Inclusive Schools Week: Ticchi shares experience as first blind teacher in State

The Newtonite

by Jay Feinstein

“Sighted people no longer have a monopoly on teaching,” said career and technical education outreach coordinator David Ticchi, who presented in the auditorium G-block yesterday on the discrimination he faced as a blind teacher.

“Blind people can teach, too.”

According to Ticchi, in order to receive a teaching certificate, prospective teachers used to have to take an eye-test similar to the one that prospective drivers have to take to receive a license.

Due to the National Federation of the Blind’s influence, the rules were changed and, on December 17, 1969, Ticchi became the first blind person to be a certified teacher in Massachusetts. “Maybe even the United States,” he added.

He faced discrimination when applying for jobs, though. “I applied to teach at so many schools, and I had hundreds reject me. “I did well academically and had a masters and doctorate from Harvard, but people are skeptical that you can teach if you’re blind.”

In 1971, Ticchi received a job teaching English at F.A. Day. “I couldn’t teach like sighted teachers, but it worked,” he said. “Students couldn’t raise their hands, and I couldn’t write on the board, but we were able to work it out with a different student at the board every day. We were a team.”

According to Ticchi, the biggest obstacle that he and other blind people face is not that he cannot see. “The biggest problem I face is attitudes,” he said. “I can find a way of doing things without seeing, but attitudes can deny us of opportunities, including social, academic and employment.”

“Inclusive Week is all about giving people opportunities and giving people chances,” he said. “It reminds me of Rachel’s Challenge, where they told everyone to look for the good in others. I believe that everyone has a gift, and everyone should have the opportunities to follow his dreams.”