School Days: Residential Schools For the Handicapped

Your child is handicapped, whether blind or deaf or something else altogether. you want to educate your child, but what to do so that your child can still share common bonds with your other children or neighborhood kids? It’s not easy, but I’ve got some dirt on residential schools for the handicapped, blind mostly, and you’ll be a bit shocked.

The first things you should know about residential schools for blind or physically disabled kids is that they all sleep at the school if they are not day students. The schools often have special classes to help the disabled student in more inclusive manner, things like gym and reading being among the many things kids are excluded from in regular public schools and private schools. The thing to know is that expectations of these children can vary from school to school, but today’s blind children are not often taught Braille. Look carefully for names like “Sight Saving School” when selecting your child’s residential school if that is your choice. A sight saving institution does not allow the child to adjust to blindness, and the name alone can throw you off. One Michigan schoolteacher, we’ll call her Kathy Miller, went to a “Sight Saving” school in Illinois and was told she was a nobody and didn’t need special skills. Kathy, however, and her parents knew better. They decided against the residential school altogether and now she is successfully employed as a schoolteacher for regular kids.

The next thing you should know about your potential choice of residential school? Look at the history of the school, and do some intense Googling if necessary. Talk to others about their experience at the school. If you look at the history of both Florida and Alabama schools for blind children, you’ll be shocked, and I would say a bit sick by the end of the paragraph. If you dig deep, you’ll find that the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind has a colorful history as recorded in the National Federation of the Blind’s infamous book, well more famous work, Walking Alone and Marching Together. Remember that kids at residential schools also live together in dormitory settings? Well, this could make it more fun for predatory staff to march in and molest your children. R. J. Sandefur remembers the horrors of that time. I remember sitting in calls with him, and as a longtime buddy of mine, Sandefur has told me loads about the school. He and Governor Staten and Volly Nelson (not his name at the time of enrollment) all had to witness the events that took place during their student tenure. The first thing that Sandefur remembers was the frequent begging of school officials to parents that urged them to ask their children if they’d been touched, “below the waist. Sometimes the people would ask if we got touched in the pee pee.” This was not the only thing. Sandefur also remembers events surrounding the death of a nine-year-old student, Jennifer Driggers. What the school might not have wanted you to know was that the book Walking Alone and Marching Together contains not only clips from the papers about Driggers’ death, but there is ample record of her staff’s comment sheets, filled out each day. The staff wrote very dark and biased commentary about Driggers, and if Sandefur and others had seen the sheets, one would know why they are shaken by their end. Christi Edelmann died at age 10 in the infirmary. She was injured, and yet Edelmann was not given proper supervision at the school. After the deaths of Driggers and Edelmann, it was then discovered that FSDB was not following general public fire code laws and other problems arose.

While FSDB has since improved its image, there is still a long way to go.

The next thing a parents must ask about is the curriculum. IS your child’s textbook at either the feeder public high school or the residential school up to date? What about Braille books and their availability for the blind kids? Is there still current abuse? What about the teacher quality? Read the entire handbook from front to back, and go over the credit requirements to graduate with your high school student. Is the health education worth your time? Here’s something to take into consideration. Trenton had a health class at the Colorado School in the Colorado Springs area. CSDB now does not have a health class, no sex education either. What does this mean? Your teenager’s expectations for herself could be too low and she could face more abuse from men she does not want.

So what is the health requirement at a residential school? Aaron Reed, a former student at the Kentucky School for the Blind, long associated with its musical traditions, remembers taking a child development class. Reed and the other students had to use a fake baby, okay, but the fake baby is not truly the way to teach child development. Anyone ever told these Kentucky children that babies drool and poop? What about other messy things? The fake baby does not make a mess. … For real. Though it does teach some rudimentary care skills, if the school kids wanted more study of this skill, they should then be encouraged to volunteer at daycare or childcare facilities.

The next thing I bring here might shock you, but Florida’s handbook says you’re required to take a … *gasp* marriage education. What is that? Marriage education is supposed to tell your student to abstain until marriage, perfectly in line with the Florida Conservative governing body and all, but the kind of class we’re talking about is seriously a bad one. Marriage education is a joke, and it could lead to sheltering and your child being told that blind spouses aren’t appropriate. Trenton and I are a good pair, and we work together, on occasion having arguments, but still, we work together. A sighted male is often encouraged to marry a blind female, given the misconception and misogyny of schools like this.

How does your school feel about Muslim dress? For the Muslim parents of disabled students, you must ask the school to exempt your student, your male or female one, from a no head covering rule at most of these places. Islamic students could face discrimination, and the same would go for LGBTQ students. Is residential schooling truly the right thing? Really do some digging, and then give me the answer. I would not use a residential school because of the faraway location, the risk of abuse, and the mind numbing educational curriculum at said school.

Author: denverqueen

My name is Beth. I'm blind from birth and enjoy the blogging atmosphere. I am a creative person, a musician, a writer, etc. This is me. Take it or leave it.

2 thoughts on “School Days: Residential Schools For the Handicapped”

  1. It would be an interesting project to see what kind of personalities blind people develop depending on how they got their education. Residential school for people with disabilities? Regular boarding school? Public School, private, or home-schooling? I have been in a residential school for two weeks, just long enough for an assessment I believe. Nevertheless, I really disliked the atmosphere there because of politics that I still was too young to understand, for this was when I was twelve, and I grew up in a sheltered home.


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