As a statewide resource center, The Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) provides outreach, educational and residential services for students to reach their fullest potential by preparing them to be as successful, independent and well-rounded contributing members of their communities as possible.
MSB, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit private school, currently serves 56% of the 1,700 students identified as blind or visually impaired throughout all 24 Maryland jurisdictions. Through on campus and outreach programs, as well as the Maryland Instructional Resource Center, MSB provides quality educational programs for individuals from infancy to age 21. Approximately 95% of the 200 students served in the day school and residential programs have intellectual, sensory, behavioral, and physical disabilities as well as health challenges in addition to their visual impairment. Since 1853, MSB has offered individualized programs to meet these special needs.
We treat our students with “Tenderness for who they are and respect for what they can become,” (adapted from a quote by Louis Pasteur). Our goal is for our students to “SOAR” and it is also an acronym for goals centered around student independence.
“S” is for self-determination and self-advocacy. It is a reminder to our staff as well as our students of the importance of offering students choices so they will be motivated to set their own goals for themselves. At the same time, we want them to know how to ask for what they need. It is essential that our students are “Doers” not “done to-ers” in doing daily tasks with as little staff assistance as possible.
“O” is for orientation and mobility. Knowing where you are and how to get where you want to go safely, efficiently, and independently are important skills to be sharpened and honed as early as possible. Once mastered, students develop the confidence to explore their world. Students should travel on their own accord without unnecessary physical and verbal prompts.
“A” is for activities of daily living. We are preparing young adults who will be making their own way in the world. By developing good personal hygiene habits, such as grooming, dressing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other talents using techniques that make the best use of their capabilities, we are readying them for their lives as adults. Our students will not take MSB staff with them when they graduate, so it is essential that staff assistance fades and students do more for themselves.
“R” stands for respect for independence. Treating students with respect for their independence means not doing things for them that they should or can do for themselves. It means refraining from leading, or using sighted guide when unnecessary. It means allowing students the time to find their own way even if it takes more time. It means waiting for students to make choices, rather than choosing for them merely because it is easier, more convenient or quicker.