Blind student wins technology award

Staff writer

There was not a dry eye in the audience when Roy Blosser, age 11, made his way across the grand stage with his white cane, then stepped up to the microphone Dec. 5 and gave his award acceptance speech at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita. Blosser, a Goessel Elementary student and one of eight students from the state of Kansas honored at the meeting, won an award for his use of technology in education during the 6th annual Infintic Corporation meeting.

“I am sure he sees more than those of us who are sighted. He uses all of his senses,” said Susan Levra-Wallace, his teacher from the Marion County Special Education Cooperative. “It was a very proud moment for him, and I was very humbled when he stepped up and spoke right into that microphone. It was just so awesome to see how perfect he is.”

Roy was born blind. His parents, Sarita Blosser of Goessel, and the late Don Blosser, worked from the beginning to include Roy in life and school as much as possible. Wallace began working with him when he was 6 months old, and continues to be an almost constant companion for Roy as he grows and learns.

“Roy is in an inclusive program at school where he is with his classmates as much as possible every day,” Wallace said. “That is where the technology comes in. He uses equipment to do nearly everything a sighted child would do. He is very much a part of his class, socially and academically.”

Roy’s main tool of communication is the Braille-writer, a typewriter of sorts that prints out words in raised letter form. He also uses auditory equipment, and a computer program called Refresh-a-Braille that allows him to type on a keyboard and then read his work by Braille. His friends and teachers can also read on the computer what he writes by Braille.

“Roy’s whole world revolves around technology, and he loves it,” Wallace said. “In his award speech he told about his favorite tools. They included his old-school record player, a digital book reader, his Braille-writer, the laptop computer, a talking dictionary, and an electronic jump rope.”

Wallace said Roy is a very social and active student, loving to run, hop, skip, and especially swim. He uses a white cane for ground movement.

“He loves the water and is a very good swimmer,” she said. “I would guess, that if I didn’t know Roy was blind and walked into his classroom, I couldn’t pick him out. He is just very social and enjoys his friends.”

In addition to Wallace, who lives in Tampa and works in all Marion County public school systems, Roy has two para-educators and a resource room teacher to help him get through each day of school.

“Today he is taking the same test in social studies that his fourth-grade classmates are taking,” Wallace said. “He just uses a tactile map to identify the continents and oceans. And then he writes his answers out on the Braille-writer.”

The Infintic Corporation, which sponsored the grant award given to Roy last week, is a state organization that promotes technology as an equalizer for those with disabilities.

“Their goal is to advance independence and promote inclusion opportunities for children and adults with disabilities,” Wallace said.

As far as Roy is concerned, technical gifts top his Christmas list; in fact, they make up the entire list.

“It’s a good thing Roy is so smart with technology,” Wallace said. “I am sure one day he will be teaching me. These children are our future.”

There is hope that Roy might be able to see one day. Wallace said his mother keeps close tabs on the advancements of research scientists who are creating a virtual chip that could be implanted into Roy’s brain and allow him to see the world.

“They are predicting it could be ready in the next 10 to 20 years,” Wallace said. “Roy will still be a young man then. I hope I am around to see it.”

After giving his speech on a grand stage on Dec. 5, Roy received a teddy bear and a glass plaque noting his achievements from Infintec. He has yet to bring them to school, preferring to keep them in a very special place at home.

“He is proud of his achievements, as are we,” Wallace said.

 

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