About Us

This blog is about how the world is viewed by the visual and the visually impaired. The intent of this blog is to bring the two worlds together. It is administered by two fabulous sisters, Toni, who is sighted and Robin, who became visually impaired in 2002 at the age of 18 due to misdiagnosis.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Starlight, star bright, as I fall asleep, may I have a good dream tonight. It is a known fact that when a person enters into a deep slumber, there is a possibility that he/she will travel through dreamland. Dreams are a tool for people to break away from the realities of life, and enter into a magical land of possibilities. Throughout my life, I have had many dreams; some remaining on the scale of normal, while others have left me puzzled. Since I have lost my eyesight, my dreams have not changed in terms of them being in color with imagery. Due to the high visual nature surrounding dreams, it is hard for some sighted people to fathom how blind/visually impaired individuals can share in this experience. Within these past seven years, I have noticed that there is a common interest by sighted people on whether or not blind/visually impaired individuals have dreams. Particularly, at my field placement in graduate school, a fellow intern told me that she and her boyfriend were having a discussion pertaining to dreams. According to the intern, she and her boyfriend were wondering if blind people had dreams. The answer to this question is yes. Like everyone else, blind people do have dreams; varying in content and appearance.
According to different studies, there is a relationship between vision imagery in dreams, when a person becomes blind/visually impaired, and the extent to their blindness. Among the literature and studies, there was a consensus that people who are born blind/visually impaired or lose their sight at an early age have little to no imagery in their dreams. Whereas, people who lose their eyesight when they are older have visual imagery and memory of what things may look like. However, dreams are not solely based on visual aspects, but instead auditory, smell, touch, and taste can be a part of the experience as well. Dreams are all about one’s imagination and perceptions.
In terms of my own experience when it comes to dreams, I am not shocked at the fact that I still have them. However, what puzzles me is that in all of my dreams I still have my eyesight. Two signifiers that send the message I am sighted is first; I am able to see what is around me. In my dreams, I have vivid images of my family; old/new friends, scenery, etc. Secondly, I am not traveling with my white cane. I am not a dream interpreter, nor can I help but wonder what the meaning is behind my dreams. Who knows, it could be a sign that one day I might have the opportunity to regain my eyesight. Whatever the case may be, one thing remains to be true, I will never give up having hope or faith that one day my dreams will turn into a reality, and I will be able to see with my eyes again!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blind Photography...

Since my sister has become blind I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible on blindness/visual impairment. I've come across a lot of interesting and helpful information via the internet. One website that has really caught my attention is www.blindphotographers.org. This website displays images made by blind and visually impaired individuals. The photos are absolutely amazing. I told Robin about it and she was excited; she decided that photography was going to be her new hobby. My daughter Imani was her first subject. She told Imani to talk to her so she could follow the sound of her voice. The first couple of photos Imani's head was cut off, but she keep taking pictures and listening to the sound of Imani's voice and could tell what Imani was doing by her tone. She finally nailed it and got a good shot of Imani smiling and saved it as her screen saver on her phone. Robin's been exploring photography through sound and it is quite intriguing to see her interpretation of what she hears. It's amazing how close what I see visually is to what she hears. I was able to look at what she produced and describe it to her, but since she couldn't see it for herself I wondered what did she get out of photography. She said that it was gratification to know that she could still do something that she loved to do when she was sighted. Although it's now a little different than when she was sighted; instead of relying on sight she relies on touch, sound and smell, it's still something she enjoys. There's one photo that really stuck with me from the Blind Photographers website; it's a picture of gray bricks and in the middle of them a patch of green foliage growing with the word ADAPT above and the quote by Teddy Roosevelt "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." That was so profound. Robin has definitely taken such an abrupt change in her life and has adapted. Through this journey together we are both learning that everything is possible as long as you put forth your best effort and believe in yourself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


As human beings, our safety is a prized possession that people hold close. Our safety gives us reassurance, security, control, etc. As a result, when a person’s safety is violated, they may feel vulnerable, powerless, fearful, and angry. Our sense of safety can be violated through various forms of crime, committed by a person against another person. Once a person’s safety is violated, it is hard for them to get that sense of security they once had. Within our society, there are certain people who are vulnerable to being victims of crime over others. Such people include the disabled, women, senior citizens, and children. With this in mind, let’s keep our safety in our own hands by taking precautions to enhance our security. Listed below are various safety tips that will help limit the chances of becoming a victim of crime. The tips were gathered from various resources that include; the city of Cotati, California police, Fort Myers, Florida police, and All Walks of Life Inc. Among these three resources the following tips were given by all of them as recommendations to increase safety.
1. Be aware of and avoid situations that could put you in harms way such as; dark places and abandoned areas. It is important to be aware and in tuned to your surroundings, so that predators won’t have an opportunity to take advantage of you. Specifically, being alert to what is going on around you is crucial. Try to limit the distractions that might deter your attention. Such distractions may include, but are not limited to talking on your cell phone, texting, listening to your ipod, etc.
2. Let someone know where you are going and the approximate time you expect to be back.
3. Pay attention to your body language. Send the message that you are secure and comfortable with your surroundings. Predators can pick up on a person’s fear and vulnerability.
4. Carry security apparatus such as loud alarms, pepper spray, etc. Predators do not like anything that will draw attention by others to the situation. Loud alarms will peak curiosity by people who are in the vicinity and will enhance the chances of preventing an attack.
5. Try to change up your routine and predictability. Whenever an established schedule is developed, it is easy for a predator to know your whereabouts at specific times.
6. Become engaged in a self defense class. Not only is being alert crucial, but also knowing the proper movements to take if you find yourself in a life-threatening predicament. Self-defense classes can enable a person to feel more in control of their situation and their own body. Also, karate and judo are other ways to learn how to fight off your attackers and feel more confident. Don’t worry if you are blind/visually impaired or have some other type of challenge. There are instructors who are professionally trained and knowledgeable of meeting your own individual unique needs.

These tips are supposed to serve as mere tools to enhance your feelings of confidence and control, in terms of your physical safety. Whenever I am out in public, I try to be extremely alert, because I realize that not everyone sees with their heart; such as predators. I am currently in the process of enrolling in karate classes. Enrolling in karate classes will give me a sense of feeling secure, and lessen the fear of being a vulnerable target to others. I will keep you updated on my journey through the classes. Remember to be proactive when it comes to safety by stopping predators in their tracks. Protect yourself by taking control of the situation, and not letting the situation take control of you!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Must Read - Alive Day...

It’s been a while, but I’m back! I was asked to read a book called Alive Day and give a review. It took me a while because I really wanted to take my time and enjoy the book and not rush through it; it was really well written and filled with emotion. I recommend that you pick it up and read it for yourselves. I’m going to check and see if it’s on tape for Robin. I was telling her about it and she can’t wait to hear it! I haven’t been this excited about a book since I’ve read How People Grow by Robert Townsend and Henry Cloud. Let me tell you after I read that book it was my official “gift giving book”, it was so good I wanted to give it to everyone as a gift…so now I have two! Alive Day was so inspirational; I loved it, not only was it a touching story it gave a lot of insight on being blind.

Alive Day is a part fictional story about two individuals with completely different backgrounds becoming disabled by circumstance. Brendan a psychiatrist who is blinded after a mountain fall and his patient Antwone a Marine who becomes paralyzed in the line of duty learn valuable lessons of life from each other. This inspirational story was brilliantly written by Tom Sullivan who lost his sight as an infant and coauthored by Betty White of the Golden Girls. Alive Day is about living life to its fullest and shows that with faith and love all things are possible. There are so many aspects that this book covers; the importance of family, friendships, those serving our country, faith, misconceptions, self value, love etc. It was so beautifully written that you feel the emotions of the characters...the book was definitely a heartfelt read! The most powerful line in the book for me that I will remember forever is “Everybody in life has a disability. Some disabilities seem to be more complex or more profound than others, but everybody has the same choice: you can either live life fully or you can live it feeling sorry for yourself.” Absolutely profound.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Need For Assistance

Help seeking behavior is a natural part of life, and at one point in a person’s existence, he/she will need a lending hand. However, although a person may need assistance with a task, does not mean that they will ask for it. One possible reasoning behind this could be attributed to the fact that we live in an individualistic society, where asking for help can be hard for both sighted and blind/visually impaired people. As a part of our society, every man or woman for themselves has been ingrained into the mindsets of people. It is these mindsets that cause people to put pride before compassion. Since I have lost my eyesight, I have noticed that there is this underlying dictation on how blind/visually impaired individuals should act; particularly, when it comes to asking for help. Some people believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness and it gives way to society’s stereotypes about the disabled. On the contrary, as mentioned above, I believe asking for help is bound to happen, and there is nothing wrong with it. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I need assistance, I am not afraid to ask for it. I am an independent person, who at times does need help, along with a lot of other people. It would be remiss if I or anyone blind/visually impaired felt that assistance would not be needed at any given time. It would be callous if anyone believes that a blind/visually impaired person should wing it for themselves and not request assistance when needed and/or requested. Just because I am blind does not mean I have to be superwoman. In my opinion, sighted or blind/visually impaired, not asking for help when needed, can leave room for a person to put a lot of pressure on themselves. Look at politicians, doctors, nurses, judges, and policeman; they all need help by someone in one way or another. Just imagine, would you not want these people asking for help? In addition, Stevie Wonder, Scott Macintyre, and the late Ray Charles were not afraid to ask for help when being guided onto the stage. It is like Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. Let’s change our attitude towards giving and receiving help because what may be viewed as being dependent to one person may be the opposite for another.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Letting Go...

I must admit I am a bit overprotective of Robin; one reason being because she is my baby sister and the second because of her disability. I think back to the time when I was 18 years old and trying to gain my independence as a young adult, the last thing I wanted was my family being too involved in my life. I wanted to experience life for myself on my own. I often wonder if Robin felt stripped of that experience. Becoming blind at the age of 18 she had to become dependent on her family to help her adjust. Seeing Robin go through such a difficult time it made me want to make things as easy for her as possible. There are a lot of things that Robin can do on her own, but I'm sure there's tons more things that she could do if we let our overprotective guards down. It's very hard to let go. I realized that I may have been enabling Robin when I would pick her up from work. I would always go to the door to meet her instead of letting her walk to the car herself. Last week I picked Robin up from work, my first instinct was to go get her and guide her to the car, but then I decided to let her come to the car herself. I watched her with nervousness as she utilized her cane to find her way to the car...I couldn't help myself so I rolled down the window and said "keep coming, follow my voice. To my surprise she made it to the car without any problems. She said that she had been wanting to guide herself but was nervous that she wouldn't be able to find her way. Was her nervousness created by me being so overprotective and wanting to do everything for her instead of allowing her the chance to try? We learn through our experiences in overcoming trials, tribulations and failures. If not given the opportunity to try something we are doing an individual great disservice. Robin was so happy that she was able to conquer the fear of guiding herself and through me being overprotective I was about to stifle her confidence and growth. Although it's going to be hard, for the good of my sister I am going to have to let go and let her gain her independence. I won't be there to catch her when she falls, but I will definitely be there to pick her up and brush her off and encourage her to try again in whatever it is that life throws her way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

United We Learn...

As human beings, we live in a diverse world with people from various ethnic backgrounds, religions, abilities, ages, etc. Diversity helps people learn from others by creating awareness about different experiences and perspectives that another may have. Being around others who are different from us enables people to see the views of a situation from another's perception. With this in mind, it is how people choose to incorporate diversity into their lives that really counts. Embracing the unique differences of others can lead to a world of education, prosperity, growth, and acceptance.
It is the Lighthouse International School in New York for the blind and sighted that puts diversity into action. For those of you who may not know, the Lighthouse International School is a nonprofit child development learning center that was established in 1905. The Lighthouse International School child development learning center not only seeks to help blind/visually impaired children through the offering of education, clinical services, and advocacy, but they offer educational experiences to sighted children as well (lighthouse.org).
Out of the fifteen story building that houses the Lighthouse International School child development learning center, the third floor is the place where joint education takes place among preschoolers (lighthouse.org). Both sighted and visually impaired/blind children embrace the differences within one another through empathy. The sighted students offer a lending hand to their peers whenever needed, while the visually impaired/blind students illustrate how learning can occur on all levels. These students do not see one another as being sighted or visually impaired/blind, but instead as human beings who are their friends.
Lighthouse International Schools’ child development learning center for sighted and blind students was featured in People Magazine and on Good Morning America. I believe that Lighthouse International School helps children learn at a young age about acceptance of people from all backgrounds and abilities. I truly believe that there should be more schools like this one because every time I go to the store, I encounter stares, peculiar treatment, and awkward questions by others. The Lighthouse International School has a waiting list every year of sighted individuals trying to get into the school. It is my hope that one day people will take a lesson from the Lighthouse International School children, which is compassion for all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Comfort Zone...

Robin calls me Thursday night to ask me to go to a comedy show with her on Friday...at first I was hesitant because I know how raw some comedians can get. I remembered when my cousin told me about when she and her husband who is over weight went to the comedy show and the comedian kept picking on him. She said it was funny at first but then it got to be offensive. Robin is very sensitive and could not take that type of joking, so me being the protective sister that I am, I was praying that I wouldn't have to beat anybody's butt that night lol! Oh let me back up, before I get to the show, as stated in my previous blog, my sister kills me being a blind back seat driver lol! It was dark and raining on our way to the comedy show, and I cannot see well at night, so she's trying to direct me on how to drive, like she can really help me lol! Anyway the comedian we went to see was Donnell Rawlings aka Ashy Larry from the Dave Chappelle Show...we sat in the 3rd row...we sat down Robin folded up her cane and slid it under her seat. Here I am sitting on the end front view of the stage...so I'm not even worried about Robin anymore...I'm worried about myself getting clowned on! All of the comedians were hilarious and they did pick on some people in the front, but it was all in good fun. I just made sure I did not make any eye contact because I did not want to be the subject of anybody's jokey joke lol! We were crying laughing the entire time! We had so much fun! I was glad that we went and had gotten over the fear and assumption that someone is going to be mean or make fun of Robin, just because of a few negative experiences that we've encountered. I'm sure that even without a disability there are some things that we refuse to do or try because we have a preconceived notion of how the experience is going to be and we end up missing out on a lot in life. I was watching Joel Osteen yesterday and one thing he said really stood out to me and is so true...if you want to experience God's best you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take risk. I challenge everyone to do that one thing you've always wanted to do but haven't because either someone told you that you couldn't, you're afraid, you've had a prior negative experience or whatever else is holding you back; you may be very surprised and end up having the time of your life!

My First Comedy Show...

Excitement, yet sheer nervousness entered my body as the time approached for me to go to my first comedy show. Taking my last blog titled, “Jokes, Mockery, or Marginalization?” into consideration, I was worried that the comedians would single me out because of my obvious disability. When I entered the Comedy Works building, accompanied by my sister, we were met by a lot of people crowded in the lobby area. My sister and I met up with my friend, who invited us and some others to the show. My friend was hoping that we would be seated in the front row, while I was hoping otherwise. LOL! However, we were seated close, in the third row to be exact. It was funny because even though she won’t admit it, I think my sister was nervous that one or both of us would be singled out. What made me come to this conclusion is when my sister asked me if I had to go to the restroom because we would have to walk in front of the stage in order to get there. Well, when the show finally started, sure enough there were some people singled out in the audience for the comic’s amusement, luckily neither I or any of the people I was with were subjected to embarrassment. As the show went on, there was one joke involving blind individuals, particularly referencing Stevie Wonder. I have to say, the show was funny and I laughed really hard at several parts. Once the show was over, I made a sigh of relief that I did not have to be the brunt of the comic’s jokes. Overall, it was a fun evening! Has anyone ever been to a comedy show? If so, please share your experiences!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jokes, Mockery, or Marginalization?

I have always had a great sense of humor, even after the loss of my eyesight. As a matter of fact, I believe laughter is good for the soul and helps a person cope with their everyday situation. Within our society, there are several comedy acts and television series that help reach a person’s sense of humor, causing them to laugh for the moment. Throughout the comedy acts and television shows, there are jokes made about a particular event, situation, group, and/or an individual. With this said, there is the need to draw on society’s humorous side. So taking this into consideration, where is the line drawn and when does a joke become something more? I truly believe that when a joke sets out to deliver laughter through the mocking of another person, it can be harmful to the individual and society as a whole.
Many jokes have been played out based upon weight, race, economic class, ability, etc. As a result, more stereotypes can arise about that particular group, causing them to be treated differently within society. When I think of jokes gone wrong, by causing pain to a person, New York Governor Paterson comes to mind.
On the hit late night show, Saturday Night Live (SNL), there was a skit depicting Governor Paterson as he is trying to find a replacement for Senator Clinton. For those of you who don’t know, Governor Paterson is legally blind. The skit mocks his disability in several ways throughout the segment. The actor who plays Governor Paterson, said he has three criteria for finding a replacement for Senator Clinton; economic experience, upstate influence, and someone who has a disability and is unprepared for the job like he is. In my opinion, it is statements like these that contribute to the discrimination, stereotypes, and high unemployment rates for visually impaired individuals. The skit on SNL went on to mock Governor Paterson by having the impersonator talk about an illustrated chart depicting job loss, while the chart was being held upside down. The SNL skit caused a lot of controversy across the nation, sparking discussion around the treatment of the disabled. Some media figures were saying how Governor Paterson has made jokes about himself in the past, what makes this skit different? It is the message behind the joke and how it is used that makes the difference. When Governor Paterson was making jokes about himself, they were not degrading or depicting a particular group to be less competent than another. Another comment that was brought on one of the morning talk shows was that blind/visually impaired individuals are being sensitive to the skit because of the heightened economic strain and there was nothing wrong with the SNL segment. In my opinion, if demanding respect is being sensitive, then I suggest opening up the dictionary and reviewing the definitions of respect, disrespect, mean, and cruel. This whole issue touches home with me because on one of my local radio stations, they were making crude and vulgar jokes about the descriptive videos for the blind. Just to illustrate the crudeness of the comments on the radio show, I was not the only one who took offense; my mom was repulsed as well. Due to the offense that I took after hearing the segment, I wrote a letter to the radio station’s director and received a response back. The director said she read the transcripts and she didn’t see anything offensive about the show. After several e-mails back and forth, I realized that the radio station was not trying to see the situation from my point of view. In addition to my e-mail, several of my friends also wrote and/or called into the station to convey their concerns. As a part of personal choice, I have not listened to the radio station since the
skit. I truly believe that laughter is one component to happiness, but not at the expense of others. It is one thing to make jokes about yourself, but it is another to use them to dehumanize others. It is jokes and comments like these that cause me to have to prove myself every time I step into a classroom or place of employment. These situations are frustrating, but it is important not to give up and remember that what impacts one person is likely to touch others as well. In addition, one person standing up for what is right, can make a world of difference for all!

Monday, June 15, 2009

We Need Our Readers...

Hello! We are adding a Spotlight section to our website that is being developed...in this section we would like to spotlight our readers who are visually impaired and have a story of overcoming obstacles. If you have a story that you would like to share please submit it to beautifullyblind@ymail.com along with a picture if you'd like, how you would like your name to appear ex. Jane Doe, J. Doe, Jane D., or Anonymous and your home State.

Thanks and have a blessed day!

Beautifully Blind Inc.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just Breathe...

I know I'm a slacker lol! It's been a week since Robin's graduated and I'm just now getting around to write about it. I loved being Robin's guide because it was such a great accomplishment, but let me tell you...I was soooo nervous! I felt like I was graduating! It kind of felt good because I didn't walk when I received my bachelor's, so I got to experience it through my sister. Unfortunately I had failed Managerial Accounting and had to go to summer school to make it up...I didn't want to have my family travel all the way to Georgia again to see me walk later so I just picked my degree up from the register's office...such sweet memories HA! Anyway we had to meet with the disabilities offices a couple of hours before the ceremony to figure out where we were going to walk. They made a special aisle for us to walk up...the row was not in the Master of Social Work group, it was in the Masters of Business Administration group, so we had to remember who we were to go after in the MSW group so Robin could fall into place. We ended up sitting next to 2 very nice men who were receiving their MBA's, one of them was graduating with his brother,they had completed the program together. Brian was the other guy, he was very nice and the type of person that you wish all people were like. He was interested in learning about how one functions being blind. Robin enjoyed answering his questions about her disability and how she did her papers and etc. She said she wished everyone with questions approached her as he did instead of assume or just right out ignore her. So anyway, back to the graduation plan, because we were sitting with the wrong group after Robin got her degree we would have to walk around the back and get out of line to go over to where they were taking photos; my plan was to stay in line with the MBA candidates and break off from them when they went to get their degrees and take Robin to get her picture taken. We found out that wasn't going to work because her group received their degrees after the MBA's so we wouldn't have hers to take the picture with. I began to get nervous because we were down on the floor of the auditorium and there were thousands of people in the stands that would see us...messing up! So I'm sitting there trying to figure out how are we going to maneuver this. Luckily all the Marshals were aware of what was going on with Robin's disability and were there to guide us. When it was time for the Master's of Social Work group to go one of the Marshals came to tell us to get ready and was there to help us...I was able to ask him what should we do about the picture and he said he would take care of it...he asked the photographers to stay after so Robin could take her picture. That was perfect because I did not want to be walking around out of order in front of all those people. For some reason I was so nervous...my knees were shaking! LOL! So, now it's getting close to Robin's name being called, I'm looking for the girl that we are supposed to fall in line in front of...as we're walking up the aisle that they made for Robin she's telling me "don't forget to tell me when to step up the stairs, I don't want to fall on the stage!" So I'm getting nervous with all these people and making sure I guide her right, I take her to the stage and then to the Chancellor to get her degree...I turned around and saw all those people so I got nervous and guided Robin off the stage telling her, step, step, step...once we get back to our seats I realized I didn't take her to shake the Professor's and Dean's hand!!! Oh well the good thing is everything else went smoothly..at the end we all walked out and Robin was able to go take her picture and I was finally able to breathe!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


June 5, 2009 was a momentous day for me because it was the graduation ceremony for students receiving a graduate degree. I put on the black cap and gown with pride because I have worked really hard to get to this day. The memorizing, paper writing, late nights cramming, etc. paid off because I reached my academic goal. However, although I put in a lot of work, I cannot take all of the credit because if it was not for my mom, dad, and sister, I would not have been able to fulfill my objectives. My family has offered me continued support through their advocacy and devotion. My family has been embarking on this long hard journey with me, and along the way, they have given me the strength to live out my dream of helping others. Therefore, graduation was a great moment to live out with my family. I was glad my sister was able to be my guide during the ceremony because it meant a lot to have someone sitting next to me, to whom I care a lot about. Plus, it was pretty funny listening to my sister talk about how nervous she was leading me the wrong way.
So, as I began to walk in the processional with my peers and future colleagues, I could not help but remember all of the times that were spent on the campus. In addition to my Master’s, I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Denver, as well. In other words, I have been going to school on the same campus for six years. It has been a place where I have met many challenges, but over time, I eventually overcame those obstacles. With this said, along with pride, I felt sorrow because I was saying goodbye to a chapter in my life that has helped me grow so much as a person. Now that my time on my school’s campus is over, I am now entering into another phase in my life, where I am sure I will learn a lot more life lessons.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Out of Hibernation

To all of our beautiful readers, I apologize for the long period since I have last blogged, but I have been in hibernation. These last couple weeks I have been consumed with school work, my internship, and my new job. Well, don’t get too excited for me, my new job is only one day a week, but I guess it’s a start, right? So, piggybacking off of my sister’s recent post about Wal-Mart, I have another interesting story that I want to share with you. Like my sister’s story, this one also involves an incident at Wal-Mart. Well, it all started when my Mom and I went shopping at our local Wal-Mart when we were approached by a male shopper. The man stopped his basket and asked my Mom how old was I (Remember the blog when I talked about how some people do not talk directly to me, but instead to the person to whom I am with, well this was one of those situations). In response to the man’s question, I replied “I am 25.” In a shocked response, the man told me that I do not look like I am 25 and then he went on to ask me how much could I see. I answered his question and thought that was the extent to our conversation, but I was wrong. The man ended the conversation by saying “God bless and good luck kid.” I have to say that was one of the strangest interactions I have had from a perfect stranger. However, although the interaction was bizarre, I am use to strangers coming up to me when I am out in public. In fact, I could probably write a book on the various interactions I have had since the loss of my eyesight. With this said, since I have lost my eyesight, I have wondered if any other blind/visually impaired individuals have had similar situations to mine where strangers have approached them. If any of this sounds familiar, we would love to hear from you about the similar encounters you have experienced!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Wow it has been a busy, busy, busy month! I have been working diligently to get stuff for Beautifully Blind Inc. together...it is coming along! We have an awesome web designer Nicole Williams, she is making sure that the website is screen reader accessible...check her out at www.nicolewilliams.info; our website should be up soon, we will keep you posted! I think everyone will enjoy it! Beautifully Blind Inc.'s mission is to bridge the gap between the sighted and visually impaired. Through education and resources we hope to help in leveling the playing field in social and professional arenas of life. Thank you to those who have posted comments and have shared your lives with us, you help make us more determined to push towards our goal! Robin will be graduating next month and I will be guiding her to the stage to get her degree...I'll be wearing the entire cap and gown get up so I'll blend in with the rest of the graduates!!! Some random person guided her when she received her bachelor's; not as special as sharing the moment with someone close to you! I'm so proud of her! She also begins her job as a group counselor...I am making up some adaptive forms for her to use with her computer, so the writing part of her job will be taken care of. She is so blessed to be employed by such great people; people that are open minded, non-judgmental and willing to give her a chance...they see Robin for the young lady that she is and do not define her according to her disability. Hopefully more people will learn to have this attitude. So for those of you out there that work with Robin...you know who you are....YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009


Hello my name is Robin and yes, I am visually impaired. However, my impairment does not make me any less human than you, so treat me accordingly. There have been times when I have felt like saying this, and a lot more to some people that I have come across because they either have treated me as though I was invisible or incapable of understanding what they are saying. Since I lost my eyesight, I can’t even count the number of times when people have talked to the person I am with about issues pertaining to me, instead of asking me directly. This can be frustrating because I am capable of answering for myself, and the person is taking that right away from me. It is a sad fact, but I don’t think that this issue only affects blind/visually impaired individuals, but a lot of other disabled people as well. For example, I was at our state capitol, and I heard a wheelchair bound man talk about how he felt like a third class citizen because of the way others have treated him. The man went on to talk about how some of the medical personnel would talk about what to do with him to his wife, as though he was not a person. Whenever I am with my mom or sister, they challenge this type of treatment by saying, “You can ask her yourself, she’s right here." When hearing this statement, many people realize their mistake and try to correct it by either apologizing or simply asking the question again, but directing it to me.
Educating others is important because if their mistakes go without being challenged, then they will keep committing the same actions without thinking twice about them. On the flip side, it is also good to acknowledge other’s positive actions because it can enable them to be aware and continue to better assist people in the future. When we go to a store or out to dinner where the salesperson/waiter is in tuned to my needs, then my mom, sister, or I will praise their efforts. When anyone, especially service personnel takes the time to be helpful, then it shows me that they care and value me as a person.
Another frustration that I have come across and will be discussed are friendships. Along with losing my eyesight, I lost some of my friends, which was heartbreaking at the time. I never would have thought the people to whom I called my friends, would abandon me because of a situation that was out of my control. When things like this happen, I try to remember what my dad tells me, which is "Don’t be so quick to call everyone your friend because your true friends will stick with you through the thick and thin." For those of you who lost friends due to your blindness/visual impairment; just remember that you are a great person and those people are not worthy of your friendship.
In addition to some of my friends, my peers treated me differently from sighted students by not asking me to be in their study groups and/or not talking to me in class. I actually had one incident in class where one student physically went to everyone in the classroom and asked them to be his partner, when he got to me; he kept going and asked the person sitting next to me. When this happened, I felt really sad and alienated because I wanted to be treated like the other students. Some people feel that because I am visually impaired, I cannot do the same things as them. Another example is when one day my mom decided to play matchmaker and introduce me to this one guy on campus. Well, according to the student, it turned out that we had already had a previous class together, but he never said anything to me. When asked by my so honest mom why didn’t he talk to me, he gestured to the fact because I was blind. My mom educated him by saying, "Just because she is blind that does not mean she can’t talk to you." Let’s just say that I went on to have another class with him and he made it a point to say hello lol! The fact of the matter is that in our society, there are still people who will be clueless and/or mean when it comes to interacting with people who are different from them. One way to deal with these types of people is through education and awareness. However, even through education, some people may not want to change, and then you must treat them with a grain of salt because you are a beautiful person who deserves to be treated with respect.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm Gonna Toot Your Horn...

Robin is shy when it comes to talking about herself and at times doesn’t give herself the credit that she deserves, so I’m going to toot her horn for her! I’ve watched Robin for 25 yrs and not once have I heard her complain, she takes it all in stride and tries to find ways to overcome whatever obstacles she is faced with. At times she thinks she’s a burden because there are some things she can’t do by herself and needs help, but she doesn’t realize that she is in no way a burden, she’s an inspiration. I love the fact that she asks me to drive her somewhere, because I like to see her get out and do things as she did before she was blind. The only thing I don’t like about driving her places is that she is a passenger driver! Imagine that, a blind passenger driver lol! She’s always telling me to watch the road (she says she can tell which way my head is turned by the sound of my voice) and she really gets on my husband for driving too fast! Other than hearing her criticism on our driving, we don’t mind taking her where she needs to go. Robin has dedicated her life to helping others. Her dream is to become a grief counselor and help those who have suffered some type of loss. She has taken what seemed to be a negative and turned it into a positive. Through this experience she has lost some friends, (but good riddance because they weren’t really friends), and she has gained some genuine friends. She’s learned that each chapter of her life that she closes there is something new and wonderful waiting to be unfolded in the next. Unfortunately, some people don’t take the time to get to know Robin to realize how fabulous she is. I often wonder how much we all are missing out on by prejudging others and building up misconceptions and stereotypes. I’m sure there is some fabulous person that we look over on a daily basis that we’ve never taken the time to get to know because they are different from ourselves, whether it’s a disability, race, religion, social economic status etc. I challenge anyone reading this to take the time and find out about someone not like ourselves…I’m sure you’ll find the greatness in them and realize they are not that much different. Until next time…stay open minded!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Place of Employment...

As graduation approaches, I am finding myself saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. I am getting ready to embark on a new journey of the unknown. There is a big world out there with a lot of opportunities, but also disappointments at the same time. I constantly find myself wondering if/when I find an employer; will they be receptive to my situation? When I say receptive, I mean an employer who is understanding, patient, open to change, and most importantly has the ability to believe in me as an employee.
Unfortunately, there are preconceived notions that people have about various groups in society, such as blind/visually impaired individuals. With this in mind, there is this heightened pressure to prove others wrong and debunk the stereotypes. According to several studies, employment rates among blind/visually impaired individuals are low, due in part to employer’s attitudes. One way to set an example is by continuing to believe in yourself; mind over matter. I truly believe that our way of thinking impacts our actions, which helps determine the outcome. I know the process can be frustrating, but when one door closes, another opens. For example, my first internship was a complete stressful situation because I did not feel supported by my supervisor. I felt that there was not a lot of openness to change or modification of task completion, which left me feeling out of place.
Eventually, I left that internship and found myself without a placement. It took several months for me to find the right internship, which proved to be the best choice. But, when beginning my second internship, I was nervous because of all of the negative experiences that I had my previous placement. However, despite my nervousness, I had a mission to show the people at my new internship that I could do the work in a sufficient manner. So far, I am in my 11th month of being at my second internship and am about to close the door on this chapter in my life, so I can open a new one. My request to you all, sighted or blind/visually impaired individuals, is to not give up and keep believing in yourself because you are a unique person who deserves nothing but the best in life. Plus, not only are you a unique individual, but you are also an inspiration to others around you. You never know who is watching you and in admiration of your daily actions!

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's All Good...

Robin is getting her groove back! This past Saturday Robin’s friend Stephanie had a get together for her birthday and Robin went! No big deal right? Wrong! This is a big deal because Robin is becoming more comfortable with hanging out. Before Robin lost her eyesight she was very outgoing and liked to hang out with her friends, but once she lost her sight that all changed. Robin would only go out with our mom, and her really good friends Lynn and Teresa from her middle school and Jennie and Curtis that she met her freshman year at Oklahoma Christian University; these were the people she felt the most comfortable around. I think I wasn’t a part of that list in the beginning because she either thought I wasn’t cool to hang around or she thought I would forget her and leave her somewhere lol! Which both are so untrue…well partially untrue! First, I am the coolest of cool and secondly, I’ve only forgotten Robin a few times lol! It registers quickly now that she’s blind and I’ve only left her for a second or two before I tell her to come on! We’ve been hanging out for 2 yrs now…yeah, yeah I know she’s been blind for 7 yrs...I know you’re probably thinking wow 5 yrs for her to trust to go out with you alone…I guess it took awhile for her to get over the New Orleans’s incident (see the very 1st post) lol! Anyway, she started going out with me and then she ventured out and went out with me and my friends (friends that she’s known for a while), then she began hanging out with a classmate Jessie on her own. Since she’s lost her sight she used to feel uncomfortable around groups of people that she didn’t know and would decline any invitations outside of her comfort zone, so it shocked me when she asked me to take her to Stephanie’s party. I was happy to take her and enjoyed seeing her have a good time. Slowly but surely she’s getting back into the groove of things and becoming comfortable in the life that she has as beautiful young woman who happens to be blind. I am so happy that Robin is blessed with really good friends that accept her for who she is; beautifully blind!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Programs, Programs, Programs

Window Eyes, Jaws, and other text to speech programs have transformed technology in ways that allow the blind/visually impaired individuals to have access to materials, programs, internet, etc. With our world moving more into the technological way of doing things, text to speech programs allow blind/visually impaired individuals to take part in the uprising trends. I personally use Window Eyes and love it because the key strokes are easier to learn. I have Window Eyes downloaded on my computer, to which I take to class and type my notes. However, when I take my computer to class, I make sure I have my headphones because I don’t think my Professor wants to be competing with my Window Eyes, lol. The fact is, without my Window Eyes program, it would be a lot harder for me to perform the daily tasks at school and my internship.

Although Window Eyes is a great tool to have, like other technology, it does not work with a lot of programs. Being in school, I found out how difficult it is to navigate visual programs such as the graphs/charts in Microsoft and the statistical program, SPSS. When my Window Eyes program does not work, it can be frustrating because there is the need to get the task accomplished. In addition, it can be difficult explaining visual programs to sighted individuals, especially when Window Eyes is not working properly. For example, when trying to explain the SPSS program, it was hard because without my Window Eyes working properly, it was like I had to navigate through the menus without any sound; just memory. It is also hard for me to try to explain something without actually being able to do it. When helping others, especially a person using a text to speech program, it is important for sighted individuals to have patience and understanding.


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Beautifully Blind Inc.

Friday, April 17, 2009


The other day Robin was working on a project for one of her classes. She had done the preliminary work in excel because her screen reader would not read the SPSS program (predictive analytical software). I was amazed at how she maneuvered through the program with ease. I am a financial analyst and use excel daily. Thinking that since I was proficient in excel I could maneuver through excel like Robin. I closed my eyes and tried to use excel using the screen reader; I became frustrated immediately. I don’t know how she does it. Since her screen reader could not read the SPSS program, I told her I would help her. After a few moments of trying to understand the program, Robin became frustrated with me and told me never mind. She said it was too difficult to explain to me and that she would ask the blind tech guy at her schools’ disabilities office. First I was taken back a little by Robin saying it was too difficult to explain to me…like I’m an idiot LOL! I later laid my pride aside and thought how amazing it is that although someone is blind they can still maneuver through complex computer programs. Since Robin became blind I have learned a lot about being visually impaired and have realized there are a lot of misconceptions. With the experience of Robin and her computer program I wondered if some of the misconceptions hinder the visually impaired with employment. For instance Robin fully understood her task and could complete it on her own; however, the program required was unreadable by the screen reader so she could not complete it until she had the disabilities’ office fix it. Would it be perceived that she was incompetent because she didn’t have the tools to complete the task? Do companies invest in aides for the visually impaired in order for them to fully utilize their skills; or are the visually impaired looked over for certain jobs because it’s assumed that they are incapable? What happens to those who do not have access to the tools needed to fully function in a job, in school or just in daily life?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Never Give Up...

Life is full of challenges and trying moments, but it is how one encounters those trying moments that will determine the impact it has on ones’ future. The loss of a person’s eyesight can cause them to experience a variety of emotions such as: fear, frustration, sadness, anger, devastation, etc. But most importantly there is that enormous sense of loss of what was once there and the longing to have it again. Like any other loss or major life transition, a person who is blind might go through the grief process as they learn to adapt to their new situation. The grief process is comprised of five stages which are shock/denial, sadness/anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. A person might not experience all of these stages and they may appear over and over throughout a lifetime.
I can honestly say that I grieved over the loss of my eyesight by experiencing shock, sadness, and eventually, acceptance. What helped me to cope with my situation, was knowing that I could express my feelings to my family and have them listen. However, although my family listened to me with a compassionate ear, they enabled me not to feel sorry for myself. Over time, I accepted the reality of my situation and began asking myself what am I going to do to overcome the devastation of the change within my life? In my case, the answer was returning back to school. I enjoy learning and being knowledgeable about a variety of issues. In addition, continuing my education and obtaining the goals I set for myself. Enrolling back in college, allowed me to continue on my path of one day being able to help others. Throughout my education, I realized that not only was I learning from the professors, but they were gaining knowledge and experience from me about teaching students who are blind. Many of my professors have told me that I have helped them have a new perspective on teaching and they will carry that on with them in future classes. As a person who is blind, I realized that a lot of my co-workers, friends, peers, and professors have learned a lot from my experiences. For example, one of my friends wanted to hang out with me, but she was hesitant in asking me to go see a movie because she didn’t think it would be fun for me. After my friend had professed her feelings, I told her that I go to movies all of the time and I enjoy going to the theatres. As a matter of fact, I still engage in a lot of the same activities that I once did before; the only difference is in the way I do them. Some activities that I enjoy are listening to audio books, going to the movies, playing computer games, hanging out with family/friends, and going shopping. Whatever your interests are, try to find some alternate ways where you can still enjoy them. It is important to remember that everyone is an individual who copes differently and at different paces. The point is that we all have some inner strength within us, and as my mom always says, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Stevie Wonder once said, “We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.” Everyone has the potential to overcome their obstacles; it’s just finding that inner strength to do so.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blind Dating….

Today I came across a website for visually impaired dating. It stated that it was place where visually impaired could feel at ease, meet people with the same disability and find love. The question that came to me was is it assumed that because one is blind that they only date or are interested in someone blind as well? I’m 5’1”, should there be a website that promotes dating for those that are 5”…nothing against short men (my granddaddy was the same height as me LOL!), but the categorizing just really gets to me. My thought is if you’re visually impaired or sighted, dating is the same…being blind does not define who you are as a person. There are many blind or visually impaired individuals whose spouses are sighted, as well as their children. As Robin puts it, she’s not a blind person…she’s a person who happens to be blind. Just like any other female there are certain attributes that she looks for in a mate, and whether they can see or not is not on her list. You date someone because you have the same interest, likes and beliefs. And although she preaches it’s not what the person looks like on the outside, it’s about what’s in their heart (which is true)…there are certain things that make a man or woman attractive to an individual. Depending on your likes and dislikes there are certain things that draw you to an individual. That same something that makes me weak in the knees for Morris Chestnut is the same something that made Robin post a picture of Omarion on her wall and not Scott MacIntyre (blind American Idol contestant). It’s a matter of preference not a matter of blindness. She claims it’s not because of Omarion’s built physique (yeah right, whatever Robin!), but because when she had the opportunity to meet him the way he treated her with respect and dignity as he would have his other fans. Respect and dignity is really all that one who is visually impaired wants, to be viewed and treated the same as those that are sighted. We see differently but we all feel the same.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blindness in the Media...

In past decades and especially in today’s society, the media such as television, films, documentaries, etc. have impacted people’s perceptions, such as the way he/she views others. The media is a source of information that can influence a person to think one way or another; which can be both a positive and a negative at the same time. For example, the media can either debunk or enhance society’s stereotypes about various groups such as blind/visually impaired individuals.
With the huge presence of the media in mind, I decided to conduct some research on the amount of television shows that have depicted blind/visually impaired individuals and the messages that are being conveyed. Out of all the major networks such as, NBC, ABC, and CBS, I found that only one of these three networks portrayed blindness through a main character. The network that has depicted blindness on more than one occasion is ABC with 4 shows. Although NBC/CBS also had blind/visually impaired characters on some of their shows, the parts were guest roles and the storyline was not ongoing. In ABC’s General Hospital, One Life to Live, and Desperate House Wives, at least one of the main characters, who were once sighted, suddenly lost their eyesight. The duration of the blindness for these characters was a part of the storyline for months, but not a whole season. The blindness was lifted from these characters due to a surgery that restored their sight. The fact is that many blind/visually impaired individuals are unable to regain their eyesight; however, that does not mean hope has subsided. I still have hope of one day being able to see again.
In terms of ABC’s 4th show, Blind Justice was a sitcom solely based off a blind detective who again, was once sighted, but suddenly lost his eyesight. What sets this drama a part from the other shows, is that this one is based off of the blind character and the weekly storylines are about his experiences. In my opinion, the show had a lot of positive representations, but also gave way to some stereotypes that persist in today’s society. Blind Justice started running in the 2nd week in March of 2005 and was taken off the air in June of that same year. All in all, my findings found that ABC had the most shows with depictions of blind/visually impaired individuals. However, if you can think of anymore shows or want to add any comments, please do so!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Poll #2....

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence ~ Helen Keller

A person that is blind can do any of the activities listed in the poll: ski, golf, bowl, swim, appreciate art, horseback ride, go to the movies, go to an amusement park and go to a concert. Golf and appreciate art did not receive any votes. There is the United States Blind Golf Association and their moto is “you don’t have to see it to tee it!” There are many museums that have art that can be touched; art can also be described and there are blind photographers as well! Those that are visually impaired or totally blind can lead normal and fulfilling lives just as those who are sighted.

I do fun stuff with my sister Robin all of the time. We had the most fun when we got her to go on Space Mountain at Disneyland...I tricked her by telling her it was the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride. I know…I know I should be ashamed of myself for lying to her. But I’m not! She had the ride of her life! LOL! Afterwards she said she had a blast! My sister and I go to the movies all the time, my 6 year old likes to sit next to my sister and describe to her what’s on the screen. It’s funny because my daughter Imani doesn’t quite have the whispering voice down so we always have to tell her to lower her voice! For the most part people don’t mind…however there was one incident that happened a couple of years after Robin went blind that was just heart wrenching. We had gone to see the Passion of the Christ. The movie was in a different languages, I think Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin so there were captions; I was trying to describe the movie and read the captions to Robin, although I was whispering into Robin’s ear what was going on some people near us got irritated…to see the tears stream down my sister’s face because she couldn’t enjoy something as simple as a movie was just so hard to bear. We later bought the DVD because it was descriptive and she was able to watch it at home. Luckily a lot of movies we see now are comedies and are loud anyway so noone notices me describing to Robin. She pretty much just follows the story line. The scenes that I have to describe are the non-verbal scenes. A group of us got together to go see Sex and the City…loved it! However, there was a lot of non-verbal scenes that I just refused to describe to my baby sister…so I just told her “by the sounds of what you hear, I’m sure you know what is going on!” She’d just say “yeah, I got it, no need for you to describe it!” Whew thank goodness!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Niece's Love...

I love to watch the interaction between my daughter Imani and my sister...the love that Imani has for her aunt is so pure. Tee-Tee is what Imani calls her. Robin lost her sight around the time I had Imani, so she's never seen Imani. When she asked me what Imani looks like I just tell her to remember a picture of me when I was Imani's age and that will give her an idea of what she looks like. Imani knows that Robin cannot see and she takes pride in leading Robin and telling Robin when to "step" when she comes to a curb or stairs or telling her where something is. What really amazes me is the mind of the child, it is so non-discriminating and accepting of all people regardless of any differences; and then unfortunatley as a child grows up they become effected by all the pollution lingering out in the world. This past week I took Imani to an amusement center, and of course she wanted Tee-Tee to come because Tee-Tee's so much fun! She insisted that Robin go on the bumper cars with her and play ski ball to help her win tickets! I'm sure that was some ride for Robin...allowing a 6 year old to steer and not being able to see! She's a brave one! This is what I love so much about Imani's relationship with Robin, she knows that Robin is blind, but she does not treat her any different, all she knows and cares about is that this is her Tee-Tee and that's who she enjoys spending her time with. Imani was so proud of the prize she got because Tee-Tee won the tickets for her! Wouldn't it be nice if we all could go back to that way of thinking...to treat everyone the same regardless of any differences or disabilities? Imagine being able to look past all of the superficial things and look at what matters the most, a persons character and heart.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blizzard '09...

There is a common saying, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow; however, I was saying let it stop! When I had my eyesight, I loved looking out of my window at the white snow flakes falling down, but being out in it was a different story. What may look beautiful to the human eye or imagination, can be very deceiving. Let’s just say, although I was not able to see the snow, I was able to use my other senses such as my hearing, touch, and smell.
I find it very interesting to listen to the various sounds within the world, especially the noises of nature. Riding home from my internship with my colleague, who is also my neighbor, I could hear the snow flakes falling briskly against the windshield, as the wipers swished back and forth to wipe them away. The sound of the wipers and the snow falling made a weird rhythmic movement as we drove along the streets. In addition, the sound of the tires trudging through the snow became apparent as we tried to maneuver our way through the blizzard. The hums of the wind, snow falling, windshield wipers swishing, and cars tracking in the snow, made the journey home intriguing. However, one sound that no one wants to hear, especially a visually impaired person, is the driver saying that they can’t see either! LOL! The windshield had fogged and the visibility was difficult because of all of the snow. After hearing my neighbor say this, I was thinking to myself, well that’s great, two people who can’t see the road in a blizzard! Whoa! My neighbor thought about what she said and mentioned that she probably should not have told me that…yeah, that’s the last thing a blind person wants to hear LOL! Luckily, the windshield cleared up and we slowly continued on our adventure.
Once we made it to our destination, I felt like jumping for joy that we made it safely and I thanked my neighbor. However, once I got out of the car, my thanks to my neighbor was cut short, as the snow flakes were hitting my face at what it felt like to be 100mph. I tried to pull my hood over my hair, but that did not help a whole lot I was drenched from the cold wet snow. As I walked, my boots started to fill with snow and my feet began to get that tingling feeling; which made me realize that I need to invest in some new boots. In addition, I find it hard to use my cane in the snow, especially when there is a lot of it because that darn thing kept getting stuck! With the snow hitting my face, filling my shoes, toes tingling, and the stiff brisk air which made it hard for me to actually breathe, my other senses definitely let me know I was in a blizzard!

We Appreciate Our Beautiful Readers....

You spoke and we listened! We'd like to thank one of our readers who suggested that we look into changing the colors of the website for those who have low vision. The site does look better and is easier to read! A white and baby blue background with black, navy and dark purple text for a contrast has replaced the black background with white text. Thank you for the positive feedback! We love suggestions like this because we want our site to be accessible to all and it helps to educate us on the different types of vision loss! Let's continue to educate each other!

Many Thanks!
Beautifully Blind

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reveal of the Poll...

Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision ~ Stevie Wonder

Today is the reveal of the poll! What do you think is the most misconception of the visually impaired? As we know these are all misconceptions, however the most believed misconception is that the other senses of the visually impaired are heightened. The fact is people with normal sight ignore their other senses because we have sight to compensate. But blind individuals depend more on their other senses because they need to use them in order to compensate for their blindness. Now, to dispel the other misconceptions! Coming in second on our poll is the visually impaired do not care about style or fashion. I don’t know about anyone else but my sister cares about what she has on and is picky about what she wears! I’m quite sure other visually impaired people do to…although they can not see the items can be described to them. Robin has her own individual style, quite different from mine. She’s into more of the laid back and casual style while I’m into the grown and sexy style (smile)! My sister subscribes to all types of fashion magazines which she gets on tape or reads using her scanner/screen reader. She also knows what’s in style or what the new trend is from the internet or television, yes she watches tv...well listens to it! She even goes to the movies…we’ll talk about that in another blog (I have a funny story about the movies…imagine trying to describe a no words Samantha scene from Sex and the City to your younger sister WOO!). Coming in third there’s a tie between they are mentally challenged and they cannot be independent. Well, to dispel these misconceptions my sister Robin is graduating in June with her Master’s Degree in Social Work. She goes to school and is involved in an internship. There are many centers for the blind that teach them the tools to live and travel independently. Individuals that are blind or visually impaired can lead as full a life as anyone else as long at they are allotted proper training and equally opportunities. Many view their blindness as a physical nuisance and not a disability. In fourth place is that the visually impaired is hard of hearing. Obviously sight has nothing to do with hearing…Robin’s always wondering why people talk extra loud! Robin can’t see but she can definitely hear; she’s always eavesdropping on my conversations LOL! And the only time she’s hard of hearing is when it’s selective and she doesn’t want to do something you’ve asked her LOL! Lastly, is that they have to wear those ugly black sunblockers. The need for any type of sunglasses depends on the individual’s situation and preferences. Robin occasionally wears a pair of black Jackie O style sunglasses, not because she needs to, but because she thinks she’s cute! Hope this poll helped answer some questions, dispel some misconceptions and bridge the gap between the sighted and the beautifully blind!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Difference...

“We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond all senses” ~ Helen Keller. Close your eyes and imagine living in a world with no sight, not being able to see what is going on around you. Everything in life is perceived through hearing different sounds, active listening, smell, touch, and sensations of different temperatures. Your interactions with other people are not guided by physical non-verbals such as gestures, but instead the unseen, people’s tone and volume of voice. Now open your eyes. This example was supposed to serve as a tool to illustrate that not being able to see can be hard, and to some who have their vision, the thought of losing their eyesight is unthinkable. In fact, the world places a huge emphasis on the visual sense, rather than other senses. It is not until one sense is taken away, such as vision, that a person realizes the true value and importance of their other senses.
As a sighted person, I took for granted the fact that I was able to look outside my window at the trees, cars passing by, and birds flying above. It’s a true reality, you never know what you have, until it’s gone. Although I do not have my eyesight, I am grateful for the fact that I can walk, talk, hear; some advantages that some people do not have. All in all, I challenge you to take a step back, and ask yourself, what would it be like to navigate in the world without…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mainstream Making Products Accessible...

Props go out to Apple for making products accessible to the visually impaired! There is the Mac OS X which comes with a built in screen reader, voice commands and a lot of other bells and whistles. There’s also the iPod nano with spoken menus and the new iPod shuffle that talks to you AND the iPhone has special features for the visually impaired (once someone hears about this I’m sure she will be trading in her Nokia N75). Also, big ups to Verizon for coming out with the Moto Q 9c with Talks…this phone is screen reader enabled. However, our fav is AT&T, when searching for an accessible phone they were the first that we know of to come out with a screen reader, Mobile Speaks, N75 was the compatible phone at the time but it looks like there’s more variety now. When Robin became blind finding items that would make her life a little bit easier was difficult. I had to search high and low. Unfortunately, things aren’t that accessible or don’t exist, and the ones that are available do not come cheap. There’s a device called a Note Reader, it tells you what type of currency you have for $300…crazy when all the government has to do is add an indicator on the bills, but I won’t even get into that…that’s a whole other blog! Robin is blessed that she is able to get the aides she needs to function independently. It would be nice if these items were available to all socioeconomic groups. Hmmm…gives me an idea, wonder if any of these companies would be willing to donate any aides to those in need, but cannot afford it. Stay posted! I’m all about helping the underprivileged! Where we live there is 1 store that sells the products/technology she needs...not the cell phones or Apple products, those are accessible, but the other everyday independent living aides, like color detector, level detectors etc. There’s a place in NY that I order her aides from as well and they are really good because if they don’t have something if you tell them about it they will get it for you. It was so difficult to find something as simple as a watch. The watches that are available for the blind…functional yes…cute, NO! And the alarms that are built into them OH MY!!! Robin left her watch at my house one time…not the cute pink one I got her…but the hideous black bulk of a watch…the alarm went off early in the morning…it scared me and my husband nearly to death!!!! It was a LOUD “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO”!!!! We’re looking around wondering what is that!!!! It goes off again, we’re looking around, finally find it …it was Robin’s watch! She thought it was just so funny…I told her “don’t you ever leave that thing over here again!” Her payback is coming LOL! Hopefully more companies will follow Apple’s lead and keep the visually impaired in mind when developing their products…they knew that a 25 year old visually impaired woman would rather be walking around with a cute pink iPod shuffle that she could utilize just like everyone else in her age group instead of a big old school walkman! Apple has definitely raised the bar! Much love!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thank Goodness for Technology...

Since I lost my eyesight, I am constantly thinking to myself that I am so glad it was during a time where there is a lot of technological advances. I am constantly asked by friends, peers, co-workers, and strangers, how am I able to accomplish various tasks, such as being on my computer? It is questions like this one and others that reveal an interest among people to learn more about the world of blind individuals; I welcome any questions! No question is off limits...well there may be a limit LOL!
Anyway, to shed some light into some of the technology that helps me, I’ll first talk about my computer. I have a basic laptop that I take with me to school and my internship. In order to enable me to use my computer, I bought and downloaded a text to speech program called Window Eyes. So, for sighted individuals, whatever you see on the screen, my computer announces it verbally. With my computer, I am able to write papers, read materials, surf the internet, and most importantly, interact with you all on this wonderful site.
My second gadget that I use is my talking watch. At the touch of a button, my watch verbally announces the time, has a stop watch, and has an alarm clock. However, when I use my talking watch, I must remember that along with myself, people around me can tell when I am checking the time, so in meetings, I would recommend a braille watch. When it comes to watches for the blind, there are limited choices and styles to choose from. With this said, many of the watches for the blind are big/bulky or they only come in black. Thanks to my sister’s investigating, she found me a stylish watch that came in my favorite color, pink.
The third gadget is my color decoder, which helps me recognize various colors of my clothes. This electronic is definitely important because I have to maintain my sense of style. Yes, I care about what I look like...I may be blind to sight but not to style! Matching clothes is very important to me. I would know if I wasn't looking oh so fab by the snickers of the sighted passing by! So, when I wake up in the morning, I pull out my color decoder, hold it up to the piece of clothing, and it verbally announces the color. Still, like all forms of technology, it malfunctions sometimes, so I always double check with my mom or whoever is around to make sure I have the right outfit. I also double check myself by feeling my clothes, however I have multiple shirts that are the same, but in different colors.
I could go on forever talking about the various gadgets that help me in my daily routine, which it probably seems as though I have already done so. But, instead of going into depth, I am just going to list the other gadgets that I use, which consist of my tape recorder, talking cell phone, personal organizer, cup sensor, and a motion sensor. All of the gadgets mentioned above have impacted my life and others by causing them to be startled when they hear all of the strange voices/noises that my nifty electronics bring with them! LOL! So if you hear a lot of strange sounds going off no need to be alarmed there's probably just a cane user in the room that's beautifully blind!

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Sister, My Inspiration...

Usually it’s the younger sister looking up to the older sister and aspiring to be like her; but I totally look up to my little sister Robin. She has been a great inspiration to me. I always wonder if had the shoe been on the other foot and I lost my eyesight, would I have been able to accomplish the things she has. I don’t know if I would have been as strong. I asked her what gets her through, and she simply says “my faith in God”. So simple, but yet so powerful; that’s all we really need. I am so proud of her; she will be graduating in June with her Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she lost her eyesight she never gave up. Looking from the outside she adjusted seamlessly; it amazes me the things that she can do so effortlessly that myself as a sighted person has trouble with; she’s my go to person with technical things like downloading music to my ipod!
I would question why this had to happen to her and if I could I would trade places with her so she could experience life with sight. God has a plan and He will not put on us more than we can bear. Through Robin I have learned that anything is possible and anything you put hard work and your mind to can be achieved.

Entering into the Unknown...

Sadness, fear, and frustration were just a few of the feelings that I was experiencing during the time I lost my eyesight. Week after week I literally watched my eyesight deteriorate before my eyes, not knowing when or if it would ever stop. It was really hard for me to deal with my situation because one week I was able to see print, the next I was only able to see shapes and barely count fingers. Throughout this whole process, I was told that my eyesight would probably come back, and if it did it would be within six months to one year.
I built up a false sense of hope that I would be able to return to my old routine of living life. Well, when six months passed and then one year, I realized that my hope to see again was becoming less of a reality for me. I was losing a major sense that I was heavily dependent on to help me function and maneuver within society. I lost my ability to drive my car, watch the changing of seasons, view scenery, and simply just having the ability to physically look at others that stood before me. I could go on forever talking about the things I miss doing when I had my eyesight, but the point is that my life has changed for as long as I know, and I must make the best out of my situation. The white cane that I use to guide me is not only a tool to signify to society that I am blind, but it is also a representation to me of what I have gone through and will face in the future; a life with no sight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beginning of the Journey...

I was inspired by my sister Robin to start this blog and document our journey through life together as sighted and visually impaired individuals. We've also started Beautifully Blind Inc...stay tuned this will be something you won't want to miss.
Since Robin became blind 7 years ago it has brought great awareness of the misconceptions between the sighted and visually impaired world. Some encounters that we've had were hilarious; like when Robin let go of my arm in a crowd in New Orleans, grabbed hold of someone else's arm and I had to go get her! It's also funny when people think Robin's a snob when she doesn't move out of the way or speak; they have no clue that she can't see and has no idea that they are there! LOL! Then there's those instances that make me so mad; like when she asks someone a question and they respond to me...she's blind, not deaf or mentally challenged! The worst is when people clearly see her cane and will not move out of the way. I tell her all the time she has the green light to cut loose on some ankles LOL!!! If they don't want to move, tear those ankles up with that cane! LOL! The majority of the time I forget Robin's visually impaired. She does pretty much everything a sighted person does; except drive and arch her eyebrows! She tried and what a travesty that was; thank goodness they grow back quickly! My sister is beautifully blind!