Inner Voice

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Chapter 1: Going Away
(by Lori Duncan, added on 29 June 2010 05:44 PM)

I was 12 years old when I went from a nice small primary school in my hometown and moved to a school for the blind for my higher education. I wanted to go to this school, because I thought it would be good meeting other blind people, people like me with the same hobbies and interests, a school where we wouldn't keep having to strive to fit into a sighted world and where everything would be there for us to study. As it turned out however, I was totally wrong. I can remember leaving home with my parents and traveling to the school by car. I knew I would be staying at the school weekly and returning home for the weekend, but at that time I was still excited about being away from home for the first time alone and independant. The school itself seemed really big on my first walk around, there were lots of firedoors which always had to be left opened, and you "Had" to use your white stick even if you didn't use it in your own home to get around. Also something about the woman giving us the information about the school and its rules made me uneasy. I can tell a lot about someone, n, not just through voice, but I can sense if a person is tired, angry or isn't really paying attention to what you are saying and just trying to get you into the school and its running order. As you've probably guessed the woman in question fell into that last catagorey. She was very business-like, and although she made a sort of effort to impress on the caring for people side of things, I could sense she was more at home with keeping order, organising files and papers in a well-run office, rather than helping new pupils to settle in. Only when I was left alone later in my room to unpack, did I feel the first stirrings of doubt as to my desission to be sent to this school. For one thing it was made very clear to me that members of the duty staff (They looked after us after school hours( were called "House Mothers" and would therefore be like my real mother while I was there. I was really shocked and hurt by that, for however nice or kind a person is to me they still can never take the place of my real mother, not ever! So anyway, now I was alone and as the days went on I found myself being treated not so much like a real human being, but more as a child to be ordered about and put down. At home my blindness was considered normal and i hardly noticed the difference between my family and me, but at the school, where most of the children were so lacking in energy or any usefull conversation I knew the fact of our blindness and sometimes other multible problems would never leave us. It blighted our days. It also made me wonder if anyone else has felt so lonley and mistreated. Just think about it, You choose to go to a school for the blind hoping to gain some independence and what you get in return is a betrail of your trust from the sighted people. Oh they wern't all bad, there was a really nice member of the staff who helped me out when I got homesick, because I was only 12 I viewed her as some sort of angel watching over us all. She was from the highlands and had the most beautiful lilting voice, and she never shouted or spoke down to anyone! I longed for the days she was on duty. I don't mean to make the reader feel down, but I just thought I would share my feelings. I stayed at that place for 18 months and endured bullying by another girl who was just losing her sight and couldn't stand the fact that a totally blind person was showing more independence than she was. When I did return home to my own town I went to a normal high school which although it was a lot bigger and noiser I seemed to fit into it more. Looking back on all this now, I wonder why schools for the blind feel so much like institutions, or prisons. Is it just me?

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