Tue 19 Apr 2005
At the Tri County Association for the Blind, I worked with members of the blind community, along with people that have a slight mental disability. Before I started my work with the Tri County Association for the Blind, I had never directly worked with someone who was blind. The person that I worked with most of the time was totally blind and had cerebral palsy; his name was John. Obviously, if you are blind, normal tasks that people with sight can do are ten times harder to do without your vision. Going into my service learning I knew that most, if not all, of the people that I was going to be working with were blind, however I took for granted the simple everyday tasks that I can do because I can see. The jobs that we were given to do seemed so simple and mundane to do, however if someone who could not see was given the task, it may be very difficult or near impossible to do.
Tri County has a few different benefits that they offered their members. First, it gave then a place where they could meet and befriend other people with the same disability. It is also a place where everyone is tolerant of people’s disability and they do not have to worry about people treating them differently; every member of the community is given the same opportunities. Thirdly because being blind is such a life changing disability, from my experience talking to make people at Tri County, it seems hard for many people with this disability to find a good job. Tri County gives people with a disability an opportunity to work and make money. Lastly, Tri County gives students and members of the community the opportunity to work at Tri County and interact with people that have a disability.
I feel that it I was given more of an opportunity to work the people at Tri County, then I could have contributed more. However with the little time I did get to spend with John at Tri County, I think that we both tough each other something. I think that I showed John that there are many people that want to learn about people with a disability and want to help. Also before I came to Tri County, John was not every talkative, so I think that I somewhat brought him out of his shell. When I was there but working on different jobs, I could see that John was talking to the people around him. It is great to know that I helped John in some way.
Because people that are blind do not look like they have a disability, I do not think that they face the same problems that other people with disabilities do; however they do have their own problems. I think one of the largest problems that people without sight face are the lack of jobs they are offered. Because being able to see if such a large factor in people’s lives, it thusly effects what tasks they can and can not perform. Directly relating to the type of job they can hold. Also I think that getting around every day is a huge problem for people that are blind. Without the sense of sight, many different every day things like tying your shoe, driving a car, or cooking is almost impossible to do without help from someone else. Along that idea, another problem they face is the fact that they are dependent on someone else to do certain things for them. Being dependent on someone every day can be very trying on both the person helping and the person being helped. That situation can be very hard on people.
I think that my service learning has helped me understand my reading in class more. Without the overall experience, talking to people with a disability, and interacting with people with a disability; the experience that characters in stories we read in class to go though, for example Lionel in Motherless Brooklyn or Oly in Geek Love, do not seem as real or make as much sense. After going to Tri County and seeing the people that worked there and being part of the community, the characters in many of the stories make more sense. I was able to understand what the character with a disability goes through more and also how the character with out the disability feels in the situation as well. This service learning experience was very helpful to me and I wish that I was able to do more with the people at Tri County.