Pauline Ulrey – Sight-Saving Classroom Experience


[Instrumental music begins]
Voice: Indiana Disability History Project Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
Indiana University Sight-Saving Classroom Experience
Pauline Ulrey [Music ends] Pauline Ulrey: I went, the first two years,
to Edgewood Grade School, which was just a regular school. They really didn’t know what to do with me. So they transferred me to this other school. It was in downtown, Indianapolis, but the–
I don’t know if it was the Board of Education, it was somebody higher up anyway provided
taxi service to and from school everyday for the kids that attended the sight-saving program
that I was in. There were sight-saving rooms. If I remember correctly in about five different
grade schools throughout Indianapolis, so it wasn’t– ours wasn’t the only school for
sight-saving classes. We had a– what I’d consider like a home room. And the teacher in there was trained specifically
for blind and visually-impaired kids. It’s probably about the closest thing to mainstreaming
they had back in those days. But we attended classes with the “regular
kids” but then we had a lot of time back in the sight-saving room with the teacher and
she did all of our reading assignments and so forth to us. She didn’t do them for us, she read it to
us and we had to do the work. We went to class with the other kids, but
we only like history, those kind of things, we had math and spelling and writing and things
like that with the sight-saving teacher. So we did not go to math classes or anything
like that, but the English and history and those kind of things, we went with the other
kids. And she would– that’s when she would come
back and she would read the reading assignment to us for the homework and for the test. She would read the test and mark them the
way we told her. It was really tremendous. I learned to type in the second grade, and
that has been a godsend throughout my entire life. I didn’t know anything about Braille until
I was in the eighth grade and there was another student who came in who had been at the blind
school and he showed me what Braille was. I don’t know if it was the philosophy type
thing or not, but it was just something that we didn’t use. For those who had enough vision, they
had a lot of large– everything was in large print. But otherwise, the teacher read it to us,
and we just really– I don’t think she knew Braille either for that matter. Voice: High School Years
We had all of our other classes with sighted kids and then we had the sight-saving room
again with the teacher who– there are assign– read our assignments and so forth. We had math and algebra and geometry and all
of those with the regular kids. But the teachers were very used to working
with visual impairments because I remember going in like over lunch hour or something
like that and getting more of a hands-on type explanation of what she had gone over in class. Narrator: Remembering the Teachers The grade school, elementary school was not
near as productive in – it was more – I learned more in the sight-saving room than
I did in the actual classes because there was no accommodation like you see in high
school, the teachers would work extra with me on off times and so forth. And they were a lot more used to working with
visually-impaired kids than what they were in grade school. But they did a wonderful job, but I didn’t
get as much out of it as when I feel like I got from high school. My — both like I say both of my teachers
were just outstanding My high school teacher was insisting that
I’d go to college. And I went to vocational rehab and they said
I wasn’t college-material. She said, yes you are. And she paid the first four semesters of my
college education. [Music begins]
Voice: Music, Redwood Trail Produced by Indiana Institute on Disability
and Community Center for Health Equity
Funded by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with
Disabilities Copyright 2019 The Trustees of Indiana University
[Music ends]

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