Finding a New Language for Life

David Moreno wears a blue Hawaiian print shirt and khaki shorts; he's sitting on his front porch in a black chair.

David Moreno

David Moreno has been at home avidly studying Braille for the last year and a half.

“A friend of mine told me, ‘You took to Braille the way ducks take to water,’ and I just laughed,” David said.

David’s enthusiastic approach to Braille and all things related to blindness training are remarkable considering that when he first arrived at Society for the Blind, he wasn’t sure his vision loss counted as blindness. David was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, better known as RP, in 2013. Though his peripheral vision was waning, he was not declared legally blind until 2015. A few weeks later, David came to one of our Senior IMPACT Project meetings.

“I felt so out of place,” David said. “I thought, what am I doing here? Here are people truly blind, and I still can see across the street. I can’t see what’s to the side of me, but I can see fine right in front of me. I almost left, thinking I had nothing to offer. At the same time, my inner voice told me this is where I needed to be.”

When he confessed that he was legally blind but still had some vision, one of our staff members put his arm around his shoulder and said, “You’re blind, and you’re welcome here.”

“From that day on, I just really blossomed,” David said. “I realized I was part of something.”

David completed his first retreat in October 2015 and has since been through two more. He began volunteering as a mentor in the Senior IMPACT Project in early 2016 and has attended four senior mentor workshops.

“I am honored to be a mentor,” David said. “I love Society for the Blind with all my heart, and volunteering as a mentor is part of giving back to them.”

About a year before the pandemic started, David decided to learn Braille. As businesses began to shut down and Society for the Blind’s programs went online, David had a project to dive into headfirst. He’s now in the fourth level of Braille literacy, having learned the alphabet, words, numbers and punctuation and now learning contracted Braille.

“I love Braille,” David said. “Now that I’m learning contracted Braille, I just feel two letters and I know the whole word. In late afternoons or early evenings after eating my evening meal, I will get out my latest workbook and reread some of the sentences I read earlier that day.”

David said he is still surprised at how much more confidence he has now compared to 10 years ago, not just with his vision but his overall outlook on life. When David passed his third level of Braille literacy with a 99%, he was reminded how different he feels now.

“I grew up with an abusive father,” David said. “I think the damage that I received as a child overwhelmed everything else. I’ve always had trouble seeing up close. The only reason I did well in school was because I saw what happened to my brothers who came home with a grade lower than a C. Fear is a great motivator and will keep you safe but it’s not a way to learn. You need positive reinforcement and that’s what Society for the Blind gives us. You can just feel the unconditional love and support. I now feel very much balanced.”