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Sight-challenged student and her dog work together

By Stephen Arringdale

Its a normal day for OTC student Amber Attaway. She carries the same hopes, desires and ambitions as her classmates to do well in her classes.

There is one difference. Amber has been blind from birth and she is accompanied at the OTC Springfield campus with her service animal Macie, a quiet, black and white dog.

They enter the room as a team and Macie walks straight to the desk she knows will be her spot for the next hour. Once there, Macie curls up beneath the desk and barely stirs. Amber opens her laptop and prepares for the lesson on Power Point.

Among the accommodations that allow Amber to read the computer presentation is a screen reader designed for the blind. It converts the text that sighted people read into spoken words. The device is available through OTCs Disability Support Services office where she is among about 1,000 students who receive assistance.

Amber is passionate about her beliefs in how people think of the disabled.

“Sometimes people ask me a lot of things but then they never talk to me again. That hurts, but not as much as being ignored,” she said. “The main thing is to ask and get to know me.”

Her other passion is her companion and her best friend, Macie. Amber trained with Macie for four weeks in Michigan before they graduated as a team. She describes the training as one of her most fulfilling and challenging experiences in her life.

It can be easy to miss the interaction between Amber and Macie but there is mutual communication. In some situations, Amber guides Macie. In other areas, Macie will come to a stop if she sees a danger that Amber does not. Macie is a well-trained service animal, but there is also a loyalty and bond between Macie and Amber that is impossible to miss.

While service dogs are dedicated and serious, they also like to play. Macie has the energy and playfulness of a puppy, but she never forgets her job. Even while playing, Macie pauses every moment or so to look back at Amber to ensure all is well.

Ambers focus is on pursuing her psychology degree and she’s happy to beat OTC,

“I don’t regret coming here at all and only wish the school ran a four year program,” she said.

Stephen Arringdale is a journalism student at Ozarks Technical Community College.


Mark Miller

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Media Relations

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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