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.

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!