To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how best to convince you to support the Equal Access Collaborative (EAC) and its mission of inclusion for B/VI kiddos like Peanut. I can give you the snippit from their Web site, describing EAC as:
a nonprofit organization pairing highly-qualified Visual Impairment professionals with families of students with visual impairments. [Their] goal is to improve inclusion for students who have trouble accessing visual information at school. [They] believe in transformational leadership as a powerful tool for culture change in education.
But honestly, I don’t think that’s enough. Instead, I’m going to tell you why I think that this organization will succeed.
Kathy Alstrin, EAC’s founder, is a TVI, COMS, and Ph.D. student. She was also Peanut’s first TVI. I have witnessed first-hand her absolute commitment to equal access and absolute faith in the ability of B/VI children to go on to live normal lives with the correct support, and her determination that that support will be provided, even in the face of organizational politics working to her personal detriment. When we first started this journey, our early in-home therapists asked us what our goal was for Peanut: we responded “for him to have a normal life.” Where other in-home workers gave us odd, concerned looks, like we were being unreasonable or overly hopeful, Kathy whole-heartedly agreed–of course, that was the goal. That still is the goal. Kathy is an enormous part of why, in Peanut’s case and I believe in many others, that goal is absolutely reachable.
I am also privileged to be part of the group helping launch this organization, albeit from the background in my case. I know the people who are putting this together, and they are amazing: these are TVIs, COMS, people with visual impairments (many of whom happen to be TVIs and COMS), parents of children with visual impairments, and more. All are passionate about our B/VI kids getting equal access and collaborating with parents and caregivers to make sure that our kids get their best chance, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay, their education level, or their ability to argue. I know first-hand what it’s like to be in a school district that doesn’t believe in my kid and having to argue that basic services (braille!) be provided. EAC is here to help make sure that no parent in that situation has to go it alone.
If you are interested in finding out more about EAC, please visit their Web site at: https://equalaccesscollaborative.org/
If you would like to make a donation and help this 501(c)(3) get started, please visit the fall fundraiser at: https://www.gofundme.com/improvinginclusionforVIstudents