Angela Fowler's blog en Mistakes Won't Kill You <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden view-mode-rss"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even" property="content:encoded"><p>Just the other day I took on the task of uploading some video from this past Chemistry Camp onto the Accessible Science YouTube channel. I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but will say instead that the technology and I were not on friendly terms when I finally swallowed my pride and sought the help of one of our Chem Camp graduates, a film major with extensive YouTube experience. When he looked at the channel, there were several rejected duplicate videos, I’m still not sure how they got there, and other videos whose names were computer generated defaults which were confusing at best and unprofessional at worst. In short, it was a mess! </p> <p> At this point many of you are doubtless wondering why I’m going public with this story. I’m the director of planning of Accessible Science after all, and one of my unspoken duties is to make the organization look as good as I can. To that end it behooves me to appear competent and in control. When I make a mistake or something goes wrong, some may say I should quickly cover it up to preserve that professional appearance. </p> <p>In fact, I have worked with many who have done this, leaving me with a false impression of their ability to perform flawlessly in situations where I knew I was fallible. These experiences never failed to leave me feeling incompetent and foolish. If a student or potential student ever feels that way because I failed to acknowledge my own fallibility, I have failed in what I believe is one of my most critical roles with Accessible Science. </p> <p> We call our students kids, but they’re actually on the cusp of adulthood. They are undertaking the often difficult process of learning how to complete the responsibilities which come with being adults, and they will make their share of mistakes along the way. As blind people they face additional difficulty because they are seen by society in general as less capable because they can’t see, and far too often they do not have positive blind role models to show them how blind people tackle every-day challenges. </p> <p> It is through mistakes that people, blind and sighted alike, learn to do things confidently and efficiently. It is through our own mistakes that we can best assure our students that when they themselves stumble; they are only taking the first step to greater success. As mentors and teachers, we set the best example by admitting to our mistakes and allowing our students to watch us learn from them. </p> <p>Mistakes aren’t reasons for reproach, but opportunities for growth. Sometimes that growth is painful, as the mistake which precedes it carries harsh consequences, but to not have made that mistake would carry consequences even worse. For to never make a mistake is to never try, and to never try is to never grow, and that is a mistake from which we can never profit.</p> </div></div></div> Sat, 28 Jun 2014 16:45:57 +0000 Angela Fowler 28 at GETTING IT WRONG TO GET IT RIGHT <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden view-mode-rss"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even" property="content:encoded"><p>It happens all the time. A blind person is walking to some specific destination, and somehow ends up going the wrong direction. Either he gets turned around, or misjudges the angle and veers off the mark, in either case he fails to take the direct path which would seem to a sighted person the obvious way to go. Often before he even realizes he has made a mistake, he is approached by a sighted person anxious that he be steered back on track. </p> <p> This sighted observer, unfamiliar with our methods, is doubtless only trying to be helpful, but sadly the blind person gains nothing from the experience but the nagging awareness that he made a mistake and was not able to correct it. To our sighted friends, if you see us headed in what to you is obviously the wrong direction, and we’re not headed into danger and don’t appear upset, a far better course may be to grit your teeth and let us struggle! </p> <p> Algebra is a challenge with which most of us, blind and sighted alike, have grappled. Whether we passed it with A’s or barely squeaked by, we cannot count the problems we got wrong before we finally figured out how to get them right. We miscalculated, performed steps out of order, put factors in the wrong place, and made innumerable other mistakes we can’t even identify. Eventually however, most of us learned to get enough problems right to at least get a passing grade. </p> <p> But it was the problems we got wrong which ultimately lead to the ones we got right, and so it is when blind people are learning to travel independently. All those wrong turns and miscalculations ultimately lead us to learn the right path, and those self—taught lessons are ones we are unlikely to forget. </p> <p> So, beginning blind travelers, go out there and get lost with confidence, because in travel as in Algebra as in life, it is not how often you get lost which matters, its your ability to get unlost.</p> </div></div></div> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 17:16:33 +0000 Angela Fowler 27 at Its Something That We Do <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden view-mode-rss"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even" property="content:encoded"><p> This post was inspired by an off-hand comment made by a sighted relative of one of my clients who remarked about me: “She’s good at being blind.” At first I was merely complimented, and gladdened that this direct, no-nonsense person was seeing me in a favorable light, but then I got to thinking about what she said. This woman understands on an intuitive level something which it takes far too many people a lifetime to grasp, that being blind isn’t merely a passive condition, but a set of actions which we undertake when faced with the loss of site, actions which enable us to live life to the fullest. </p> <p> So, what do we do anyway? We use a long white cane to get from place to place. We read Braille in the same way sighted people read print. We use computers which quite literally tell us what’s on the screen. Most of all, we are creative and resourceful, devising ways of doing necessary tasks without the use of vision, and sharing those tips with other blind people. </p> <p> This last is one of the crucial missions of Accessible Science, to provide opportunities for blind students, and blind non-students to ask questions, get answers, and generally discuss just how we go about doing this thing we call being blind. </p> </div></div></div> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 14:59:39 +0000 Angela Fowler 22 at Why This Psychology Major <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden view-mode-rss"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even" property="content:encoded"><p>I was proud of the parent who, during a conversation about her son’s attendance of a recent Chem Camp, asked me the question which many doubtless wonder. When I mentioned that I was a psychology major she came right out with: “So what in the world are you doing running a science camp?” I will tell you what I told her. </p> <p> I got a very good education growing up. I was challenged, particularly by Algebra, and discovered my knack for writing and my love for psychology. There was one hole in my schooling however, and that was in the area of science. </p> <p> I took physical science and biology, but barely participated in the labs because neither I nor my teachers knew how to make them accessible to me. I did not take Chemistry because we did not think it was safe. I’m not blaming my teachers; if I’d known the way blind people did science, I’m sure they’d have tried it. I memorized enough of the material to scrape by with low Bs and Cs, but because I had nothing to apply it too promptly forgot it. Science was a big, gaping hole in my knowledge and to some extent still is. </p> <p> Then I met Henry (Hoby) Wedler. Here was a totally blind guy who was majoring in Chemistry! Well, here was proof that a blind person could do chemistry, and that I and my high school instructors could have made my science experience far richer than it was. If only we had had the knowledge… </p> <p> When he approached me in late 2010 about doing a Chemistry Camp for blind high school students, something clicked in my mind. My experience was what it was, and I couldn’t go back and change it. I could however help to insure that future blind High School students and science teachers were equipped with the knowledge to make science accessible. </p> <p> So here we are, having just completed our fourth annual Chemistry camp, and already beginning to think about next year. The application will come out in January. If you are a blind High School student interested in science, I hope that you will apply. If you are a science teacher, please come to us with your questions. If you have tips and tricks you want to share, please share them. Whoever you are, I hope that you will find this site helpful. The study of science is for blind and sighted alike; let’s work together to ensure that this is so.</p> </div></div></div> Tue, 13 May 2014 12:02:28 +0000 Angela Fowler 15 at Introducing Myself <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden view-mode-rss"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even" property="content:encoded"><p>I am Angela Fowler, you know, that lady you’re supposed to call if you have any questions about Chemistry Camp. Yes, I am the lady who deals with the logistics, a mentor, and the psychology major who, for reasons I will explain in a future blog post, is working on a science camp.<br /> I am excited that our new web site offers me the chance to write a blog, to offer my thoughts, my reflections, and sometimes, as I am told I am very good at, my unsolicited free advice. Before we delve into all that though, I thought I’d take a few minutes to paint a picture of the person behind Accessible Science’s director of planning. </p> <p> I am the mother of a 7-year-old boy, Jefferson. He is energetic, smart, and constantly keeps me on my toes. Being a parent is a tough job, maybe the toughest I’ve ever done, but it is so rewarding.</p> <p> I am about to graduate from Sac State university with a BA in psychology. I am a certified adaptive technology instructor, and teach computers to blind folks throughout the north state. </p> <p> I enjoy cooking on the BBQ, watching baseball, bantering about baseball, and chatting about life with good friends. I also make my own beef jerky which, most would agree, is pretty darn good. </p> <p> I am serious and determined, but have a vibrant, sometimes wacky sense of humor. I am practical yet emotional, strong yet kind. I am deeply loyal to my friends, always try to see the good in others, and yet determine to stand strong against unfairness or injustice. </p> <p> There was a time when I thought blind people could do little without sighted assistance. Training at the Colorado Center for the blind changed that, and I am determined to help others see their potential. </p> <p> Sometimes I come off as brusque, or businesslike, or even cold. Once the work is done, that facade crumbles. I’m actually a friendly, engaging person and a good listener. So come on down and say “hi,” and let’s chat about life. I look forward to hearing what’s on your mind.</p> </div></div></div> Sun, 19 Jan 2014 00:40:38 +0000 Angela Fowler 14 at