Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Elizabeth (18), Blind, Shelby County


"She describes public school as a place that she went, accomplished her tasks, and hurried home. Wistfully, she explained the isolation she felt through her lack of participation in extra-curricular activities. "

  • A Student interview of self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 3/19/2013

 

Elizabeth is an 18-year-old young woman from Memphis, Tennessee and was born with Congenital Glaucoma and cataracts.  She has attended the Tennessee School for the Blind (TSB) for the past six years.  

Elizabeth’s disability was discovered when she was an infant.  She was born with Congenital Glaucoma, and it affects infant and children.  Congenital glaucoma affects infants manly due to a hereditary defect or abnormal development during pregnancy.  Elizabeth’s eye condition required her to have surgery at a very young age to try and either correct her vision or at least take some pressure off her cornea.  She stated “that the surgery was very painful, and that she hasn’t looked into any more surgery options or treatments because she is afraid she will lose what sight she does have”.  She has to administer drops to her eyes twice a day to help with the pressure. 

Shortly after the surgery, she attended a public school where she participated in regular classes. While there, she worked with assistance of a vision teacher. Despite her unusually stable vision, she still encountered unnecessary stress and overwork. She describes public school as a place that she went, accomplished her tasks, and hurried home. Wistfully, she explained the isolation she felt through her lack of participation in extra-curricular activities. While in fifth grade, she received a referral through her school vision specialist to attend the Tennessee School for the Blind, located nearly four hours from her hometown. Her vision specialist thought that she would be an excellent candidate for the TSB. She started TSB when she was in the sixth grade.

Elizabeth is an interesting young woman with a great many interests.  Her favorite subject in school is math “because it just comes easy to her.”  Her least favorite subjects in school are English and history, for the most part, she doesn’t like English or reading because it takes her longer to finish something than everyone else.  Even though she dislikes reading in school, it is her favorite thing to do in her free time.  She participates on the school’s cheerleading squad and in a sport that is played at TSB called Goal Ball.  Goal ball is a sport designed for athletes with visually impairments. Elizabeth also does odd jobs around the school as well as working part-time for the school’s spirit store called the “Tiger Shop“ she said it sells, sprit gear, (i.e., coozies, flags, mugs and team spirit apparel).

When she gets to go home, the school provides transportation to and from school.  The most important person in her life and whom she talks about the most is her sister, Elexis. Elexis supports her and takes care of her.  They like to hang out, watch TV, and go to the mall together.  

Elizabeth is excited about her future. She would like to go to college when she graduates and she would like to pursue her degree in social work. She is not worried that she can’t get into college, but she is worried that that she might not be able to keep up with the rest of students there.   Elizabeth is interested in pursuing a career in social work because she likes to help people and make a difference in other people’s lives. 

Elizabeth is strong and confident.  She has such a positive outlook in life and she doesn’t allow things stand in her way. 

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