From the Louisiana School of the Blind to HU, freshman Noah Mondor navigates through life–and campus–blind.
By Ashlye Silva, Contributor
[Music enters at half volume: “Acrylic’” by Michael Ellis for approximately 5 seconds]
GABE GAFF: Life for a college student can be interesting. Life for a blind student could be even more. Freshman sociology student Noah Mondor walks across HU’s campus after attending the Louisiana School of the Blind. Ashlye Silva has the story.
ASHLYE SILVA: Adopted from the Philippines, Mondor grew up in Indiana with two siblings. As a blind student, he has had many experiences that have helped him grow. He’s been blind his whole life.
NOAH MONDOR: I was born like that. I can see a little bit of light. I got a good family. Growing up was good and there were other blind people who were role models.
SILVA: According to the National Federation of the Blind, there were 63,357 blind students in 2017. Huntington University strives to provide an equal opportunity for all students. College so far hasn’t been much of a struggle for Mondor as far as people who help out.
MONDOR: Helpers become friends. If I ever have questions I just email my professors. Everything is good there.
SILVA: Throughout school experiences, Mondor has faced stubbornness with staff and technology.
MONDOR: It was better in high school. Middle school elementary, nope.
SILVA: An Inside Higer Ed article by Lindsay McKenzie states that the shift to remote learning has been challenging for blind students. Not only this, but similar problems went on before students faced online learning. Mondor’s family made formal complaints to school boards to help him succeed earlier on in his education. In a zoom interview with McKenzie, she told me about issues for blind students with remote learning and school in general. I ask her what issues she’s seeing with blind students and remote learning.
LINDSAY MCKENZIE: Issues with screen readers and technology–I think there was also a problem with students not being allocated enough time. It seems like blind students were very much an afterthought. Something that has made institutions pay attention to these issues are lawsuits. When students have parents that notice they have things inaccessible, they’ll sue the school.
SILVA: As far as what teachers and professors can do to help, McKenzie sees solutions.
MCKENZIE: Putting together course materials–I can’t see a downside to it. Captions on videos help–text to speech is very helpful. Making things accessible to a screen reader is a good first step.
SILVA: Mondor, for example, uses a screen reader. In the article, McKenzie mentions, ““Every blind student has a different way of working. Some are more tech-savvy, and some prefer Braille. It just depends on what they’re comfortable with, what they like and what they know.””
SILVA: Luckily for Mondor, while the pandemic hit, he was out of high school and attending the Louisiana School of the Blind. He still wrestled with remote learning.
MONDOR: They also show you how to do wood shop and cook, they show you travel skills. Then you know where you’re going. It’s pretty fun though.
SILVA: The school of the blind didn’t only teach Mondor life skills. One day he tripped on the sidewalk and cut his thumb, having no bandaid in sight.
MONDOR: I used my knife and I cut a piece of my shirt off and wrapped it as a bandaid. I had to figure out something.
SILVA: He was proud of what he learned in wood shop.
MONDOR: I made a cutting board. It was my final project. I prefer hands on, like woodwork.
SILVA: Mondor made the decision to enter HU as a sociology major, ready to explore.
MONDOR: I like to learn but I don’t like to learn. Sociology sounded interesting. I like Dr. Ruthi.
SILVA: Mondor said that he has a good memory. If you tell him something, he could probably remember it ten years down the road. Sociology seems like a good match for this reason. He likes to hop on new ideas and find answers to them. Outside of school, Mondor enjoys wood working, hockey games and a lot more.
MONDOR: At home I like to hang out with my friends and family.
SILVA: Mondor is also trying to become a rapper as a creative way to express himself.
MONDOR: Im trying to do the 16 day bar challenge. I write down things that are in my head. I want to keep practicing. I’m inspired by Kendrick and Eminem and Kanye. I play trumpet and guitar.
SILVA: Mondor enjoys company and is always looking for friends. He will happily spark up a conversation if approached on campus. I’m Ashlye Silva reporting.
[Music closes at half volume: “Acrylic’” by Michael Ellis for approximately 5 seconds]