Blind Students Protest Driver's Ed Requirement
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 13, 2006
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--A group of about 30 high school students with vision-related disabilities have joined forces to get Chicago Public Schools to change a policy that they claim not only wastes their time, but also makes them feel different from and inferior to their peers without disabilities.
The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that the students, all sophomores at Curie Metropolitan High School and Payton College Preparatory High, are protesting the district's requirement that students take the 10-week driver's education class and pass the written portion of the exam in order to graduate.
"Why should we have to memorize how a street sign looks when we are never going to see them while driving?" asked Teniya Booker, 17.
Mayra Ramirez, 16, who scored an A in the course, told the Tribune that while the class didn't matter to her, she felt it did make her disability stand out.
"In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," said Ramirez, 16. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."
Illinois state law requires school districts to offer driver's education. It does not require all students to take the course. And while parents of students with disabilities can request an exemption through their children's individualized education plan, few in Chicago are told this.
District spokesperson Michael Vaughn said: "I can't explain why up to this point no one has raised the issue and suggested a better way for visually impaired students to opt out of driver's ed."
"Driver's ed for blind kids?" (Chicago Tribune)