By Lenore Sobota
NORMAL, Ill. (AP) – When one of Cary Supalo’s students says a chemistry problem is too difficult, he has a standard reply that usually stops them cold.
“My being the blind guy,” he tells them, “if I can do that, you can do it, too.”
Supalo is an assistant professor at Illinois State University who has an Indiana-based business that sells adaptive equipment for the blind or visually impaired.
While in Pennsylvania, he served on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Blind. He recently was appointed to the Normal Human Relations Commission.
“I believe in a can-do attitude,” said Supalo, who lost his sight at age 7 to a rare genetic condition called FEVR, Familial Exudative Vitreo-Retinopathy.
The Bolingbrook native started his job at ISU last semester. His courses include general chemistry and a general principles class. He also is a lab instructor and works with student teachers.
John Bauer, chairman of the chemistry department, said he’s received mostly positive feedback about Supalo while acknowledging “it’s an adjustment for everybody.”
Students with a problem have to describe, rather than show, what they are doing. But those students have indicated that can be positive because it makes them think about what they are doing, said Bauer.
One of those students his freshman Andrew Winfield, a bio-chemistry major who is in Supalo’s “Research in Chemistry” course.
Winfield was somewhat surprised when he found out he had a professor who is blind but said, “After a while, you barely notice at all.”
Winfield said on the first day of his class, Supalo had each student – about 50 of them – say their name and put the names and voices together from the start.1 2 next >>