Tommy had presented me with a challenge that I had not encountered yet in my short teaching career so far. Normally, children that are visually impaired are sent to the Westfield School for the Blind, which is a few towns away, but Tommy's parents insisted that he be placed into his local public school. They wanted Tommy to feel as normal as possible; that he was no different than other kids.
A very noble concept for sure. I admired Tommy's parents for their thinking, and I admired Tommy even more for his courage to go through with his parents' plan. As his English teacher, I only saw him for 40 minutes a day. I ran a class that revolved around reading ... how was I supposed to have my students take turns reading a book aloud in class? What would happen when it was Tommy's turn?
Tommy was fluent in braille, but his parents insisted that we not use braille books
while he was in school, since that would make Tommy feel different. He used braille at
home to read his assignments, but how were us teachers supposed to make him an active part
of class without braille?
I came up with a solution - an audio book. I asked Tommy's parents to provide him with a walkman for him to bring to class. I purchased a copy of the audio book that we were currently reading in class - All Quiet On The Western Front.
I met Tommy before class, and explained him my plan. I would set the audio book to a certain part. First, I would call on several other students to read a few paragraphs. Then, when it came to the part that I had set Tommy's tape to, I would call on him. Then he would press play on is walkman, listen to the author, and repeat it back out loud to me!
Thanks to an audio book, a blind student could feel normal among the rest of his class.