Sashana Wauchope living her best life despite being blind
Sashana Wauchope was born blind but no disability can hold this vivacious 32-year-old down.
In fact, she holds a bachelor's degree in language and literature from the Shortwood Teachers' College and looks towards starting a family in the near future.
Speaking to THE WEEKEND STAR from her home on Seaward Drive, Wauchope said she looks forward to the day when members of the disabled community are given the same employment opportunities as persons who are able.
She said she is also imploring parents not to keep their children at home but to get them enrolled at the institutions that accommodate persons with physical challenges.
"There are a lot of children sitting at home and not going to school but I want the parents to know that a person's life does not stop because he or she is disabled. There is a lot of room for growth for these children. Take the visually impaired and blind children to The Salvation Army School for the Blind. That institution is a life changer," she said.
Showering the school with praises, Wauchope described her former educators as ones who are extremely dedicated to the well-being of their students.
After completing her primary level education, Wauchope attended The Queen's School, a brand new experience for her.
"Like anyone with a disability, there are always going to be challenges. My friend and I were one of the first two visually impaired students to attend that institution. We had to learn to navigate with the sighted children but the teachers were very understanding. So instead of just writing on the board, they would read to the class in order for us to dictate. We were not able to take our Braille machines to school, but after a while, through the assistance of the Disabilities Foundation, we were given laptops," she said.
She said they were never faced with any form of bullying throughout high school.
"However, at first the other students didn't understand us that much. We also had to learn to adjust to this new environment where we were with other persons that could see. Remember we are coming from a place where we saw each other as normal, but when we got to high school, we realised that there were other persons that were different from us so it took a couple of weeks for us to even start making new friends, as at first, we used to just stick by each other," she added.
After completing sixth form, Wauchope returned to The Salvation Army School for the Blind to offer her services as a library assistant.
"During that time I helped the students learn how to read in Braille. I always have a passion for teaching so I got enrolled at Shortwood Teachers' College. My years at Shortwood were really good because the population is much smaller than the other universities, so you are known by your teachers. I had wonderful room-mates and I met some really great friends there so I never once felt different or alone," she said.
Wauchope has once again returned to the classrooms of The Salvation Army, this time as a teacher who is focused on assisting her students with certain aspects of information technology.
"I assist with teaching the JAWS (Job Access With Speech) program and so far the students are resonating well with it. Braille machines are fine but I know that a lot of persons will not be able to afford one after leaving school. So the idea is to teach them to use the computer the same way a sighted person can. The only difference is, whenever you touch a key, there is an audio attached to it which will tell you exactly what you are typing," she said.
JAWS is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display.