Daniel Vance - Disabilities

Not long ago, I interviewed 28-year-old “Steve” over the telephone. He preferred not using his real name. Rather than writing a regular column, this time I decided telling Steve’s story unedited would be best.

He said: “I can do a lot of the things you can do. I listen to books on audio cassette, mostly nonfiction, anything about the Near East or political. As for fiction, I like authors Michael Crichton and Harry Turtledove. I read magazines in Braille, such as Rolling Stone and Science News. When with someone, I like talking about a book I’ve read or something I’ve seen on the news. Like everyone else, I’ve been paying attention to the economic situation.

“The last five years I’ve been working at the YMCA. It’s paying the bills and I like the idea I’m making money. I get along with people there, but don’t get much of a chance there to meet many people.

“I take a mobility bus to and from work. Outside of work, I use a taxi occasionally, but because of the expense try arranging rides as much as I can. I live in a building primarily for seniors and people with disabilities. Two-thirds of the people here are over age 60.

“Right now I play guitar in the youth worship band on Sunday nights. I’ve been playing since 2003. I wanted to play guitar when I was little, but my town didn’t have a teacher. My second choice was piano, but the only teacher in town insisted her students read music. She wasn’t sure how to teach me.

“I started learning Braille in preschool. The last time I was tested, I could read 60 words a minute in Braille. My Bible has 18 volumes, and if you stacked the volumes you’d need a picnic basket to put them all in.

“I watch television news. At work, I listen to radio to learn what is going on in the community. Also, someone comes to my apartment twice a week to help me go grocery shopping, read my mail, and do cleaning.

“I’m blind because of being born with retinopathy of prematurity. Growing up, I used to be able to see large print, shapes and colors. Now, the only thing I see is light. Also, I use a white cane, and have a cat.

“Just treat a blind person the way you’d treat anyone.”

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