Blind UC Davis student lobbies White House, Congress for audio textbooks

Hoby Wedler
Hoby Wedler
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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A University of California, Davis student is in Washington this week to lobby for recorded books for people with sight and reading problems. The lobbyist speaks from experience: he made it to graduate school using audio textbooks.

Hoby Wedler of Petaluma is working on his PhD in chemistry. He's totally blind.

No matter. Wedler says he’s visualized where things are in space his whole life.

"The reason I like organic chemistry so much," he says, "is because I use the same skill I use to figure out where tables are in here, where desks are in a classroom, how to get around my college town or my hometown. And I said that’s very similar to thinking about where electrons are in a benzene ring."

Wedler and five other students from around the country are meeting with members of Congress and White House staff this week to lobby for others with vision or learning disabilities. They also met with parents of visually challenged children to talk about how to better assist schools identify and help students like them.