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BLIND SPOT: Seeing through scholarly struggles

“When I lost my sight, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” ? Anthony Doerr, Abdulaziz Dapilin, a 20-year-old student with total blindness on the right eye and low vision on the other, caused by Marfan Syndrome which he had had since birth, graduates cum laude with a degree in Elementary Education, major in Special Education, this year, from Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City. ( In 2014, Christopher Umang from the University of Baguio, became the first Filipino bar examinee, having reviewed for it using the computer (presumably with screenreader technology), with questions in the examination read to him, and responses orally given, as permitted by the Supreme Court. ( Last March 17, audience in the University of Nueva Caceres college commencement exercises were awed as a graduate with a degree in Bachelor of Laws, walked through the stage to receive her diploma, with a white cane for persons with visual impairment. Macy Tang, of Dayangdang, Naga City, has retinitis pigmentosa, characterized with gradually waning vision as manifested in night blindness, color blindness, myopia, and tunnel vision. Macy recalls her struggles as a student with visual impairment that “it’s difficult to catch up with all the cases required for us to read. My professors would sometimes illustrate concepts on the board which I have difficulty seeing. Then, there are the long exams in which I had to read fast otherwise I wouldn’t be able to finish it.” The aspiring barrister attributes accomplishment to the assistive devices which helped her catch up with the required readings, as well as in taking exams.” She gratefully looks back in stating, “My professors are also considerate when they prep are exams with larger fonts or lend me the original print when the photocopy isn’t as clear. My classmates as well would assist me by dictating the questions written on the board.” She also attributes her achievement to “friends and family who gave their whole-hearted support and encourage me to keep going, because there are many times where I’m close to giving up but knowing that there are people believing in my capabilities gives me the will to keep going.” Treading beyond the graduation march and tossing of caps, she shares plans of “attending review classes like my classmates. I’m also planning to request to be allowed to use assistive devices like the CCTV magnifier during the bar exam.” Macy reveals that “I’m nervous and excited. Nervous because it’s the bar exams after all. You hear stories of how difficult it is. Excited because how can I say no to a challenge? I’m not sure if that makes me crazily brave or bravely crazy.” When asked if she has any apprehensions, Macy responds, “As of this moment , I have no apprehensions. I’ve already told myself that i will give this my best shot.” If that’s remarkable enough, consider Macy Tang’s undergraduate degree is Digital Illustration and Animation in Ateneo de Naga University. (yes, that’s the one in which students make cartoons.) Now, you can’t get any more visual than that. “Historically, only a very small percentage of those who are blind have been able to enroll (in school). In 1990, only 300 blind students nationwide were enrolled in school.” ( In the United States, an estimated 31.5% of the population of persons with visual impairment receives a college diploma. An estimated 31.4% finish an associate’s degree. An estimated 23.7% do not finish high school; and an estimated 14.4% finish a bachelor’s degree or higher. ( In 2005, a “study finds that disabled students over all are less than half as likely as their peers to have attended college in the two years after high school, but the college-going rate varies greatly by type of disability: Students with hearing or visual impairments are as likely as nondisabled students to have done some postsecondary work.” Taking into consideration a wider perspective, “in a 2003 study in the United States, it had been found out that “31 percent of students with disability had attended a postsecondary institution since graduating from high school. Nearly 20 percent of the students were attending college. Students were far less likely than their peers to attend a four-year institution: 5.7 percent were enrolled at a four-year institution in 2003, compared to 28.3 percent of all students. But disabled students were nearly as likely as other students (9.7 percent versus 12.2 percent) to be enrolled at a community or two-year college.” ( Next month, three students with total blindness will graduate with a degree In Information Technology, in STI Naga. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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