When I was in grade school, I was taught to read large print text. I attended school in the late 70s and 80s. At the time, my understanding was that children who had low vision were taught to read print, instead of Braille. My large print books were heavy and huge. At first the other children thought my books were cool, but I hated the books because they were big, bulky, and the pictures were awful. They couldn’t blow up the pictures unless it was done in black and white. All of this made me feel different than the other children.
When I read text, I have to hold it right up to my nose in order to see it clearly. I have vision only in my left eye. When I entered the third grade I got a pair of reading glasses. These glasses were extremely thick and could not be used for viewing distance. I liked the glasses though because they allowed me to see a larger area of the print, so I used them most of the time. Reading print took a long time because of the fact that I only had the vision in one eye and because I had to hold everything so close.
When I was not in school, I didn’t read for pleasure. Once in a while I would pick up a book, but it was usually something I had already read and I would skip around and only read the parts I thought were interesting. Every time there was something to read for school, I would think, “Oh no, I have to read this.” I would actually glance through the text to see how long the paragraphs were and I would look for pages that had lots of pictures because it meant I could skip them. Sometimes I would count the number of pages that I had to read, wasting time that I could have been using to get the reading complete.
When I entered high school, I was placed in the Reading Lab a few days a week. The teacher would give each of us interesting short stories to read. It was actually the first time I read something that seemed enjoyable. At the beginning of the year, the teacher would test our reading comprehension and repeat the test at the end of the year. I did notice that my reading comprehension improved each year and that made me feel good.
When I went to college, I took a required study skills course, which taught me many valuable techniques and strategies to help me find the important parts of the text books. But, I still hated reading and would find any way possible to either avoid it, or get someone else to do it for me and read it aloud to me.
Once I graduated from college I really didn’t read much of anything, unless it was necessary. I have many friends who use the NLS books and the BARD website to listen to audio books. Sometimes people will buy audio books for me. They are nice to listen to, but it has still taken me a long time to do reading for pleasure.
Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution. I promised myself that since I write for this magazine, that I would read every weekly edition. Well, I made sure to read each and every weekly edition of it. I have to tell you, I’ve learned so much from all of the other writers and I’ve gotten great enjoyment and education from reading it each week. I’d like to thank my fellow writers for doing such a great job and thank you for inspiring me to read each week for pleasure. I intend to read each week’s edition in 2014 and am looking forward to learning from everyone. Thanks for making reading a pleasure for me!