Blind like me

February 4, 2013 • Posted in blindness, Braille, careers/jobs for people who are blind, guest blog, technology for people who are blind, Uncategorized by

I didn’t need to be able to see to know that 11-year-old Ali Krage was hopping from one foot to the other when she introduced herself to me back in 2004. “I’m blind like you and I can read Braille and I go to the same school my twin sister goes to, but she can see, can you give me your email address? We can be pen pals!” Who could refuse an invitation like that? Ali and I have used adaptive technology to keep in touch ever since. The email messages she sends these days come with the tagline “Sent from my iPhone,” and when she left home to go away to school last fall, I kept up with her progress by reading her tweets. Here she is now with a guest post about what it’s been like learning how to live on her own.

Ali Krage, today's guest blogger.

Ali Krage, today’s guest blogger.

One of the best decisions I have ever made

by Ali Krage

My name is Ali Krage and I am 20 years old. I attend the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and this is my first time being at a school with only blind and visually impaired students. This is my first year here. The school is far away from my home in the Chicago suburbs — it’s located about 30 minutes from Springfield, Illinois, and it serves elementary school, middle school, and high school students. They also have a transition program, where they teach us daily living skills, and that’s what I am a part of.

When I was in public school, they did their best to teach things like folding laundry and cooking, but in order to do these things, I’d have to be pulled out of classes. Here at ISVI, daily living is actually a class in itself. They have Life Management, where we learn how to do laundry and we learn different life skills. They teach us about self confidence and advocating for ourselves.

Like it goes with any new experience, I was nervous. I was nervous to be away from home for so long. I was nervous I wouldn’t make many friends. I was excited, though, too. I was looking forward to learning new things, and I knew that in the end this would turn out to be a worthwhile experience.

I have been here since August 19, and this is my home away from home, my second family. I have met a variety of different people — we come from different parts of the state, we have different visual impairments, and we have a wide range of interests. Such diversity is pleasant. It’s amazing how people with so many different personalities can get along so well. I actually heard from a teacher once that this is one of the most mature and nicest group of kids they’ve had so far.

In the beginning of January, I requested some job experience. I figured it’d help; I’ll be here for only one more year after this, and the more experience I get, the better. After filling some forms out, I got a job as a volunteer at the Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living (JACIL). I am an office assistant. I work the front desk and manage the phones, and sometimes I put stamps on postcards or make Braille labels. It really depends on what they need.

I have gotten so much out of this experience so far. I love my job, I love my friends, and I love this place all together. Coming here was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Hava Hegenbarth On February 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I wish you success in your future endeavors Ali. May you have a long and rewarding life filled with incredible experiences.

Teryl Brewster On February 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I am very excited for you and I hope you continue to enjoy your adventure and make lifelong friends along the way. I was reflecting back on my adjustment to blindness training experience today. It was a year ago that I went to Minneapolis for six months away from my children, work and PhD program here in Illinois. I have never been away from my children for such a long period of time.. I learned a great deal and made great friends of whom i still keep in contact with. I have been luck enough to visit some of them in their home towns. I enjoyed reading your story, it warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face. Keep on keeping on.

Ali Krage On February 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Thank you for the comments. I’m sure I will make lifelong friends here 🙂

Maria On February 6, 2013 at 12:30 am

So happy Ali had such a great experience….good for her. I am certain she will be a success in life from what I read.

Bob On February 6, 2013 at 12:37 am

Sounds like college. Do you get college credit?

Carla On February 6, 2013 at 12:38 am

“Such diversity is pleasant.” I agree!

hannah On December 31, 2014 at 12:49 am

I have known Ali for such a long time! She is one of my good friends! I am so proud of her strides. She has become so independent. She’s come a long way since we started keeping in touch in 2007. She can do almost anything a sighted person can! Ali has overcome so many obstacles! She’s bold, smart, funny, and willing to face the world! They say that people become wise when they get older, but Ali is one of the wisest people I know. She has taught me so many valuable life lessons, especially lessons about friendship. She will always remain a part of my life. Nothing anybody says will bring Ali down. She has so much strength.

bethfinke On December 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

Yes, and she’s a whole lot of fun, too! Glad you found this post about her, Hannah. We both are lucky to have Ali as a friend.


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