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Nearly-Blind Youth's Greatest Thrill Comes When He Enters High School

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He Learns By Ear

Gerald Lutz, 19, (left), who has only 20 per cent of normal vision, and uses a white cane to get around, learns some of his lessons at Ann Arbor High School by listening to wire recordings. He takes notes with a Braille slate. The wire recorder has been furnished him by the Ann Arbor Lions Club, sponsors of White Cane Week-this week. Prof. Raymond L. Garner (right), Lions blind committee chairman, recorded Jerry’s history book. Jerry can then do his homework by listening to records.

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It’s White Cane Week:

Nearly-Blind Youth’s Greatest Thrill Comes When He Enters High School

Being accepted as a student at 'Ann Arbor High School this year was for Gerald Lutz, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Lutz of 252 Crest Ave., the biggest thrill of his life.

It was a thrill because Jerry, while not entirely blind, has only 20 per cent of normal vision and this is the first time he has been accepted in a regular school with normal youths.

He began his schooling at the Horace H. Rackham School of Special Education in Ypsilanti in 1940. He transferred to the Michigan School for the Blind at Lansing in 1942 and remained there until 1953.

“It seems good to be home after I 11 years away from home, except, for weekends,” he said.

Last fall, Jerry was admitted to Ann Arbor High on a trial basis. And he has more than fulfilled what is expected of normal students.

He has been on the honor roll: both semesters as well as serving as a Student Council member, a member of the assembly committee, in Hi-Y Club, and during the first semester was also in the Junior Red Cross.

Jerry is assisted in his studies, by some special equipment and training. The Lions Club, through its committee for the blind, has furnished him a wire recorder. Prof. Raymond L. Garner, committee chairman, has recorded Jerry’s history book.

Jerry can play the recordings for study and review. Besides American history, he is studying biology, speech and everyday law this semester. He is limited in biology to book work -- no laboratory work.

He goes to class, getting abound school, as well as around the city, with the help of a white cane. He can distinguish the figures of persons standing close to him and even the colors of their clothes.

Makes Braille Notes

He takes notes in class using braille. That is done with a metal device into which paper is slipped. The device or “slate” has rows of stencil-like openings. A stylus is used to punch the paper, the placement of the punches in each opening forming the letter.

Removing the paper from the slate, George reads his notes by passing his fingers over the punched paper. He has both a pocket size and notebook-size “slate.”

He takes tests on a typewriter (using the touch system), with the assistance of someone who reads him the questions. If it is a “fill-in” test, the reader reads the question, Jerry tells him his answer, which the assistant writes down.

Jerry is able to borrow books for English reports and other reading from the Wayne county depository for "talking” books. The books are recorded on long playing (38 rpm) records with United States government funds.

Jerry’s vision defect was discovered when he was six months old and was said to be due to a lack of calcium in his diet. (His two sisters and brother have normal vision.)

Saw 18 Doctors

He was taken to 18 doctors through the years, finally undergoing operations to remove cataracts. Five years ago he had only 10 per cent of normal vision, in comparison to 20 per cent today.

Jerry is lavish in his praise of his parents, doctors, teachers at Rackham, the school for the blind and at Ann Arbor High, Principal Nicholas Schreiber, and the Lions Club for their efforts to understand and help him.

He is grateful to his teachers or “their unfailing efforts to understand and help.” He credits the Lions Club and Prof. Garner with helping make Ann Arbor High School “easy for me.”

Most important of all to Jerry, however, is faith in God. “I had to have faith, I’ve gone through so much. I hope to go into the ministry. There’s a need for minsters in this world.”

Plans Revealed

He hopes to graduate from Ann Arbor High next year and then enter Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill. Meanwhile, he’s teaching a Sunday School class of 12-year-olds at Bethlehem Evangelical and Reformed Church.

As far as Jerry’s concerned, “You have to work, no matter what your handicap.” He has little sympathy for those who feel sorry for themselves.

He hopes others will find in his successful efforts in getting along a challenge.