Bowling blind: Visually impaired students bowl at BYU

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Oscar Martinez, a visually impaired student from the Provo School District, prepares to bowl at the BYU bowling alley. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

He stepped up to the lane, primed and ready to hurl the ball toward the pins. An assistant lovingly approached him and guided him to the lane he was supposed to be bowling on. Again he prepared himself with his unique sideward stance. He launched the ball and, with the help of bumpers, landed a strike.

Oscar Martinez is a student in the Provo School District’s vision program. He and three other visually impaired students came to the BYU Games Center on Thursday for the their end-of-school-year party. Twice a year, usually at Christmas and at the end of the school year, visually impaired students from across the district gather to have some fun at the bowling alley.

Students are ages 3 to 22 and their impairments range from legally blind to completely blind.

Eileen Cloward is the vision specialist for the Provo School District and has been working within this field for the last 30 years. Cloward explained the vision of twin sisters who had joined them that day.

“Their vision is 20/200, which is legally blind,” Cloward said. “What we see at 200 feet away they have to get up to 20 feet.”

Many of Cloward’s students have different needs. She teaches them braille and provides for their unique struggles.

“(One of the twins) is light-sensitive so she has to wear shades when she goes outside,” Cloward said. “For some students we have to put a light on their desk to give them more light. It depends on the student.”

Of the four students who attended the party, Martinez had the worst vision. He uses a cane to help him navigate his world but you would think bowling came naturally to him.

Oscar Martinez, who is blind, bowls a strike during a game on Thursday morning. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

“I only got 94,” one twin said. “He got 104!”

Cloward’s husband was having a good time with the students, too. “Everybody is beating me! They can’t even see,” Cloward’s husband said with a smile as the kids laughed alongside him.

Vision assistant, Vallie Card, announced the winner at the end of the game.

“Oscar won! He got more than any of us. 113!” Card said.

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