North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind (NDVS/SB) has published a book featuring the stories of two students who attend programming.
By Melissa Anderson
Nothing I Can’t Do features Edward Freer of Langdon, and Not Like Anyone Else features Faith Norby of Manning. Both students attend public school in their home districts but receive services through NDVS/SB.
In the story Nothing I Can’t Do, Freer, a 5th grader at Langdon Area Elementary School, explains that he can do anything his brothers or his classmates do, even though he can’t see. He also describes how he reads and writes in braille, why he uses a cane, and why no one should ever doubt his abilities.
For the Freer family, having a book that allows Edward to express his thoughts and feelings about his capabilities has been a great experience.
Rory and Carey Freer, Edward’s parents, shared that it was wonderful to have the opportunity, “The more we can get out more about any disability, the better off we are.”
For Edward’s younger brothers, Brock and John, their older brother’s story being published “means a lot because if you have disabilities keep going don’t stop. It’s great!”
“It means a lot. It’s awesome- that people can learn about a blind kid,” Edward shared.
Emily Stenberg, the librarian with the North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind, proposed the idea of the book project to the Freer family in mid-September of 2016. The purpose of the book was to allow children with visual impairments to describe the tools they use on a daily basis both at home and at school, what they do and learn at the School for the Blind and how they are just like everyone else in their classroom.
“We are hoping to distribute the book to students in North Dakota in certain grades with the help of the State Library,” Stenberg explained.
The book also includes suggestions for using the book in the classroom, a glossary, and a special message from the ND Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler. Baesler writes, “This book offers a lesson for everyone about the power of commitment and perseverance.”
North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind assists and teaches about 125 school age children but their services are from moment of need to death. Edward was selected to be a part of the book project because of his personality.
“He is full of tenacity but also thoughtful and kind. His story is unique, but it is also one others can relate to,” Stenberg explained.
Stenberg traveled to Langdon where she interviewed Edward, his brothers, and his parents as well as his classmates and teachers at Langdon Area Elementary School.
For the Freers, knowing that Edward’s story is getting out for other kids to know and learn from has been a favorite outcome of this project.
“I like how Emily described in each picture what I was doing,” Edward shared.
As parents of a special needs child, the Freers feel opportunities to spread their son’s story and raise awareness about his tools and capabilities is important.
Carey explained that she believes if anyone has any questions about any disabilities, please just ask them questions instead of staring at them.
“Most people would appreciate you coming up and talking and asking them questions about their disability,” Carey said.
“The ones who are disabled or slow or whatever health issues they have – yes, they are different, but in reality they are like all of us, human beings, a person with feelings like we have. You will find that most have the biggest hearts, and they are always happy and smiling. So please be kind to one another and help each other when you see there is a need,” Carey added.
Copies of the book will be distributed without charge to students and families who attend programming or receive services from NDVS/SB, schools who have a student with a visual impairment, and other groups or organizations that serve an educational purpose. Other parties interested in obtaining a book should contact NDVS/SB.
The publication and distribution of the book was made possible thanks to the generosity of the North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation.
North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind provides statewide leadership, center-based programming, and regionalized outreach services ensuring that the specialized needs of persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired are met. NDVS/SB is located in Grand Forks, with regional offices in Fargo, Jamestown, Minot, and Bismarck.
Our mission is to function as a statewide comprehensive resource working cooperatively with related agencies in providing a full range of services to persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities. We strive to inspire hope and the desire to achieve in our students as we strive to be leaders in the field of visual impairment.