Friday, 23 September 2011


Most children dread going back to school. Nevertheless, they accept it as an inevitable part of being a kid. Unlike regular students, I feared being sent back to my former residential institution for a far different reason. Though I attended a public school in Edmonton, beginning in 1970, and went home on weekends, a nagging worry haunted me that I would again be exiled five hundred miles from my family for months at a stretch.

In Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I described the ecstasy I felt when I suddenly realized that I would never be sent back to that soul-destroying institution. Here's what I wrote.


The fear of being returned to Jericho lessened as I attended public school but it never quite disappeared. One September afternoon, a sudden realization struck me. The officials could no longer send me back to Jericho. That school only went up to grade ten. During the past two years, I managed to catch up with the rest of my schoolmates.

Because the public school curriculum was a year ahead of Jericho's, I needed to work hard at first in order to earn mediocre marks. Even so, my report cards conclusively proved that I could learn along with my sighted peers. I suddenly realized that I was fully integrated into the public system and had no need to fear being institutionalized again. The joy which swept over me was palpable. I danced around my housekeeping room for five minutes straight, gleeful that I was home to stay. "They can't send me back!" I repeated to myself. That was one of the happiest days of my high school years.

A teacher at Jericho had once told me that exceptional students did receive tutoring for grade eleven and twelve. I would have refused to go back to Jericho in any case since I proved my ability to learn in the public system. I was almost sixteen and conscious that I was a human being with rights. Though I did not matriculate, I passed grade twelve and received my diploma. My heart swelled with pride that I accomplished such a feat.


Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this compelling story. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.

1 comment:

  1. I was delivered from the Arizona State School for the deaf and Blind after about five and a half years when my parents mainstreamed me into a public school because they weren't happy with the education I was receiving at the school for the blind. One day, the P.E. teacher from the school for the blind showed up in my classroom at the public school. Thinking he was there to take me back to the school for the blind, my first instinct was to dive under the teacher's desk, but that would have been futile because he knew I was there since he greeted me when he walked in the room. As it turned out, he was just there to check up on me, to be sure that I had everything I needed and that I was happy.

    After we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, and I was mainstreamed again into a public school, I occasionally had nightmares about that P.E. teacher or my fifth grade teacher at the school for the blind coming back for me, but I woke up feeling safe and knowing that the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind was a thing of the past.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome


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