Print edition page number(s) 515-515
Preparing to write the first draft of this editorial, I opened my computer on a Sunday-afternoon flight home from a small resort island in South Carolina. I had just concluded a fun-filled (read: exhausting) four days with part of the family, including three small children, at a very unique reunion. Five years ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of accompanying a niece and her husband to China and serving as aunt and uncle and godparents to the baby daughter whom we all traveled to collect. Now, we were in South Carolina with a gaggle of 6- to 7-year-old girls of Chinese origin in a swimming pool: a bunch of clearly Caucasian men picking up these little girls and throwing them the air, creating lots of splashes and squeals of joy. I couldn't help but notice the many looks of the other resort guests--a mixture of curiosity, wonderment, and subtle smiles of acknowledgment at the shared pleasure our diverse group was experiencing.
Later that evening, my wife and I commented on how much society has changed in the last 50 years. Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus, the lunch counter strikes, Selma, Birmingham, and school integration all occurred during my lifetime. Around the world, apartheid ended in South Africa after years of Fighting but without a civil war. Although it is true that we continue to have cultural and racial strife in the United States, and certainly the world has seen incredible ethnic violence (in Bosnia and Rwanda, to name but two areas of conflict), it is clear to me that we become better human beings when we embrace diversity, because it allows us to become less fearful of differences. I believe I am more understanding and accepting of differences in others because of the life experiences offered by my precious little niece, and I hope that the looks and smiles of curiosity of the other guests demonstrated that they too recognize that external differences hide the internal similarities we all have: the need to be loved and to share our lives with those who are important to us.
I relate this story, because the lead article for the September issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is about the needs of teachers who serve students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The authors identified six important themes from their self-report questionnaire: culturally responsive teaching, resources, how to work with families, a methods course, how to work with interpreters, and practicum opportunities. So, although the happiness of experiencing cultural diversity can lead to self-improvement, diversity comes at a cost--the necessity of adapting what we do and how we do it to meet the needs of the students we serve. Although we all hope that cultural integration of language, customs, and values will eventually bring us closer together as a society, as teachers, we begin this process by understanding the life experiences and cultural needs of our students. Correa-Torres and Durando, authors of the lead article, make a contribution to the literature by identifying what teachers of the visually impaired need to do when preparing to teach culturally diverse students.
The September issue continues with articles covering a wide range of topics, including the findings of a survey of teachers on a set of assistive technology competencies, the perspectives of teachers preparing students for higher education, and a single-subject study on ways to interact with a boy who is deaf-blind.
If none of the above has whet your appetite, you are sure to find something of value in the many features in this month's issue, including Practice Perspectives, COSB Commentary, Book Review, and the rest. Enjoy.
Editor in Chief
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