American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Convention Issue 2015 ANNUAL MEETINGS
by Naudia Graham and Ashleah Chamberlain
From the Editor: The work of the NOPBC is all about the kids and their futures. By longstanding tradition, blind students have the chance to share some of their life experiences at the annual meeting of the NOPBC. This year the parents heard from Naudia Graham of Maryland and Ashleah Chamberlain of Nebraska.
Naudia Graham: Hi, my name is Naudia Graham. I am nine years old, and I'm going into third grade. I live in a small town called Ellicott City, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, so of course I'm a huge fan of the Raiders.
I go to Waterloo Elementary School, and I have had the best teachers on the planet! I have made a lot of friends at Waterloo. Some of my friends are learning Braille, even though they're sighted people. They are learning Braille as fast as I am!
My favorite subjects at school are art, technology, music, and media. In art I get to use crayons and paint. In technology I go on the computer. I learn how to search on the Internet using JAWS. In music I learn to play the recorder, but it's kind of confusing reading Braille music. In media I learn about all the different kinds of genres.
Outside school I take lessons on the guitar and piano. I also go to Girl Scouts. I am a Junior Girl Scout. I like to camp and eat s'mores.
I also go to a lot of NFB activities. This year I went to STEM2U. STEM means science, technology, engineering, and math. We did a lot of fun things, like making a car out of wood, plastic, and tape. When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian. I really want to take care of dogs. I want to be a vet because they make a lot of money. [Laughter] I also want to be a teacher. I want to teach multiplication, division, and abacus. [Applause]
Ashleah Chamberlain: Hi, my name is Ashleah. I just completed my freshman year at Ralston High School. The high school is a much bigger place than the middle school I went to the year before. A few days before school started, I learned how to get to all my classes, with the help of my mobility instructor, who happens to be my mother. [Laughter] By the second quarter I knew my way around the school and could travel without any assistance. In fact, I didn't even need my mobility instructor to help me find any of my classes.
Last year I lived close to the middle school, so I was able to walk to school, even though it involved two street crossings. This year I rode the bus and took typical freshman year classes such as biology and algebra. My favorite pastimes include talking to friends on Skype and Facebook and playing games on the computer with them. I use a program called NVDA, which is kind of like JAWS. NVDA stands for Nonvisual Desktop Access. I download games from a website called <audiogames.net>, which has a whole archive of games that are accessible for the blind. I play these games with people all over the country. I have friends who have put their own games on that website and have asked me to beta test them.
At school I'm the only blind student. Usually I hang out with my two best friends. As a requirement at my school, I must complete at least forty hours of community service. Some of the things I have done this year include helping out in child care during parent meetings, assisting with an Easter egg hunt, and cleaning up downtown Omaha.
I also enjoy being an aunt to my thirteen-year-old nephew and my niece, who is just getting into her terrible twos. I am always chasing after her to make sure she doesn't get into mischief. I've even changed her diaper a few times, which is totally different from the baby doll I took care of for twenty-four hours for my favorite science class! [Laughter]
My parents encourage me to be independent. At home most often I make my own breakfast, wash dishes, and fold laundry. My parents would like me to do more, I suppose, but I am sixteen and would rather hang with my friends. I do make my bed, though.
Blindness doesn't stop me from doing things that any other teen would be able to do, like joining clubs at school. After-school clubs have been a great opportunity for me to meet new people and expand my interests. Technology such as the BrailleNote, which I'm using right now, has enabled me to be successful in school. VoiceOver on the iPhone has helped me connect with friends and play games as well. I'm happy to be at this convention, mainly to meet up with friends that I talk to on Skype. [Applause]