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When you’re 16 years old, you’re expected to be immersing your synapses in literature, grammar, geography, biology, and maybe even sex ed. At some point in your high school years, you’ll probably get a lesson in public speaking, or typing, and certainly civics. You’ll also be soaking up skills to help you make it on your own when you graduate and strike out on your own in the world.
But being a sight-impaired teenager has a parallel learning curve that is at least as challenging. Very little about literally navigating the world can be taken for granted. It’s one area where technology cannot replace instinct. The physical world isn’t built with the blind in mind. An audible signal at a crosswalk or braille instructions on an ATM only go so far.
That’s why schools like the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) have complementary curricula that pairs students with coaches to help them master independent living tasks such as riding public transportation and negotiating the crowded and noisy aisles of a supermarket.
Watch Denise as she works up the courage to navigate the aisles of a new grocery store in her neighborhood, with the help of an independent living coach.