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Seeing with his fingers

Why crossing the border?

'My study has an international accent. Before I came here, I went to Germany and Great Britain. My school in France has contacts with Avans, so now I’m here.  A lot of people with a disability like me, don’t work. I don’t want to be like them. I need a little bit more time to learn things and to get the structure of things in my head. Further, I can live and work everywhere.’

How can you find your way here?

‘With a little help from others, I can do a lot. I always walk from my room to school. It takes me twenty minutes, but I don’t mind. When I’m at school, I always ask someone to bring me to a special point. From there I can find my way. The Avans building is very complex. Xplora is a real labyrint. I need help to find my way there, because I can’t get the structure in my head this fast. It is also not very handy for me that we’re always in a different classroom. In France I have lessons in only two classrooms. I know exactly where to go.' 

Do teachers have to adapt their lessons?

‘Teachers must do a little bit more if they have me in their class. They have to hand in the lessons electronically, so that my laptop can read the text. I can’t do anything with models. Everything has to be written out. This takes time and I also have to do oral exams.’

Are you blind for all your life?

‘When I was fifteen, my sight went slowly backwards. Unfortunately glasses were not suited for my deviation. When I’m sitting in front of someone, I see only vague outlines. I have to concentrate well on other indicators. My hearing and sense of smell are very sensitive, but my fingers are the most important. I see with them and serve my braille machine with them. I really can’t do without.’

What do you think of the Netherlands?

‘For me it is approximately the same as in France. The climate is about the same, but nevertheless I notice small cultural differences. For example, if I go to the bakery, I can choose a lot of different types of bread. In France there’s simply one type. Here are also several taxi services and at home there is only one.’

How do you see your future?

‘I definitely want to find a job in France. That’s easier for me. I have gained international experience. So it doesn’t have to be more difficult for me to find a job then for people without restriction. I’ve shown that, with some adaptations, I can do everything.’ [MK]

You can find the Dutch version of this interview in Punt 5. From 4th of December, you can find the paper in  the boxes.

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