Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Learned to Ice Skate

by Donna J. Jodhan

Growing up in Canada often means that ice skating is par for the course but for blind and visually impaired kids? Many of you may think that it is not possible but I am here to tell you that it most definitely is.

Now, please do not go limp on me here! You're probably trying to figure out in your minds how or why would someone want to skate on ice if they are unable to see where they are going? Why would they want to put themselves through share torture? How on earth would they be able to retain their footing and keep from falling? These are all very logical and legitimate questions and I'll be very honest with you. I took the step to learn to ice skate in order to improve my confidence. Skating without much vision can be very daunting and scary and it was for me when I first started but I was determined to overcome my fears.

When I first learned to ice skate, I had some vision so it was not too bad for me and it has helped me tremendously to continue on now that I have lost most of my vision. I managed to complete four of six levels and learned to do such things as: Glide on one foot, skate backwards, skull, do cross cuts and hockey stops, and more. I still skate regularly but without much vision I have to use different techniques in order to stay on my blades.

Ice skating gives me the feeling of power, self-control, and togetherness. Up until five years ago, I used to skate on my own with limited guidance but now I skate by holding on to a friend’s arm. Ice skating brings me freedom! The feeling of pure bliss and exhilaration! I can be myself when I step on to the ice. I can fly high by feeling the wind in my face and smelling the fresh air and as Whitney Huston says in one of her songs: “Give me one moment in time. When I’m more than I thought I could be! When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answer is all up to me.”

When I am on the ice, I am on the top of the world and sight or the lack of really does not matter to me. I know that when others see me ice skating they stop and stare but I do not really care. My friends often tell me that occasionally skaters bump into each other while staring at me. Let them! I am blind but I can skate and have fun just like them.

I even played ice hockey! No, not within the mainstream environment, but with a team of blind and sighted players. This hockey team has been in existence since the 1970s and has traveled to such places as Russia and Finland to play other teams of blind players. Click this link if you would like to learn more about this team:

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, an accessibility and special needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

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