There are so many memories about IBSSS, that if I thought long & hard about it, I could probably do a blog just on that! The best I can do for anyone who reads these words, is to highlight some of the more memorable things.
IBSSS, was under control of the State Board of Regents. Besides being in control of the three major universities; University of Iowa, Iowa State, & the University of Northern Iowa, two special schools were under the Board of Regent's control. IBSSS, & the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs. At the time that I attended IBSSS, there were 160 of us; kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of this writing, IBSSS is no longer in existence. Enrollment, went from 160 to 9. Parents had a different attitude; in that they wanted to have their kids at home with them.
Being away at school, took some getting used to. Like anyone else, I experienced homesickness. I would go home on weekends. Then, as I settled in, & got used to the environment there, trips home became less frequent. Part of the reason for that, was that we were with other kids who had the same issues; blindness. We were learning together, at different levels.
I was introduced to Braille, when I was in kindergarten. The teacher who taught us this was herself, totally blind. We read all of the Dick & Jane books, & learned how to use flash cards. How long does it take to learn Braille? I know that for some, it takes eight months. For me, it wasn't until I was in third grade before I had it mastered. When that glorious day came to be, I was so proud; because knowing how difficult this was for me to grasp, there was a real sense of accomplishment.
So, what books did I enjoy reading way back when? I enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books; because they were Sherlock Holmes Stories. Another author I liked was Lora Engels Wilder. "Little House On the Prairie," & "On the Banks of Plumcreek," come to mind. We had a library on campus, where we could check out books. We could get them either in Braille, or in talking book form. Those books generally were produced at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky. Back in the old days, they were recorded on vinyl records. Braille would be on one side, to indicate the first side of the record.
I mentioned in the early going that I could probably just write an entire book on the school itself. We were not denied any opportunities, when it came to learning. We learned many of the same subjects that were taught in public school. Math, English, speech, spelling, you name it! We also had music & athletics. In music, we had choir & band. I also took piano lessons from a piano teacher who herself was totally blind. From her, I learned to read Braille Music.