Future Reflections Winter/Spring, Vol. 14 No. 1
[PICTURE] Crystal McClain with her twin daughters Macy (seated) and Madison, at eh 1993 NFB Convention in Dallas
We have made the NFB National Convention a family outing for the last two years. Our family consists of myself, Crystal McClain, my husband Mark, and our three daughters, Brianne, age twelve, and the twins, Macy and Madison, ages four. This past year we also brought along our neighbor girl, Emily. From this line-up you can see we had quite a crew at convention!
When we found out over three years ago that Macy was going to be blind, we were frightened about the future. We didn't know what type of life Macy could have, where she would go to school, or how expensive raising a blind child would be. We were basically ignorant about blindness.
I originally found out about the National Federation of the Blind through Future Reflections. I can't remember how I got signed up to receive the magazine, but the important thing is that it happened. After reading articles such as þIs Your Child Age-Appropriate?þ by Ruby Ryles, and þAn Appropriate Education for Codyþ by Marty Grieser, I felt like I was headed down a brighter path for Macy. Then I read the report about the 1992 NFB convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I decided then and there not to miss another convention. So, I contacted Barbara Pierce, the president of the NFB of Ohio. I then attended my first local NFB meeting, which paved the way for our family to go to the 1993 NFB Convention in Dallas.
I became less ignorant about blindness with each contact with the NFB. I value the role the NFB plays in our life, and I am committed to the NFB philosophy. Here are some of the general things I have learned about blindness from the NFB and from Macy:
1. Blindness doesn't have to be a tragedy (unless you let it be).
2. Independence is a priority.
3. Networking with other parents is a must.
4. Blind adult role models are essential.
5. Parents and teachers must have age-appropriate expectations.
6. A positive attitude is critical.
7. Blind kids MUST USE A CANE.
8. Parents must know the law and their rights.
9. Parents are their child's first and best advocates.
10. "Adapt" instead of saying "can't."
Another thing about NFB Conventions is that I found out how parents can miss out on so much if they come and only attend the Parents Seminar and then leave. I feel I have learned so much by staying and attending meetings such as the Parental Concerns Committee meeting (this is for blind parents, but I learned a lot from them); the meeting of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB); technology meetings and workshops; general convention sessions, which always have such interesting topics and speakers-I would pay twice the registration fee to hear Fred Schroeder speak; and the Board of Director's meeting at which the twenty-six scholarship winners are introduced. I find the scholarship winners especially impressive. If people in our children's schools could just see these high-achieving high school and college students I feel that their expectations and attitudes would have to change, if only a little.
My knowledge of blindness has increased dramatically since we became involved with the NFB. My friends and family have also been educated about blindness, directly by Macy and indirectly by the NFB. Macy's life, I realize, will have rocky times in it just as Madison's (her twin sister) life will have rocky times. But I have learned to maintain high expectations and to carry them through. I can't wait until the NFB Convention in 2009. My dream is to see Macy walk across the stage at the Board of Directors meeting and be introduced as an NFB scholarship winner!