Zohar, who was born with visual impairment, did not define herself as having special needs until she began volunteering in the kindergarten of children with disabilities like hers. Today she serves as a kindergarten teacher, and is sure that her disability is an advantage: “It empowers and strengthens them to see the way I went”
Kindergarten teacher, 37 years old, married with three children, lives in Jerusalem
I’m visually impaired. I was born with a disease called toxoplasma, as a result of an infection that may be caused by cats that my mother was exposed to during pregnancy.My visual impairment is manifested in damage to the central vision in both eyes: the left eye is defined as the functional eye, in which I can see very few things but only up close, and in the right eye I see only in a way that allows me to distinguish colors and identify large bodies. From afar I don’t see at all. I don’t use glasses or other auxiliary devices because they can’t correct my vision, so my disability “can’t be seen on me.”
I attended a regular school and Fought to keep up with the class. Socially, I’ve never had a problem. Since I was not exposed to the consciousness of special needs or knew other people with a vision impairment, I never perceived myself as such – and in a way I even moved away from being associated with this world. I’ve erred in everything: I’ve been practicing ground gymnastics, instruments and ice skating for years, despite the risk of the required height and equilibrium.
In 2006, I came to Israel for a year and chose to volunteer with Elia, which specializes in the treatment of infants, toddlers and children with blindness or visual impairment.I joined as a kindergarten volunteer with a vision impairment, and working there changed the course of my life. The experience was so powerful that I decided to immigrate to Israel and take a more meaningful role in the guidance and guidance of visually impaired children and toddlers.
I immigrated to Israel, returned to work in kindergarten, and at the same time began to study special education.About seven years ago, I was appointed kindergarten teacher in the same kindergarten where I began my career as a volunteer, where I work to this day.The fact that not only the children in kindergarten are visually impaired but also the kindergarten teacher creates a unique connection with the children and their families. There’s something empowering and empowering for them to see the way I’ve been through.
My husband, Anders, I knew through good company.At first I didn’t mention my visual impairment, but at the end of our first session I said everything directly: that I was visually impaired and that it might not be appropriate, so we’d better finish it before a serious relationship begins. Anders stopped me and told me to calm down, let him decide for himself if it suited him, and that he wanted to try.
In retrospect, it is clear to both of us that he did not fully understand what the disability was and what challenges it invited. It wasn’t until we started dating more frequently that things started to float and he understood what we were dealing with together – that I didn’t see anything around me, that I was getting lost a lot, and so on. However, my husband never had a problem with me getting visually impaired. He supports me, helps me with everything I need, pushes me and believes in me.
The most sensitive issue for me is the combination of visual heaviness and parenting. I do everything about childcare, just up close. The big challenge is dealing with open and large places like the beach and the mall. I can’t go to the park with the kids and just let them go, because I can’t see and watch them the way I’d like them. For the first few years, I would dress them in bright colors, so they would be easier for me to discern. Anyway, I taught the kids to know how to ask for help, to remember the address at home and my phone, so if god forbid something happens – they know how to manage.
One of the hardest things for me is the way people allow themselves to speak to me in front of my children, in response to my conduct in the space. It happens every day, it’s part of the routine: I can, for example, sit on a train and correspond on the phone, and since I cling to the screen to be able to read, I take notes every time – “You’re too close to the phone,” “Why are you looking so closely?”, And more pearls. Even when I shop I take a closer look at the tact to see what the price is and people around me get scared and think I’m going to steal. It puts me in a very awkward and disrespectful position around the children and it’s very difficult for me, because I don’t want the children to be embarrassed or feel burdened by my disability.
5:00: Gets up, goes for a walk or a run.
6:00: Returns from running, showers and organizes, wakes the children up and prepares food for them for the rest of the day. At this most important time for me, to start the day properly, is to sit for 15 minutes with my husband Anders, when I drink mata and he drinks coffee. It’s important for me to keep our spies at the beginning of the day together.
7:00 A.M.: Leaves the house towards the garden and catches a bus for a 45-minute drive to the other side of the city. I love coming to work early, talking to the staff and getting the kids and parents.
8:00-14:00: Kindergarten Work Day – Morning Session, Breakfast, Activities, Individual Works, Vision Work, Sensory Work, Experiences, Lunch and The Layer.
15:00-18:30: Coming home, drinking chocolate and cookies with the children when they come back from the frames, and when they don’t have classes, we play together and do activities until the evening. It’s important for me to invest in children and spend quality time with them.
6:30 p.m.: Showers begin and a hot dinner is prepared. We sit the whole family to eat, and during the meal everyone shares how the day went, what were the good things that happened to him and what the lesser things were. I believe it is important to share with the children, so that they know and understand the daily reality of their parents, and to internalized that they can share and not keep things in their stomachs. Once a week we make the whole family a pampering night, order food from outside and watch TV together.
8:30 p.m.: We put the kids to bed, and then Anders and I sit down for coffee with something sweet to close the day.
21:00: Arranges and organizes the house.
24:00: Going to bed.
From moment to moment//
We live once and we have to try and get as much done as possible. Even if there are certain challenges and difficulties, if there is a will – there is no limit to what can be done. I feel privileged to give strength to the amazing families in the garden, and to set an example for them that one can live with a visual impairment – and even live well.