Attending high school in the late 1970s, followed by college in the early ’80’s, I notice how little awareness and how few jobs exist for students with disabilities…especially those with more significant disabilities, like blindness. So, I work, on occasion, doing the one thing I know I’m good at and requires no accommodations…singing.
But there are other things I’d like to do with my life.
When it’s time to choose a major, I explore my three biggest interests; Counseling, Radio and TV Communications, and Music.
I look into Counseling, and am told there is no way for me to record case notes. Technology is still in its infancy. Most households do not own a computer. Adaptive technology is a brand new field, so most text-to-speech word processing programs are proprietary. It will be the better part of a decade before adaptive technology easily interfaces with mainstream technology.
When I inquire about Radio and TV Communications, I’m told there is an inflexible degree requirement necessitating that I spend time both in front of, and behind, the camera.
I approach the chair of the Music department, and explain my accommodation needs. I inquire if the curriculum might eventually become too visually complex. He assures me this is not an issue and welcomes me to the department.
I turn in theory compositions on a type of bulletin board. There are long, hard plastic lines with push-pins attached to the back, that I arrange to form raised music staffs. There are also hard plastic clefs, numbers for time signatures, sharp and flat symbols and bar lines, in addition to various kinds of notes and rests, all complete with push-pins. It affords a way for both me, and my professor, to read my compositions.
Those lacking in keyboard proficiency take Functional Piano. My instructor is great, and I enjoy practicing and working hard in class.
Sight Singing proves more challenging. My instructor has perfect pitch…Thankfully, he is patient with the rest of us who don’t. He works hard to ensure I can access the material.
I make it through my first year of music theory, sight singing and functional piano with all A’s…except for Sight Singing, whereas I earn B’s.
One day a couple of weeks into my third semester, I’m sitting in theory class when in walks the department chair, completely unannounced. He tells me to gather my things, that the curriculum will be too visual this semester. He’s pulling me out of theory, sight singing and functional piano and teaching me privately.
What is this man’s deal? Does he not remember our conversation from about fourteen months ago? I directly asked him about the visual nature of the curriculum as the classes advanced…and HE specifically said he anticipated no problem. Further, I’ve had the same professors for these subjects this entire time. Communication lines have remained open, and this is the first time anyone has indicated there is a problem with the curriculum.
I’m too busy treading water right now to want a dog to guide me…even a “water dog.”
To be continued…
Copyright (C) 2014 Donna Anderson. All rights reserved.