Sunday, February 21, 2010

Deaf or Blind?

Have you ever thought about such choices? If you had to be either deaf or blind, which would you choose?

The answer for me is easy (granted, I've never been and hope to never be faced with the choice).

I would choose to lose my hearing.

Living in silence doesn't sound so bad some days. However, living in darkness sounds utterly terrible to me. I'm not sure how I'd handle never seeing a daffodil bloom, an Idaho blue sky, or the words on a page. I love to read. I love to write. Sure, you could do these things without eyesight, and many people do every day. I don't want to...

My wonderful son, Mitch, has always had a vision problem. He lost 80% of the vision in his right eye before we ever knew there was even a problem. He's an adapter. He is an easy-going kid who can adapt to the circumstances, without complaint. When we learned about his vision problems, he was five years old. We worked with the specialist to help regain some of his vision. It was hard. He fell behind in reading skills because of the steps we were taking to improve his vision.

The doctor said, "He can always learn to read, but he can't always regain his vision."  Well, needless to say, he's never gained a love for reading. It's work for him. Over the years we've maintained regular appointments with the eye specialist and I thought things were going well. I thought he was holding his own with his vision and the eye doctor has been altering his prescription to work him OUT of his bi-focals (yes, bi-focals since the age of six, and he's now sixteen). Well, Mitch, who is a straight A student, got a D on an English test. The test covered a novel. Turns out he didn't read it. I thought it was a behavioral choice. It wasn't, not completely. I found this out when he brought home "To Kill a Mockingbird." The small book was sitting next to his computer and on his computer screen was "Spark Notes" (his generations' "Cliff Notes"). We talked. I told him he had to read the book. I made him sit with me and read it out loud. I watched as he read. His right eye completely sank into his nose (not slightly, but significantly) and his left eye struggled to move back and forth to read the tiny printed words. I stopped him and we talked about it. It physically hurts him to read.

I've spent the last several days, sometimes hours a day, reading the book out loud to him.

I've contacted the school, made an appointment with the specialist, and researched his rights for assistance with education. I called the library to see if a large print version of the book was available. Nope. Really? Wow...

I love to read. I can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to read.


  1. I sincerely hope neither one of these things ever happen to me or my family but I would also go with loss of hearing. I cannot imagine the thought of missing out on my children's faces as they came into this world. Their first smiles. The pride on their face when they do something well, and finally the love I see in my husband's eyes. That's just my thoughts on the subject.

  2. Margo, I would have to agree with you. My brother is deaf. He has about five percent hearing in each ear. It is very hard for him, but he can do a lot of things that blind people can't like drive and see his family.

    As for your son...I had a couple of students who were visually impaired. They hated to read also not because of the stories, but because it physically hurt. I got them on audiobooks immediately. They were able to gain needed vocabulary, comprehension skills, and learned to love the story. It made a significant difference to them at school. They were able to talk to kids about books and excel in academics. Listening Comprehension comes before reading comprehension. Go to your local libary and get some audio. Most ereaders have programs for visually challenged individuals.

    Things can be different for him. If you want to talk about options for him at school, I can give you a few. Send me a message on Writer's Digest.

    Great Post!

  3. Thanks ladies.

    Melissa, I appreciate your educational input. I've jumped feet first into the bureaucracy, and I think we've got an advocate for Mitchell. We have a "team evaluation" scheduled for Friday morning and I'm taking Mitch back to the eye doctor tomorrow morning. So, I'll let you know what happens!