A Little Helen, A Little Louis

July 30, 2014

Yesterday was a fun day. It was a long day, but it was really kind of like three days.

Day 1: Loyola

My mom and I stopped by Loyola’s Rogers Park campus because I wanted to go to the bookstore and buy a new sweatshirt. Or fleece. I really wanted to get a fleece cardi. (Kellogg gave me a nice MSU one at this year’s DD Conference, and I thought it would be nice to have one from my actual alma mater.) And since we were there, we decided to wander around campus for a bit. It looks amazing. It’s weird because they’ve torn down multiple buildings, but what has been built in their place is very nice. The buildings that came down had bad ’60s architecture that clashed with the more classical style of the older buildings. The new buildings fit in. I do wish that Jes Res Lawn still existed, but the plantings are beautiful, and I could see being happy to hang out on campus if I were a student there today.

Day 2: Ikea

From Rogers Park, we drove to Schaumberg. Yes, we had lunch at Ikea. And then we did a little shopping before driving on to Skokie because that was really the reason we were in Chicago in the first place.

Day 3: Wilmette Public Library

Lisa is a youth services librarian in Wilmette, and they have an awesome reading program. It’s a mother-daughter reading group. (My mom and I agreed that if our local library had done this when I was a kid, we definitely would have participated.) Their book this month? A biography of Helen Keller. My mom’s pre-retirement career? Teacher consultant for the visually impaired.

We had a blast. They discussed the book. Then my mom showed them how to be a sighted guide if they ever meet a blind person who says they need help.

And then? Then she talked a little bit about Louis Braille before launching into an explanation of Braille. The girls loved it. They were excited to use the Braillers. They were excited about the slate and stylus tools that she brought.

Now, there’s something you should know about using a slate and stylus. You have to not only know Braille. You have to literally know it backwards. You punch from the back to the front and then turn the paper over to read what you wrote. You write from right to left with the cells that will appear on the left on the right and vice versa. One of these girls? Fish to water. She looked at my mom and said, “So you do it like this?” My mom started to correct her and then realized, nope, kid is doing it Exactly Right.

Who knows? Maybe we managed to inspire a couple of future special ed teachers!

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