A Summer 2014 Student Reflects

(Editor’s Note: What follows is excerpted from an August 6, 2014 blog post of The Blind Coloradan, the official blog of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. An Arizona high school student, Christian Able was a student this summer and worked 40 hours for the Chris AbleNFBCO staff. Here’s his reflection on the summer program at the Center and his work with the NFB of Colorado.)

Stepping on that plane a month ago I thought everything would be easy and I wouldn’t learn anything this summer. That’s not the case at all. I would say the sleep shades helped me see. At my school I learn a lot about living successfully as a blind individual, but coming here has been a whole other experience.

I think myself to be a good traveler, but traveling with graduates of the Center has shown me I have a lot to learn. The skills the Center Staff teach are those used in everyday life. I really expected work to be simple and that my employer wouldn’t know how to work with me because I’m blind. Nevertheless as soon as I stepped through the door the first day she had a day’s work planned out. As soon as I finished something I always had more to do and that’s how I like it. I don’t like sitting around. I love that I’m never bored.

The most important thing I learned this summer though, would have to be, that the NFB straight canes are the best! Before I came here I hated them because they were too light, but after being able to move around so easily and finding some interesting places to put my cane, I love them. Even though they don’t fold they still are the best choice for a cane user and by cane user I mean everyone. I say if you have some vision loss, even a little, you should always have a cane in hand instead of a pole on your face.

The best part about the summer had to be wearing sleep shades. Although they were itchy and dark, they were my greatest tool. Wearing sleep shades forced me to use skills I never knew I had and I loved every moment of it. After a while sleep shades were a second life to me. Some days I would forget I had them on and walk from the Center to the bus stop and back to my apartment and not know I still had them on.

That’s why I say my sleep shades helped me see, because they did. They helped me to see my skills exceed what I thought were their limits.

After seeing so many people who have graduated from the Center being so confident and successful it has really made me want to attend ITP when I graduate from high school. Just from these eight weeks this summer I have gained confidence that I never knew was there. I know that even if I lose the rest of my vision at some point, with the confidence I bring back with me from Colorado, I can still be the Best I can.