I am a DCPS Student: Alexis McGee
Alexis McGee is a twelfth grade student at Woodrow Wilson High School. She is an honor roll student who likes her English and algebra classes, and who hopes to work in radio broadcasting. Alexis also is visually impaired.
Tell us about your time in high school.
I became visually impaired when I was 16. I started having blurry vision, and I was going back and forth to the doctor, and they were telling me it was just a sinus infection.
I think it was in March that I was staying with my sister, and the blurry vision started getting worst. I had a doctor’s appointment the day before I went blind, and I woke up the next day and couldn’t see anymore.
I was in the hospital for three months, so they could teach me how to get around independently. Then I heard about the vision program at Wilson. That was the summer of 2008.
When I became a student at Wilson for the school year, my teacher taught me technology for the computer, like how to use JAWS, which reads what I am typing and all the information that is on the computer screen.
With learning Braille, when I first started doing it, it just felt like a bunch of dots. So in my tenth grade year, my teacher started teaching me Braille on the computer, so now I am excellent in using the computer – I just know how to type it really good. But it’s still really hard to read it.
I had a dedicated aide who worked with me – she would read the work over until I knew what was going on. If I got stuck she would know how to help me to find my answers.
And then my eleventh grade year, I had a really bad year, because I didn’t have the right technology to use in classes, like a laptop.
I was getting tired because my report card looked terrible. So I said that I had to do something to make my grades go up.
What I did was call the DCPS central office, and I let them know what was going on. My sister, she called, too, so when we had an IEP meeting, the central office asked if they could come. That’s when I first met Ms. Norma (who is the program director of low incidence disabilities for the Office of Special Education).
In the IEP meeting, they talked about everything that was going on in school.
Now I have the technology stuff I need, and so I am doing much better now with classes.
In algebra, I couldn’t believe it when the first semester ended, and I got an A. I said, “I got an A?” And my teacher said, “Yeah, you are the only student in the whole math class who got an A.”
That was my first time ever making honor roll in my high school years.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I want to be a radio broadcaster. I want to go to Montgomery Community College – it’s only two years – and they are going to teach me all the technology they use in radio stations.
What’s your favorite class?
I like English and Algebra because of the students. There are students I really can talk to that can help me, and I can help them. Other classes that I have, I don’t know too many kids, and I don’t have too much help from them.
If we are in a group, I don’t always want the aide to read to me. Sometimes, the students will read it, and if they don’t know the answer and they get stuck on it, I will give them an answer.
All of us doing it together helps each other. You get to have fun while you are helping each other, too.
You also participate in a DCPS afterschool program for blind and visually impaired students at the DC Public Library – what do you think about that program?
I like the afterschool program because they bring in a lot of stuff that I didn’t know about.
They brought in a guy from the TV show The Wire, and I never knew he was visually impaired. They bring in people who we hear about, like people on TV who you didn’t know were visually impaired.
They inspired me because they are doing stuff, and you never knew they were visually impaired. That makes me think I can do what I want to do and I just don’t let the blindness stop me from doing it.
What advice would you give other kids who may have become blind and visually impaired later in life?
You have to embrace it. You change from it, because it’s always going to be there, you just can’t run away from it.
You just have to face what people throw at you in life. You are going to have a lot of people saying you can’t do this or that because you are visually impaired.
You have got to show them that this person might be visually impaired, but they’re doing the same thing, too.
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