SFA course helps students understand what it's like to be visually impaired

More than a dozen people were roamed the streets of downtown Lufkin with a walking stick and a blindfold, part of a simulated course that is geared to helping the visually impaired.

The students are trying to learn what it's like to rely on other senses when you have no eyesight.

Carmen Appelt traveled more than 200 miles to Lufkin, to experience what it feels like to be blind.

"I am already a teacher of students with visual impairments where I live. So I am just getting an extra certification so that I can serve more students in my area," Appelt said.

The Halletsville teacher said Monday she got the chance to put herself in her students' shoes. Instructor Kevin McCormack completed the six week course more than 10 years ago, and explained how the course works.

"We are learning how to cross streets with a blindfold, you are just listening to your traffic, using clues in your environment to know where you are," McCormack said.

"Crossing Frank Street was terrifying. The traffic was very heavy and you didn't know if people were going to turn," Appelt said.

Nacogdoches resident, Tammi Jackson works with special needs children in east Texas. She said taking this course will help her better perform her job.

"I am doing this because I understand that there is a need for teachers and specialist in the community," Jackson said.

Now that Appelt has more of an understanding, she can better relate to her students that are visually impaired.

"Some of the things I noticed using the equipment was the sidewalk changes. The texture can either serve as a clue or throw you off," Appelt said.

A lesson she said she's glad to take back home.

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