?”Who? “The Tar Heels.” I just laughed and told the little boy that I had no idea who he was talking about. “It’s a basketball team.” Oh, I’m sure my husband knows who they are. I bet they are a great team. I received a happy face. So….. Another boy gets up and asks, “Who is your favorite football team?” You’ll love this answer: “Whoever is winning.” We all laughed and then I said I like the Giants and surprisingly I received a few claps. Phew! I didn’t want to offend anyone. The next little boy says, “Who is your favorite baseball team” I knew we were heading towards coving all sports and thought, I better nip this. Laughing with them, I said that I liked the Yankees. Again receiving some applause. I like all sports, but due to time, I couldn’t go through them all. eah! They were happy with that. :) I was impressed that the students felt comfortable asking me personal questions. As always, the time was too short. We plan to Skype again before the school year ends, for more Q & A. I love the diversity and dynamics that happen with each group I talk to. Skype or classroom. Small groups or assemblies, I never know what they will ask. I am blessed to be doing what I love to do.