Blind Students Navigate Harvard Bureaucracy

Contributing Writer

Sitting in her seventh-grade classroom nearly a decade ago, Emily K.
Crockett ’08-’10 blinked, just as she did thousands of times a day.

But when Crockett reopened her eyes, the paper in front of her was blurry
and she could not see her teacher, the results of the development of a
cyst within a brain tumor. She was declared legally blind two years later.

“I went from fully sighted to blind in the blink of an eye,” said
Crockett, who is currently taking the semester off and plans to return in
the spring.

Helen M. Stevens ’11 loves NASCAR.

“It’s an odd sport to watch in the northeast,” said the
Pennsylvania native.

Born with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a genetic disease that prevented her
eyes from fully developing, Stevens has some vision, though not enough to
distinguish the cars as they circle the track.

A yellow Labrador Retriever leads Sally J. Kiebdaj ’09 around the
House dining hall. The dog sits silently below the table as Kiebdaj eats

Kiebdaj said she lost her sight legally when she was about 5 years old.
Surgery on the cataracts she was born with led to glaucoma, and her eyes
developed scar tissue. She can still make out shapes and movement, but is
unable to read.

Crockett, Stevens, and Kiebdaj each faced arduous paths to make it to
Harvard, but once here, their challenges hardly ceased. The three praise
the University for providing technology services, but said the University
is often unresponsive to their needs.

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