Know Your Neighbors – A New Perspective on Impairments

By: Kayla Pollard

Students across the school are developing new empathy and awareness for people living with impairments.

Mrs. Love’s 4th grade class started the year with a unit exploring “How can we make a difference in the blind community?” They learned about the story of Louis Braille and how Braille came to be, then got to spend a day with Ms. McArdle from the Division of Blind Services. She shared with the students her experiences as a blind woman and showed them Braille legos, how she uses her walking stick, and how to use a Braille typewriter. They learned how to spell their names in Braille and how to play Goal Ball, a sport specifically designed for people who are vision impaired. After this visit, students sent thank you notes to Ms. McArdle along with Braille-translated scriptures to let her know how much they appreciated her coming.


Mrs. Petruch’s high school American Sign Language class hosted a special event to invite members of the deaf community to come to TRS for a collaborative coffee hour.  The students interviewed deaf friends about deaf life – What is hard? What is easy? What is awesome? – with the goal of writing their stories and publishing a book with proceeds supporting deaf rights. After spending the evening with the hearing-impaired community, students shared that they were shocked to learn of the lack of support so many hearing-impaired people experience (even from their own families) but were surprised by how friendly and patient the visitors were interacting with students. (And, the students were complimented for having a sign language proficiency better than many ASL 1&2 college students!)


With middle school embarking on a disability awareness unit this month as well, students at all levels are discovering new perspectives about those living in their community, which only deepens our overall focus question this year – “What Does Love Require?”