Making a difference | Speech instructor Marcie Robinson tells her story

Gentry Anderson | The Ranger

Written by | Mikaela Chavez |

There is one speech communication in- structor who sticks out at Amarillo College. Marcie Robinson has been a student at AC as well as holding many jobs at the college. She has worked at AC for 16 years and started in the speech department in 2013.

“I lost my vision in 2005,” she said. “I had an infection and then a retina detachment, and I was told by doctors that the question was not if I would lose my vision, because they knew I would, the question was when. I have spent my entire adult life at AC, and I have had the best experiences as a student. The people at AC are amazing.”

Robinson said AC gives you a good foundation, and she is proud of that. “When my husband was driving me to the doctor’s office I couldn’t see, and I was just thinking to myself, ‘OK, this is it, this is what they told me was going to happen, and this is the time,’ but even being prepared for it to happen, I still could not overcome it. It was a very hard and trying time. I felt like I couldn’t take care of myself, and the self pity of ‘why me’ had set in. I am completely blind.

“When I first lost my vision, I was frustrated and hard- headed. I didn’t want any help. I didn’t want to feel like a bur- den on anyone, and I very much wanted to be independent. I didn’t do the things I was sup- posed to at the beginning. It was a huge thing to happen in my life, and now it’s a huge part of my life and who I am.I had to learn a lot of things, not only about my disability, but about myself in the process. Change can happen at any time, and
I had to learn that in order to become a better me and who I want to be. I was going to have to change and adapt to my dis- ability.”
Robinson worked with her husband, Dale Robinson, at the KACV television station at AC, and they were a close pair.

“My husband got sick and was diagnosed with brain cancer,” she said. “He died the summer of 2013. It was another life-changing moment for me. My husband and I were so close working together and everything. I loved that job, but I could not see myself wanting to continue it without him.”
aposition was open in the speech department at the time, and she was able to
transfer into that position.

“I love teaching, but I want to say that it kind of chose me,” she said. “It happened at a time in my life that I really needed it, and it was like a door that was opened up for me. It found me. “It’s funny how life takes you in many directions, but I think everyone eventually ends up where they need to be no matter what way they got there.” Robinson said overcoming the various obstacles she faces with her disability has been a difficult road. “I don’t want to say I am completely over it, because I’m not,” she said. “I still have days that I get upset and I get down about it, but teaching has helped me.
“It is encouraging to be a teacher with a disability and to show other people that they can make it in life no matter the obstacle and no matter who you are.” Robinson said being blind is not the worst thing in the world. “I was told two things that I think of often that help me through some tough days,” she said. “One is ‘You teach people how to treat blind people.’ I liked that. I like that I can be someone who is blind and do everything someone else who isn’t can. It teaches you that there are no limits.

“In me learning that, I also can teach others not to limit me. e second is ‘You have to do the best you can with the gifts you have been given.’ You have to try, and that’s the hardest part. You figure it out as you go through life and you adapt. Some days are better than others, and it is like that for everybody.

“Sometimes I get frustrated and think that I am not an effective teacher. I have a tough time because I wonder if I’m not doing enough for the students because I can’t see, or is there something I am missing nonverbally.
“What helps me get through those days is my amazing co- workers. All of them in the speech department help me get through those days and better myself.”
Robinson said she also has fantastic students who help her.

“At the beginning of the semester, I lay it out for them,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Here is the deal: I can’t see; it’s obvious.’ If I ask a question, I can’t see you raise your hand, so I ask them to state their name and then tell me what they need to say.
“They help me pass out papers and different things like that as well. I think that it is good for them to learn in different ways.
“I do joke around with them and have fun about my disability, because I feel that it helps them realize that I am just like them, just without the ability to see.”

People sometimes avoid those who have disabilities or are different from them. “Society has always been that way,”Robinson said.“Having a different perspective and understanding can change the world. Speech and being a communicator has helped me not only to understand people better, but also to help them understand me.” Robinson said people sometimes do not want to talk to her.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” she said. “If I am standing by some- one, they will ask whoever I am with a question that is meant for me, or leave me out of the conversation all together. I just don’t want to be avoided.” Robinson said a little bit of patience and openness can go a long way.
“As a student with a disability, my advice would be to definitely go and visit with the disAbility Services Center. Figure out what accommodations you need.

“Just because you need accommodations does not make you less. It does not make you not as smart; it just gives you the same opportunities as people who don’t have disabilities. “Do not think that you can do things without the accommodations. They are there to help you succeed, so use them and learn the tools that are go- ing to help you be independent and successful.”

Robinson has not yet en- countered a situation where she would have to change how she works or how she teaches, but she said she is sure that day will come. When it does, she will be prepared, and if she is not, she will know who to ask. Marcie Robinson not only teaches at Amarillo College, but out in the world in the lives she encounters every day.

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