Losing your eyesight can definitely make school harder. Salt Lake Community College student Rebecca Adams lost her sight in 2006 by falling face first down a flight of stairs.
“When I had my vision, I was a visual learner. So now that I can’t see, it is harder to pick up on things,” Adams said.
A subject this is difficult in is biology, where many pictures are shown to explain the curriculum. Computer classes are hard as well because they explain how to do everything using the mouse and keyboard, where the visually impaired do not use a mouse. They use what is called key strokes. Since they cannot see the screen, they use a program called JAWS, which reads everything on the screen to them – whether it is an essay, a menu or an email.
Rebecca started to make a Facebook page but has not completed it yet. She would like to continue to finish it.
“I would like more social contact,” she said.
A lot of the time Adams will just sit in the corner. People flee from her like “cockroaches,” she admitted.
Adams said that when people are talking, they usually do not realize how important eye contact is. Once you go blind you realize how incredibly important this is because if someone is talking to you, they make eye contact. Adams cannot tell if people are talking to her or someone else so instead of looking into their eyes, she has to ask.
“Coming through,” is a phrase Adams sometimes wishes she could yell without sounding rude because people become statues around her.
“If people move, I know they are there so I will not run into them,” Adams said.
A lot of the time, Adams finds that students will sit in the hall before class with their legs sprawled out.
“It’s hard to avoid their legs,” Adams said.
She tries to avoid people’s legs, but if students do not make noises it is harder for Adams to avoid them.
“If I hear a lot of cars, I know that’s Redwood, which is east,” she said.
Adams gets to classes by memorizing landmarks. She can also tell directions by the time of day and where the sun is at in the sky. At the beginning of the semester, students and teachers took the visually impaired students on a tour of the campus to help them learn how to get around.
“It’s hard to use my walking stick, pull my backpack and open the door at the same time,” she said.
Adams said the visually impaired really appreciate people opening doors for them. She can usually get to the building and floor that her class is on but sometimes needs help finding the actual room.
“When it snows it’s harder to get to class because you can’t tell which is the sidewalk or grass. And also the landmarks all look like blobs,” she continued.
To get to school, Adams rides the bus or will get a ride with her sister. When she gets on the bus, she will tell the driver where she needs to get to and then they will let her know when they are to her stop. The visually impaired do not usually get to ride the handicap bus; however, they get bus passes for about half price.
“One evening, I was busy finishing up a paper for one of my classes – I forget which,” Adams describes. “The missionaries were in the bathroom, which is located next to my room having a contest and I heard the tell-tale water sounds in the toilet bowl and comments such as ‘Oh yeah? I hit more Cheerios than you did’ or ‘No you didn’t, I won’ and a debate over the score ensued. Drawn by an irresistible urge to mock their juvenile behavior, I spoke up and asked, ‘So what’s the score—who’s winning’?”
She explained that many people think that because people are blind, they cannot hear either. However, when someone loses one of his or her prominent senses, one of the other usually become stronger. In this case, Adams hearing became her prominent sense.
“I miss seeing rainbows, the scenery, artwork, being able to paint. People need to take advantage of what they have, while they have it. Don’t take stuff for granted. People don’t know what they have until it’s gone,” Adams said.