Before becoming a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, I was not 100% sure what I wanted to be when I grew up : ) I had gone to school for Sport and Leisure Management with a concentration in Community Recreation. I had a 4 year degree, and I felt the best skill I had post graduation was that I knew how to play very well with others and I could plan some super awesome trips and activities for kids. Well, that got old quick and I decided to switch career paths for the first time.
I then became a preschool teacher at a private school. I loved this job and with my degree in “play” I had a great time while molding young minds. During my time as a preschool teacher, I was lucky enough to have a student in my class who had a visual impairment that the school was stumped on how to service her. I know that sounds funny, having a student that the school did not know how to service, but that is where I began to realize that I had other talents that just weren’t tapped yet.
As the student’s needs increased I found myself adapting materials and the curriculum, rearranging the classroom design, and reading a lot of information on children with visual impairments and her particular eye condition. Without any formal training or education regarding teaching a student with a visual impairment, I was figuring it out and enhancing the preschool experience for this little girl.
The time came that I realized that what I was doing and the resources that were available were not going to be enough for this student to excel to her full potential if she stayed in the private school setting instead of switching over to public school where more resources were available. The family decided she was going to the public school the next year, and the family asked if I would go with her.
I had no idea what it would entail being a “transcriptionist” for a braille reader. I honestly didn’t even know what a braille transcriptionist did or was. I had not even known that there was a specialized teacher of the visually impaired until this time. I know, I know how sheltered could I have possibly have been. In all reality though, I had never met a person who was blind or visually impaired who qualified for TVI services. I had never had a student in any of my schools or classes. Braille was just something that was on bathroom signs, elevators, and ATM machines. I had no idea what a huge part of my life it was about to become and how much I would fall in love with it!
So, as a transcriptionist I worked with a TVI from the state agency who provided braille instruction to the student I was working with while I prepared materials and learned the code staying one step ahead of my student. I found I was asking to sit in on lessons the TVI was giving to better support the student in class, and her TVI was amazing treating me as a respected member of the team.
Long story short, she inspired me to go back to school and become the TVI I am today. I am so lucky that my long road brought me to where I am in my career and that there is so much more to learn whether regarding assistive technology, CVI (cortical visual impairments), the newish UEB code, etc. I love my job and am grateful for all the people who I have met in this journey and have taught me on my path. I can’t wait to learn even more and to share with all of you!