Visual impairment or low vision may be a disability but it doesn’t mean becoming totally dependent to others, living low, and forgetting one’s aspiration to lead a successful and meaningful life. This condition is defined as a severe reduction in vision which cannot be corrected by means of glasses or contact lenses. Even with this condition, people can still live a productive life. This is what ihearlearning.org advocates.
Most people feel pity or concern for those with disabilities, such as the blind. They try to make their lives easier not knowing that this can result in learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a condition wherein one wallows in despair accepting one’s fate, passing up opportunities and not persevering to make one’s state of life better.
Human beings are designed to adapt to their environment, with or without disabilities. Failure is part of learning. It is not bad per se as long as after one hurdle, one stands up and tries again. In doing so, a person with disability learns, grows, and lives a meaningful and fulfilled life. This is the reason why it is important for such individuals to have a support group starting with their families.
ihearlearning.org believes that living with a disability is not an excuse to remain in the sidelines. There are many ways to educate one’s self. For the visually-impaired in particular, he may learn through the other senses –hearing, smelling, touch, and taste. It may take longer to teach a concept as even simple words may need to be introduced through those four senses. It is nonetheless possible. It can be done given the right attitude.
Even as life is touch for the visually-impaired, negativity should be shunned.
One example of an individual who chose to stay positive despite his condition is Vincent Harper. He had “I can do it” written in Braile even before he was able to read it. Thanks to his supportive mom and dad, who wanted to raise their kid to be independent and to become an achiever.
Another blind achiever is jazz pianist, vocalist and arranger Rocco Fiorrentino. Rocco was born blind due to premature birth but he says anyone can have success if you believe in yourself. He is an advocate for the blind and was named Top Ten Youth Volunteers in the USA for his humanitarian efforts. Aside from this, he also received several other significant awards, including the Hellen Keller Award given by the American Foundation for the Blind.
At the age of five, Rocco became the ambassador of the Little Rock Foundation, a non-profit foundation formed by his parents to support families of blind and visually-impaired children. In 2009, after lobbying to legislators to dedicate budget for Braille education, Congress approved $1.2M for the state of New Jersey. Thanks to Rocco.
He was an accomplished jazz pianist, vocalist and arranger by the age of 19. He has performed with big names like Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder onstage. He also had stints on television via Sesame Street.
Perhaps no other blind person is as popular as Hellen Keller. She was born in Alabama and became deaf and blind after contracting a disease. With teacher Anne Sullivan’s patience and prodding, Helen graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and became a respected writer and speaker.
She also became popular for advancing the cause of those living with disabilities. She joined campaigns to raise awareness, money and support for the blind, and became active in organizations which helped the poor, not just in the US but also outside the country.
Living for others became her drive to live a meaningful life. Sometimes, when one is driven and focuses one’s energy and efforts toward other people, one’s life becomes more meaningful.
As these biographies show, it is best to begin with oneself so that one can inspire and give hope to others. Anne Sullivan must be one positive woman herself such that she was able to inspire Helen to become successful and in turn, Helen helped others.
Whatever adversity we face in life, we hold on and hope. Such is what ihearlearning.org stands for in its bid to provide support to visually impaired children so that they too can achieve their dreams.