By Chris Hunsinger, Second Vice President
As you may have heard at the state conference, we are now waiting to see what the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission will actually do with the proposal to solve the testing issue with a longer probationary period on a job after using the person’s employment application and job interview to decide on qualification.
We have also been working hard thinking up new ways to approach our topics of interest. Besides wearing-out our “thinking caps” on how to get the Cogswell/Macy Act passed, we have been trying to come up with an idea where we might have an impact on education for the blind and visually impaired. We decided that it would be important to understand how and why people get into this part of Special Education and Rehabilitation Teaching, since there is such a shortage of teachers in these fields. We, therefore, asked Dr. Tessa McCarthy , director of the vision program at the University of Pittsburgh, to join us during one of our advocacy conference calls. When we asked her about her motivation to get into this field, she told us this story.
She got into the field just by chance. She took a break from school by going to Europe after graduation, so when she came home, she needed a job that would give her time to figure out what career she really wanted. She found a job at The American Printing House for the Blind and joined a work bowling team. The other three members were blind. She credits that exposure as the impetus to get her into the field and look where she is now.
Fortunately, she was working somewhere where she could fairly easily learn more about the field once her friends got her thinking about it. She emphasized the importance of initial experiences, and then the continuing of those relationships. She told us that at this point she doesn’t have the time to get out to sell the program. And so perhaps that is where PCB can come in.
As we all know, many sighted people don’t think of us as anything but a person that they may have to help at some time. This got us thinking about just how important it is not only for us to invite sighted people of any age, depending upon our specific need or activity, to come and join us at chapter or PCB projects or meetings when we do things, but it is just as important for us to join and mingle in whatever ways we can with sighted groups, activities, etc. as spokesmen for people with vision loss.
We particularly want to reach young sighted people who might then decide that a career in the Special Education or Rehabilitation field could be interesting. We think that we will be able to come up with a plan that any chapter would be able to use to engage people we meet during any of these events, and we hope that we can make some suggestions about how and where to find these folks. We’ll list information about undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities for students, and ideas about what kinds of icebreakers might work best after introductions.
If you have ideas for how this project can really make an impact, or if you are willing to help assist with the project, please let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 412-881-9328.