Micah Ranquist, President
National Federation of the Blind
30 Fairground Rd.,
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Email: [email protected]
Paul Sumner, Vice President
A note from Paul:
My name is Paul Sumner from Burlington Vermont. I am your National Federation of the Blind Vice President for the state of Vermont.
I would like to begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I am 27 years old and have been totally blind since birth. I graduated in High School in 2010. But let me tell you, going to public schools was not easy by any stretch. I was exempt from many classes and school projects because the school did not know how to accommodate a person who is blind. Some of the classes I was exempt from in high school were; Physical Education, Science, and foreign languages. The school said that I was exempt; meaning that I was allowed to skip these usual parts of a high school curriculum because they might be too much more difficult for me than for others: but now, years later I feel like I was excluded.
I learned how to read Braille from the Vermont Association For the Blind and also learned basic computer skills, but the training was very limited because the school district didn’t want my academics to get in the way. This was also the case for Mobility training. I was lucky to get an hour of training a week.
About 6 months ago, I went to a Genetics doctor to try to find out what caused my blindness because my diagnosis was unknown. It turns out that I have a very rare genetic condition called Norrie Disease, which causes, detached retinas, Hearing loss, and cognitive difficulties. Looking back, I wish we would have found all of this out when I was in school, but the testing wasn’t available until very recently. I strongly feel that if we knew this when I was in school, my whole education experience would have been different.
Having said all of this, there are many things that I would like to see happen in the Federation. Most importantly, we need to build our Vermont Affiliate and make it strong again. We can not continue to survive with a handful of people doing all of the work. I am working toward encouraging other board members to step up and spread the word about the National Federation of the Blind. I feel strongly that there are a lot of blind and visually impaired people in the state of Vermont that don’t know anything about the NFB.
I would like to eventually see the NFB of Vermont have monthly board meetings either in person or by conference call and have some type of an activity for all members if not monthly, every other month spread throughout the state. Our President and Board need help from both Vermonts’ blind and blind allies to begin making tis dream a reality.
Next, I would like to make sure that blind and visually impaired students get the right training to succeed in life and not have the transition problems that I am still currently going through since I graduated from high school.
This is just a little information about myself and what I feel that we as a National Federation of the Blind needs to do to live the lives we want. I hope to meet all of you throughout my term as your National Federation of the Blind Vermont Affiliate Vice President.