Scouting for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Mon, 16 Feb 1998 20:37:12 EST
SCOUTING FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED NO.
Over two decades ago United States Federal law mandated that children with
disabilities be afforded an education in the least restrictive environment.
This did two things: it required that school districts provide access to full
educational opportunities rather than excluding them from education because
modification of curricula or facilities was inconvenient or costly; and, that
to benefit the children, and to the degree possible, students with disabilities
be included in regular educational settings rather than isolated from their
peers. This later concept is called mainstreaming.
U.S. Scouting has, and continues to have, units which are school or
institutionally based which bring Scouting to groups of youth isolated because
of their disabling conditions. But, Scouting encourages units to embrace all
within mainstream units.
All youth are unique. Each bring different strengths and gifts to the unit.
Each learn from one another, irrespective of their own strengths or gifts.
Scouting should be a microcosm of that idealized society we strive for as part
of our developmental goals.
This is one of a series of brief reviews of U.S. Scouting publications which
provide support, guidance, and direction to units and leaders in the belief
that Scouting and Scouts gain from inclusion. My intention is to share this
information so that Scouters will be encouraged to expand their recruitment
efforts. It will be republished from time to time, or sent upon request.
This is also intended to encourage Scouters to secure the original and complete
publications from BSA, for their own use. The antecedents for many of these
publications date to the mid-1970s. Perhaps BSA will, sometime, publish a list
of them in its annual catalog, as well. Policies or initiatives of other
Nations would be welcome and shared.
Among the publications are:
A Scoutmaster s Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities;
Scouting for Youth with Emotional Disabilities; Mental Retardation;
Physical Disabilities; Hearing Impairments; Blind and Visually Impaired;
Learning Disabilities; Exploring;....
This Preamble will be included with each review.
SCOUTING FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED No. 33063
1994, ISBN 0-8395-3063- , 24 pages
The introduction poses the following: *The question that every blind Scout and
his leader should ask is not *Can I do this activity?* but rather *HOW can I do
this activity?** Remove the word blind, and the question applies to all of us.
The first piece of sage advice is to discard old notions. Vision is so much a
part of most lives that we forget how much we learn, though that knowledge is
incomplete, without integrating the other senses. Touch, taste, smell, and
hearing help compensate for what the sighted person takes for granted or
suppresses below some threshold. A light outdoor breeze, fully appreciated,
can yield information.
Scouting manuals are available in Braille, large print, and on tape. And,
speech synthesis can convey the meanings of these individual pixels. There are
also Braille compasses and watches and other tactile training aids. Described
are the leadership demands in mixed units and the careful balance necessary so
that neither leaders nor Scouts do too much for the boy, and inhibit his
Blindness is not an impediment to enjoying the fruits of Scouting. Philmont*s
Tooth of Time has been climbed by the blind. But, tips for pursuing everyday
Scouting are abundant: from pitching tents to knot tying; tactile learning of
nature in the outdoors and in controlled situations such as museums; outdoor
cookery from the use of a knife, ax, or saw, through the securing of fuel and
building a fire, to the preparation of the meal; and, the use of maps and
development of compass skills.
An appendix provides numerous resources for information and available materials
and equipment for Scouting activities.
Article XI, Section 3, Clause 19 of the BSA Rules and regulations reads, in
part: ...under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed upon
consultation with appropriate medical authorities, registration of boys who are
either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped...as Cub
Scouts...over age 18 as Boy Scouts, or Varsity Scouts, and registration of
young adults...over age 21 as Explorers, and the participation of each in the
respective advancement programs while registered, is authorized.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City