Student Places High Expectations on Himself
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Oct. 17, 2013 – Daniel Martinez, a
senior education major at The
University of Texas at Brownsville, has some strong
feelings about expectations of students: Expectations need to be set high.
credits two of his teachers at Vermillion Elementary School – Grace Olivo, a
teacher of blind students, and Charlotte Smith, an orientation and mobility
instructor – for making a profound impact on his life. The teachers were
confident that a lot of hard work and training would empower Daniel to do well
in school after he had an accident on a four-wheeler, causing his blindness.
was 11 years old, in fifth grade, had been an ESL student, not a very good
student, and I had been held back one year,” Martinez said. “But Ms. Olivo and
Ms. Smith were behind me and pushed me and did not lower their expectations of
me, and that’s what got me started on this path.”
teachers continued to encourage Martinez, urging him onward in his recovery; by
the time he was a junior at Rivera High School, he was taking advanced
[Brownsville Independent School District] was very supportive of me; and once I
saw there was a possibility, I became determined to come to UTB,” said
Martinez, the only one of four siblings who has continued their education past
will be participating in “In Our Shoes,” a panel discussion hosted by
the UTB Office of
from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Salon Cassia (Main 2.402) on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
“In Our Shoes” is one of several events being held on campus during Accessibility
has abilities, but many have disabilities too,” said Steve Wilder, Director for
the Office of Disability Services. “The purpose of UTB’s thirteenth annual
Accessibility Awareness Week programming is to remind the campus community of
our shared responsibility to create an inviting and accessible environment for
graduated from Rivera High School in 2009 and will complete his Bachelor of
Arts in K-12 Special Education in December 2014. He intends to continue
directly to achieve his Masters of Arts in Teaching Special Education to the
Visually Impaired. At the top of Martinez’ list of schools with this
specialization is Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana.
like Louisiana Tech’s philosophy,” Martinez said. “At Louisiana Tech, they are
more welcoming to blind students in the graduate program, and the program
expectations are high for all the students. Also, the school follows the
National Federation of the Blind’s philosophy, and I’m an active member of the
said technology has come a long way, providing faster and more complete access
to educational materials through adaptive technology for the visually impaired.
One of the main tools he uses for his studies and to communicate via email is JAWS, a screen
reader that allows the user to navigate web pages and hear the content. Also,
at the beginning of each semester, he orders his textbooks from Learning Ally, in “book reader” format on USB drives.
When a book or journal article is not available from Learning Ally, Disability
Services can convert the written text into an audio or text file using a
scanner and OCR (optical character recognition) program.
have had trouble with Blackboard, that’s been a hassle in several ways,”
Martinez said. “For one thing, I haven’t been able to participate directly in
the classroom online forums; also, testing has been problematic at times. But,
my professors are accommodating and we are working around these issues.”
teach them braille, but that’s not all – we mentor the children and teens, and
we help them overcome their obstacles and help them learn ways to be
productive,” he said.
past summer, Martinez participated in two BELL programs; one in Houston, hosted
by the local chapter, and another in McAllen, hosted by the RGV Chapter.
children from Brownsville participated in the McAllen program,” Martinez said.
“They rode in the car with my mother and me, and they didn’t mind the one-hour
drive at all – they loved the program and they seem to be ready to participate
again next summer.”
Awareness Week Events
a panelist on the upcoming “In Our Shoes” forum, Martinez will
join other students with disabilities in sharing some of their life experiences
and strategies for success. The other panelists will include students with
learning, health and hearing impairments as well as a veteran with PTSD. Dr.
William “Bill” Davis, Master Technical Instructor in the Department of
Behavioral Sciences, will serve as the moderator of the panel discussion, 12:15
to 1 p.m. in Salon Cassia (Main 2.402) on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Accessibility Awareness Fair will be held the following day from 10:30 a.m. to
1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the Main courtyard. Students, faculty
and staff are encouraged to stop by the fair to actively “experience” dyslexia
and visual impairments, make a sign language souvenir, learn some basic signs,
feel their name in braille, and witness the technology that helps Martinez and
others study and learn.
off the week, the Texas Latino Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will
sponsor the premiere of the feature-length film “Lake Windfall” to be shown
from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 in Sabal Hall 1.108 (formerly
UBCB). “Lake Windfall,” with an all-deaf cast, is a story about a fun getaway
camping trip that turns into an apocalyptic event, forcing the campers to focus
on their survival. Captioning will be provided for those not familiar with ASL
[American Sign Language]. Admission will be $10 at the door.