It’s National Teacher Appreciation Day! How Will You Show Your Gratitude for Teachers of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?

Teacher giving personal instruction to male student

Today is a day for honoring all teachers in the teaching profession and for recognizing the contributions they have made to the lives of their students. Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s beloved teacher, once said, “No greater honor can be paid a teacher than the recognition of her work.” As a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and former student of many influential teachers, I couldn’t agree more with Anne.

This week, students, parents, and others will recognize the important work of teachers in various meaningful ways. Students in a high school I visited last week made signs to post throughout the campus which read “Teachers are Superheroes!” The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) of a local elementary school will honor teachers at their school with a pancake breakfast (Thank you PTO!). I’m sure I speak for all teachers when I say, we appreciate the recognition and thoughtful gestures.

At the end of the day though, the ultimate reward for a teacher’s work lies within the students we teach and their success in life. Anne Sullivan Macy (again) expressed it best, “For years I have known the teacher’s one supreme reward, that of seeing the child she had taught grow into a living force in the world.”

Teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialists, and rehabilitation professionals have an important role in shaping the lives of babies, children, adults, and seniors who are blind or visually impaired. Our ultimate goal as teaching professionals is to empower our students with visual impairments with the skills they need to achieve their goals and dreams at home, work, and in their communities.

So, how can you honor teachers of students with visual impairments who have a personal investment in your current and future success as a student who is blind or visually impaired? In addition to the pancake breakfast and handmade signs that we look forward to, I offer you three more ideas:

Ideas for Honoring Your Teacher

  • Call, email, or write a letter to a teacher who had an impact on your life. Teachers find the upmost joy in learning about the success of past students. Reach out and share your personal and professional accomplishments with a teacher, and express your gratitude for the influence she had on your success. I assure you, your teacher will cherish your call or letter for a lifetime.
  • Do something to foster your success that would make your teacher proud of you. Fill out the job application she encouraged you to complete, use the self-determination skills she taught you, and advocate as a leader for yourself at school, overcome your reluctance to utilize your white cane by using it to cross the street on your walk home, etc.
  • Tell your teacher why she is your superhero! When I saw the signs students made last week, I caught myself wondering, “Why do students think teachers have superhuman talents?” Well, maybe I can think of a few reasons (smile). If you have or had a teacher who is your superhero, tell her why. Did she give you the courage to apply to college or disclose your visual impairment during a job interview? As teachers of students with vision loss, we want to know what we taught you that has impacted your success, so we can do the same for other students who are blind or visually impaired. We also care about the legacy we leave behind as teachers, and if we can do anything to improve our legacy, you can be certain we will.

Teachers across the field of Visual Disabilities, AFB appreciates and values the work you do each day to prepare students who are blind or visually impaired to “grow into a living force in the world.”

Students of all ages—don’t let today end without honoring a teacher who has made a difference in your life as a student who is blind or visually impaired.

Teachers, if you need a reminder of the lasting impact your work has on students. Read the following stories of inspiration:

Reflections from a High School Graduate

Jake’s Story