Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goodluck and God Bless, Roslyn...

Oftentimes you come across a story that is both inspirational and uplifting. The story of a BEED graduate from UNO-R who was able to beat the odds and earn her degree despite her disability is one such story...

Visually impaired Education student graduates from UNO-Recoletos. From the UNO-R website.

The visually-impaired indeed are a somewhat marginalized sector in the educational system. In my opinion, a blind or visually-impaired person has to overcome the greatest challenge in their studies compared to the other physically disabled peers as majority of the information in the classroom is imparted visually.

This sad fact was impressed upon me when I had the chance to proctor the NCAE in 2006 at a public high school in Bacolod. There were two groups of disabled students who were required to take the exam despite their disability: the visually-impaired students and the hearing-impaired. I was assigned to handle a visually-impaired group of students. Another teacher handled the hearing-impaired group.

While my colleague only had one teacher who assisted her in relaying the instructions in sign language, I on the other hand had about 6 teacher-assistants who had to personally assist the visually-impaired kids. Imagine reading all the exam questions aloud to the kid -- the task seemed to be insurmountable considering the various areas concerned: English, Math, Science...and when we arrived at the inductive reasoning and spatial manipulation area, verbally describing the shapes and figures became an exercise in futility. There were often times when I had to take over when a teacher gets exhausted. While the other teachers and students were done by 3 PM, we managed to finish at 5:30 in the afternoon. The school principal had to personally wait for me and oversee the turn-over of the materials since all the other teachers were already gone.

I was saddened at how, in this particular case, the system failed the visually-impaired because not enough is being done to accomodate their needs...why not transcribe the exam in braille? why not revise some of the items? why not exempt the students from the visual aspect of the inductive reasoning test and adapt it so that it could be more tactile/manipulative? why let them take the fucking test in the first place when it is not suited for the visually-impaired?

Though I imagine that our education sector is doing its best to provide the best possible education to physically disabled students, in the case of the visually-impaired, much still needs to be done.

I could just imagine the challenges Roslyn faced throughout her elementary, high school and college days. I also think that Roslyn had experienced moments of frustration, doubt and helplessness along the way. For her to strive on, face the challenges that came her way and ultimately succeed, is a testament to her unbeatable spirit.

I applaud Roslyn's triumph. I also express my deepest admiration for Roslyn's mother who was Roslyn's tireless companion in the four years of her education. For me, nothing could better illustrate the value of commitment and a mother's love for her daughter than these two individuals.

Mabuhay ka Roslyn! You are an inspiration for all your fellow visually-impaired individuals. The best of luck in your teaching vocation!

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