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School for the Blind Challenges its Students

As a young adult, writer Andrew Leland was diagnosed with a rare disorder that caused him to become blind. In a New Yorker article, he notes that throughout history people have either bullied or coddled visually impaired people. But he gives an example of one school that empowers the blind by challenging them to achieve new heights of independence. Leland writes:

In 2020, I heard about a residential training school called the Colorado Center for the Blind, in Littleton. The C.C.B. is part of the National Federation of the Blind and is staffed almost entirely by blind people. Students live there for several months, wearing eye-covering shades and learning to navigate the world without sight. The N.F.B. takes a radical approach to cultivating blind independence. Students use power saws in a woodshop, take white-water-rafting trips, and go skiing. To graduate, they have to produce professional documents and cook a meal for sixty people.

The most notorious test is the “independent drop”: a student is driven in circles, and then dropped off at a mystery location in Denver, without a smartphone. (Sometimes, advanced students are left in the middle of a park, or the upper level of a parking garage.) Then the student has to find her way back to the Colorado Center, and she is allowed to ask one person one question along the way. A member of an R.P. support group told me, “People come back from those programs loaded for bear”—ready to hunt the big game of blindness. Katie Carmack, a social worker with R.P., told me, of her time there, “It was an epiphany.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In the same way, our heavenly Father will stretch us by “dropping” us into challenging situations.

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