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Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement
Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.
Independence and a Love for Learning
On February 25, 2010 in
Blind or Visually Impaired
Doug Sprei (LAE)
National Achievement Award winner and long-time RFB&D member
lives in Honolulu and is a student at the University of Hawaii. At 37, he recently finished his double Master's degree in psychology and behavioral neuroscience, and is now a high achiever in law school.
A lifelong music lover, in spare time he also hosts a
at KTUH FM Honolulu, dedicated to showcasing original heavy metal artists (“The Only Metal In Hawaii”). We sat down with Monty during the NAA events in Washington earlier this month.
“Independence is an interesting word, and for me it’s changed over time. When I was younger, I thought of myself as a highly independent person. I didn’t like to accept help from anybody and wanted to do everything on my own. In high school, I tried to hide my visual disability. At that time I didn’t use a cane. I had very limited eyesight and would have benefitted from a cane, but didn’t want to stand out in the crowd. Of course, I was already six-foot-seven, six-eight, had really long hair, and stood out from the crowd anyway… (
). “But because of my eyesight, I looked down at the ground and shuffled around, and developed this really hardened persona. It wasn’t until I started college back in the mid 1990s that I began to accept myself for who I was.
And going to college was made possible through Recording for the Blind
. If it hadn’t have been for Recording for the Blind, I don’t know what would have happened. “My eyes had continued to deteriorate as I grew – when I was younger I could read a little bit, but it was an arduous task of seeing only one or two letters at a time crawling across the page. Absorbing information was just horrible, and my grades reflected the struggle I was having. And rather than try to find a new way to absorb information, I just thought I was stupid and rejected education. “But I was able to move away from all of that when I found a love for learning through recorded texts. It opened up a new world for me, and I stepped through that newly opened door into a new life, and became a completely different person.
“Technology has increased by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years and enabled blind people to achieve heights in education, personal growth and development that just wasn’t available before. RFB&D has been around for a while, but a lot of people didn’t really know about them for the longest time. When I was introduced to RFB&D as I entered college, it made it possible to stop struggling with the printed page and focus on absorbing the material. That made all the difference in the world. What was once a really difficult and arduous experience, one that I had tried to avoid, had become exciting and vibrant. And there was a dormant part of myself that awakened and began to grow. “Independence is a number of things; it’s how you perceive yourself; it’s having access to tools to allow yourself to be independent and not always seek help from others. Being able to do for yourself. Being blind, there will always be occasions when you’re going to need somebody else for something – but I think that’s true for anybody. You know, we don’t walk through this life completely independent, anyway."
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