Tips for High School Grads with Visual Impairments (and Other Disabilities)

By: Ericka Short

First, congratulations on making it this far!

Have you thought about your future? If you have no clue, take classes through Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois. They have courses just designed to help you sort out where you could best use your skills. It’s free and available in the media of your choice, so why not attend?

Everyone needs an education of some sort beyond high school. It’s a fact for everyone. Technical colleges are better than you would ever think at supporting people with special needs. Give your local tech school a call and try it for a semester. You’ll know more about yourself and enjoy freedom you didn’t have in high school. You will also know if college is appealing. I went to college and did well. Back then, it was what all people were doing. Now the jobs are in the fields that technical schools offer. I have worked in various jobs, but if I could go back, I would have tried tech school first.

Braille, cane skills and independent living skills are essential to moving out of the house, no matter what you do. It is your job to be prepared for your career no matter what it is. Without this training, you will not succeed. Take the help and polish your skills, but remember, disabled or not, nobody owes you anything.

If you want to be competitive and respected in society, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. In other words, work for what you want, and don’t lose sight of your dreams.

Take and use the services and resources you really need—like Talking Books, DVR, and tuition assistance–but don’t take advantage of it. The ADA and IDEA laws paved a way for us to be “all that we can be,” but they aren’t perfect.

Don’t hide behind anything. Ultimately, you need to rely on your skills, talents and dreams to get what and where you want in life. People might tell you that the choice of career you selected isn’t possible for a blind or visually impaired person. These folks are well meaning, but they don’t know you at all. No matter what our disability or disabilities are, anything is possible, if you want it badly enough.

Tact and respect for others go a long way as you pursue your dreams. These can open up opportunities because you make connections. Don’t be afraid to live life to the fullest. The stereotypes won’t change until we stop sticking with our own kind and become our true and unique selves.

We are not our disability any more than a red shirt makes you a devil. With every blind alderperson, district attorney, school superintendent, and small business owner, we are being welcomed and valued more and every day.

Keep on believing in yourself. There are many others in your situation or who have been there who are cheering you on.

Ericka Short lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

“Montgomery, LA High School Graduation 2011” by Billy Hathorn is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

 

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