It’s how we meet the challenges of life that determines who were are and what we’ll become. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Chelsea Cook is facing the challenge of being the first blind undergraduate majoring in physics at Virginia Tech.
Cook: Like anything in life, there are certain challenges, and I think it all depends on what tools and techniques you grew up and were raised with.
Ethan Groves is one of Chelsea’s classmates.
Groves: I had the opportunity to visit Chelsea’s dorm room, and I was looking at her shelf, and I said, “Oh, so, that’s all your braille books on the shelf there.” And she was like, “No. That’s one textbook.” Because braille is so much thicker than a regular page with the raised bumps, one textbook for us is 40 volumes for her.
Cook: Yeah, I can only keep about one term’s worth of books in my room at a time, which can be problematic if the professors are like, “Oh, so, remember this from last term? Well, now you got to go use it.” “Oh, great. Where’s that book?” (laughter)
I mean a lot of it just depends on attitudes and expectations of society. They tend to be low, just by nature. We, as blind people, are trying to change that and make people see that, “Oh, you’re not just a poor little blind person on the street.” You’re just a person who happens to be blind, and it’s simply a characteristic. I owe a lot of credit to my parents, who raised me and told me that I was just like everyone else, just a little bit different.
Groves: She’s definitely a pioneer for a lot of people to follow, whether blind or sighted, just because of the determination and attitude that she has.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner