I believe that one of the greatest challenges for any blind student is educating the sighted people in the classroom environment on the subjects of sensitivity and awareness. They don't know, and they don't know that they don't know until we tell them that they don't know. Sometimes, that process is a very lonely and humiliating time for any blind individual who takes on a system that is not used to being inclusive. Blind students on any level are invariably left out or singled out albeit unintentionally.
I do see progress in the church on the local level and beyond pertaining to the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities, and that is very refreshing. People everywhere need to be made more aware of the different abilities of all, and I am honored to be among those whom God has chosen for that process.
Speaking of that, both Audrey and I were chosen and certified earlier this year by the United Methodist Women to serve as study leaders for the class "The Church and People With Disabilities," part of the UMW "Mission u" (formerly the "School of Missions." We were called last fall and began the certification process earlier this year. We had to read ten books, plus the course textbook and leader's guide. Then, we went for intensive training in Charlotte, NC where God put it on our hearts to teach the people who had been certified to teach us. After our certification process, we led the study on the South Carolina state level and were encouraged to submit our information for consideration on the national level. We are honored to have been selected to lead this study again next year on the South Carolina State Conference level.
The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Now, churches are beginning to realize that providing accommodations for people with all types of disabilities is more than just political correctness. It is our duty as members of the Body of Christ to empower one another to serve our Lord together.