Elana Regan: Seeing Things Differently


Elana Regan goes through high school differently than all of her peers. She began to lose her sight in fourth grade, and has become legally blind since. “It’s not the main thing that defines me. It’s a part of my personality but it’s not the whole thing.” Regan said.

Since fourth grade, junior Elana Regan has had to go through high school differently than all of her peers due to her vision loss.

Regan lives with Stargardt’s Disease, which affects her vision negatively over time.

“My vision is just very blurry. I don’t present as a normal person with Stargardt’s does, which is macular degeneration. Some people describe it as a blind spot.” Regan said.

She is legally blind, with her vision being 20/500, in comparison to normal sight being 20/20.

In school, Regan has many things that aid her in learning without her sight.

“I take a Braille class, but it’s not just Braille, it’s a lot of braille and assistive technology. I use a screen reader called JAWS, which reads what’s on my screen and what I’m writing. I also have a Braille computer, and I’m learning how to do math on that.” Regan said.

Regan has many adaptations to help her get by in a seeing world.

“There’s yellow tape around the school on the stairs for me, so I know that the stairs are starting and how many there are. In the middle school, they had yellow tape also on the bubblers that stick out, so I didn’t walk into those. ”

Regan has classwork “translated” into methods that she can work with.

“I use large print in math and tactile diagrams. I have a vision teacher who makes all the content accessible for me.”

Even while not being able to see as well as her peers, Regan manages to participate in many activities.

“I’m in the Drama club, both the musicals and plays. I love to sing, and I’m in Noteworthy.”

Not being able to see has made Regan adapt to new ways to learn things.

Elana Regan practices her music during a rehearsal of Pirates of Penzance. She learned the music without reading it, as she cannot see the pages very well. “I learn by ear a lot. Since I am fairly musical, I’ve kind of learned to adapt to that.” Regan said.

“I learn music by ear a lot, since I am fairly musical. But learning the dance moves is the worst thing for me. I’m not very coordinated, and I also can’t really tell what they’re doing, so sometimes I do it with the left foot instead of the right foot.” Regan said.

It’s not just the work in class that is different for Regan, sometimes the people in class approach her with questions regarding her vision.

“Some of the students are more curious, they ask questions about it, and I’m very open to answering the questions. It’s something they probably haven’t seen before, they’re just curious.”

Sometimes Regan gets asked some rather interesting questions.

“‘Do you know sign language?’ ‘Does the stick tell you where you need to go?’ They think it’s kind of like a GPS. Those are the two main dumb things that people just don’t understand.” Regan said.

Transitioning from being able to see to going blind is not easy. Especially in school, Regan said that being outwardly different is the hardest part.

“Like getting really big print, using the cane, and doing different things that really set me apart from the crowd.”