A New Way of Seeing

Julia Boller, Isabel Canchola, Sarann Durflinger, Danae McGaffey

The Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, KS hosted Gloria Yoder and students Ava Hughes, Isabel Canchola, Danae McGaffey, Sarann Durflinger, Julia Boller and Leah Bontrager for their SALT experience.  It was very inspiring and impacted students from both schools. Students from KSSB were able to hang out with sighted students and be treated as normal peers. Students from IMS were able to see how the visually impaired students overcame their obstacles from having low vision or no sight at all.  There were several students who were either partially or totally deaf as well. Activities that helped us interact with one another included attending classes, observing them practice job skills/technology, cooking and eating together, grocery shopping, swimming, dancing, playing goal ball, learning braille, hanging out in the evenings talking and singing, and staying overnight in the dorm with students up to age 21. One evening we went to a local restaurant for BBQ with students and staff from the dorm. The girls also had a chance to wear goggles that simulated different vision problems and used a cane to maneuver around while wearing the goggles.

A theme that came out in all of the reflections was how positive the KSSB students were and how much they encouraged each other. They have accepted their impairments and are learning how to live and work independently which inspired us. We also did several service projects like moving resource material from a water-damaged building to a new location, helping the Accessible Arts teacher get visuals ready for spring, sorting clothes & making craft kits for Head Start (a pre-school that rents space in the school building) and helping them in their dance party Thursday afternoon.  We also experienced downtown Kansas City (MO) before heading home on Friday. We visited the Hallmark Visitor’s Center, Arabia Steamboat Museum, Crown Center and rode the KC streetcar. The week was a wonderful experience that we all appreciated very much!