The Freedom to Live Life to its Fullest
“Your life doesn’t have to be over just because you’re blind.” ~Pearl, Society for the Blind Client
One of the most rewarding experiences at Society for the Blind is getting to witness the newly found independence of our clients. Most arrive at Society unsure of what their future will bring. Careers have been put on hold, college plans upended. These independent, active people now find themselves facing one of the most daunting challenges of their lives.
During this month where we celebrate our nation’s independence, we here at Society for the Blind celebrate our clients and all of the people living with blindness and low vision who bravely step into the unknown, learn new skills and show us all that life is about more than what you see. I want to share with you the experiences of Karon, Pearl, Angela and Paul, who embraced their vision loss and learned how to rebuild their lives and regain their independence.
Karon had a 30-year career with Northwest Airlines. She lost her vision due to complications from a stroke. After completing classes at Society, Karon became a volunteer teaching assistant for our independent living skills classes. “I’ve gained my independence being here, and I know that I can do anything I put my mind to with the right training. I’m very grateful that I’m able to do what I do. It warms my heart to help other people through this process.”
Pearl was diagnosed in 1991 with panuveitis, an inflammation in the eye that causes pain and blurred vision. She continued to work and maintain the family household until 2015, when she lost her remaining vision. “I realized that before my experience of losing my eyesight, I was dependent on it – even distracted by it. Now I get to rely on all of these other senses: hearing, touch, smell and taste. People forget that just because I lack my eyesight doesn’t mean I lack vision.”
Angela was living in Oakland and was a very successful tournament pool player when she lost her vision to glaucoma. It was a devastating experience that turned her world upside down. She moved to Sacramento, participated in our Senior IMPACT Project retreat and today is a mentor in that program. “I realized that I needed to face this and be appreciative of the help I have. So I changed my attitude, and Society for the Blind gave me my life back. They showed me I could still be independent.”
Paul started losing his vision at age 16 from Leber’s, a hereditary eye disease. He was an outstanding athlete, but with his vision loss, he had to give up on a college athletic scholarship. Paul completed classes at Society for the Blind and started volunteering in our Assistive Technology classes. During this time he received his certification as an Assistive Technology instructor and joined our teaching staff in 2015. “I like seeing people able to do things they couldn’t do before. Technology is so great right now for blind people. There’s a lot out there to help people have new experiences – and to give them hope that they can do anything.”
I am proud to announce that Paul was promoted earlier this year to Manager of our Core teaching program. Paul, Karon, Pearl and Angela are voices of independence that inspire all of us to ensure our clients discover, develop and achieve their full potential.
I hope you and your loved ones had a happy Fourth of July and will join us in continuing to celebrate independence all month long!