Blind students get sound cues to help them haul in the goods at ASDB
Not much can stop a kid from enjoying an Easter egg hunt. Not even being blind.
Stephanie Dyke, 16, a sophomore at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, can attest to that.
She was one of more than 30 students who participated in Wednesday’s annual Easter egg hunt. Now in its third year at the school at 1200 W. Speedway Blvd., the hunt came complete with electronic eggs that beeped for the blind, a group of smaller, nonbeeping eggs for the deaf and a host of volunteers who brought firetrucks and a guide dog.
Oh, yes, the Easter bunny showed up, too.
While Dyke was not new to Easter egg hunts, this was the first time she heard of the beeping eggs.
“I’ve always done Easter egg hunts with my family,” Dyke said, “but they always put the eggs in really obvious places where I could find them.” She said finding an egg perched atop a fence post is nary a challenge. “This is the first time I’m doing one geared toward the blind.”
The beeping egg was hatched about 30 years ago by the Qwest Pioneers, a group of retired and active Qwest Communications employees. The hunts began in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have since spread out to 14 states.
“Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces is the best part of it,” said Qwest’s Arizona president, Jim Campbell. “It gives kids a chance to experience something kids with disabilities may not get to experience.”
Campbell said the electronic eggs have undergone updates in the past three decades, but they still use a simple 9-volt battery and they are still held together with a big, plastic screw that’s usually used as part of a toilet setup.
That didn’t stop the students from eagerly gathering them. Eighth-grader Paige Segura, 14, ended up with five. While she didn’t have much to say about the hunt, she did agree it was a fun event. And she obviously was good at it.
Deaf kids got in on the fun, too, although some received hurried hand signals and sign language to put down the beeping eggs and gather the smaller ones instead.
All traded them in for plentiful baskets, toys and treats.
The kids weren’t the only ones having fun.
“Like everybody else, I’m here to see the Easter Bunny,” said Maureen Luikart, who has become an event regular with her guide dog, Rain. Rain serves as the ears for Luikart and her hard-of-hearing husband.
“It’s great to see the children so happy,” Luikart said. “It’s a wonderful way to inform the public about disabilities, to show that compassion is really important.”
Tucson Fire Department paramedic Scott Fleck said the event also puts things into perspective.
“It shows how lucky we are and gives us the opportunity to share things with the children,” Fleck said. “It’s amazing to see how excited they are.”
Tucson fire Capt. Lupe Leon said that this may be the first time for some of the kids to see a firetruck up close.
In addition to enjoying the egg hunting event, Dyke said attending the school for the past three years has benefited her greatly.
“This is so much easier than being in public school,” she said. “In public school they have computer programs that can read everything on the screen and stuff but they pull you out of class to go learn how to use them. Here, you are not losing time from being pulled out of class.”
Besides, other schools don’t come with beeping eggs. “Easter may not be my favorite holiday,” Dyke said, “but it’s up there.”