Man hides blindness to work as a teacher

Man hides blindness to work as a teacher

Volkan Kalkan ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Man hides blindness to work as a teacher

Turan Delimehmetoğlu is currently employed by Gazi University in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo

The success of a visually-impaired Turk working as a teacher in Germany has inspired his peers back in his home country. Turan Delimehmetoğlu, who is currently employed by Gazi University in Ankara, once worked as a school teacher in Germany for five years by hiding his visual impairment. “I only wanted to prove that when a visually-impaired person is provided with the right type of education, he can do as well as his non-handicapped peers,” Delimehmetoğlu said.

Delimehmetoğlu’s left eye is capable of light reception, while his right has just 1 percent of sight capacity. However, he possesses two reports claiming he has a visual impairment of 100 percent issued from both Germany and Turkey.

He kept his handicap a secret and continued working as a school teacher for five years. He received honors from Nürnberg Education Attaché for his success. German officials later learned of his condition only after he decided to return to Turkey.

Gap in special education
“I decided to return to my country some seven or eight months ago because I noticed there was a great gap in the area of special education there. My German and Turkish friends in Germany both wanted me to continue staying in Germany, but I could not continue pretending to be someone I was not, not for a lifetime. So, I told them the truth.”

Delimehmetoğlu said he had a 30 hour a week teaching schedule, teaching classes in Turkish culture, mathematics, self-defense and German. He would prepare his classes’ lesson plans the day before and teach the class via projection devices.

 “Sometimes I regret coming back. In retrospect, I can say I achieved a great deal despite my handicap and there are around one million people in Turkey with my condition, who have a remnant of sight but are systematically converted to total blindness despite their capabilities. When I came back I wanted to make my story heard so that it may inspire my peers, but the first reaction was the opening of a file against me. Luckily, because my employer was the German state, the lawsuit yielded no results.”

Although the work load is not light in Germany and weekly schedules can be very tight, teachers in Germany have a higher status compared to their Turkish peer and are paid considerably better, according to Delimehmetoğlu.

Delimehmetoğlu said he never intended to fool people but that all he wanted was to show that a handicapped person could accomplish many things.

“My point is, if given the correct type of education, a visually-impaired person can perform as great as any other person can. I was not allowed to have two masters degree at one time. Whenever you come up with an innovative idea, you face bureaucratic barriers here. Those barriers are only in our minds. This is what I want to show everyone,” he said.