Sally Can’t See

Sally Can't See coverSally Can’t See
Petersen
1974

Submitter: The highlight of the book is right there on the cover.  A poor blind child with a bird on her head.

Holly: This book is definitely outdated.  It isn’t so bad otherwise, but I’m sure we could offer a book about how modern kids cope with blindness. There’s no mention here of new technology like screen readers, which is what kids would be interested in knowing today.  I mean, how does Sally read her email?

Sally's walking stick

Sally's blindness

Sally's school

0

  1. Oddly enough, this brings to mind that scene from “Dumb and Dumber” where he gives that blind kid a canary…

    “Pretty bird, pretty bird…”

    Hmmmmmm, I hope that in today’s society parents take an active interest in their blind child’s education…vs. dumping them at a “special school” and picking her back up for the “holidays.”

    1. Many parents who enroll their child at residential schools aren’t “dumping” their kid, but the opposite. Only 10% of blind school-age children can use Braille, because most schools can’t afford a Braille-qualified teacher for one student. 90% of blind adults who are Braille literate are employed. Among adults who do not know Braille, only 33% are employed.

      (Also most full-time students at residential schools have multiple disabilities.)

    2. There are far more options these days. It was more like a sacrifice than a dumping. Try to hold your judgment until you understand the problem. My profoundly deaf sister had to spend 9 weeks across the state at the university when she was 4 years old because that was the closest place for her to learn what she needed to learn. It was gut wrenching for my parents who couldn’t leave their ranch and jobs to be there with her. No one was unkind enough to suggest we were dumping her there.

    3. The state school for the blind where I live offers residential programs and students can also attend a combination of their local school and the blind school. It has an active partnership with the local high school as well so the students who are in residence can take classes there as well.

      It exists to teach them skills that their local schools are not equipped to teach (cooking, Braille, job hunting), provides sports instruction, and also provide them with contact with students who are like them as well.

      I’d like to believe that we are beyond the idea of “dumping” kids.

  2. This book makes me feel sorry for Sally. These days, she’d be working with a braille laptop or using voice-controlled software (or a combo of both). Time this book went.

  3. I can’t wait to see the sequel, in which 50-year-old Sally is mortally terrified of the pitter-patter of little bird feet.

    And what the heck is going on that second photo? It looks like Sally is trying to mate a fish and an owl. Boarding school does crazy things to a person.

    1. No, no this was a very progressive boarding school. Wood shop and home ec were SO last year, and Sally had an axe to grind with those pesky birds, so she enrolled in Taxidermy 101.

      1. I’m simultaneously curious and scared to see the results of a Taxidermy class at a School for the Blind.

  4. Yes, boys and girls, Sally was born blind, and her Mummy and Daddy didn’t love her, and they dumped her in a ‘special’ school, so they could concentrate on their proper, non-disabled children. Ughh!!

  5. Agreed, @Jr! What a tragic and potentially terrifying message — “If you become blind, you won’t be able to live with your family any more.” Gah!

  6. I wonder if at the time they realized how unintentionally hilarious the cover is. And I agree with Jr, the whole “special school” thing is kind of a horrifying concept.
    On a side note, I wonder if anybody’s thought of creating a screen reader that can handle txt speak and lol speak…almost seems like an internet survival must for those under 20.

  7. Today, Sally would attend the neighborhood school, and have an individualized learning plan that would keep her mainstreamed as much as possible.

    1. She’ll get a Braille copy of Lyddie! It’ll be the only book in the classroom that isn’t 20 years old!

      >:( Jealousy.

  8. My mother was a mobility instructor at a school for the blind. She did not only work at the school, but traveled to schools in the district teaching children in “regular” schools how to use a cane to cross the street, take the bus, and generally get around.

    Many of those children had multiple disabilities. She told me very rarely was a child completely blind, but more commonly the children were visually impaired, and either had limited vision or could at least see shadows and light and darkness.

  9. “On these school holidays, Sally urinates on the floor and sets small fires to express her anger at being abandoned.” During long, sleepless nights on the foldout couch, she devises ways to maim and torture her live at home siblings.”

  10. Why are people so up in arms about the school? Lots of parents even now adays can’t get their kids to a school that’s equipped to handle a child who’s blind. And heck, it’s no different then being sent to boarding school.

    If anything it probably was helpful to kids to let them know they’re not alone. No so-called “normal” kids to bully them. It must’ve been good for their self esteem.

    1. I agree. If the school is equipped to meet their needs and not just a place to hide students, I can see a lot of merit to a special school. There are lots of good ideas and intentions behind mainstreaming, but I’ve seen in reality that it doesn’t always work as intended or really benefits those students. As someone above mentioned, there’s benefit to economies of scale. A school that only has one blind student, let’s say, can’t provide the range of services that would benefit a student as an entire school devoted to students with that particular disability. Being away from home, though, would be a huge drawback.

  11. @jamisings I think it’s just the way it’s presented in the book — like it’s the only option and she’s forced into it. Clearly it goes on to talk about all the good things the school does, but that one paragraph is pretty abrupt and bleak.

    1. Yeah, the way it talks about her “sleep[ing] at school every night” is kind of bleak. It makes it sound like boarding school is a bizarre concept that only applies to disabled students, and there’s no other option.

  12. As someone who lives near the venerable Perkins School for the Blind and who has a good friend who’s legally blind in some circumstances (he can see well enough to read large print books but not well enough to drive, for example), my issues aren’t with the school but rather with the somewhat bizarre portrayal of this child, not to mention some of the newer developments in aiding people with visual impairment.

  13. I have learned that most blind people are not completely blind. I wish that books would not encourage this misunderstanding, as with ‘what she sees is what we call black,’ and so forth.

    The other day I attempted to avoid conversation on the train by quietly seating myself across from a blind man while other passengers were noisily arranging their bicycles. Alas, the blind man saw me and attempted to witness to me for Christ. It was terrible and I blame the writers and publishers of books like this one for my horrible experience.