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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pardonez Moi.....

OK readers I need you to help your girl out! I am baffled and need some understanding. Is common courtesy nonexistent? I mean if you saw someone in your path with a bright white cane, wouldn't you think to move out of the way? Remember this blog is based on the perceptions of 2 sisters; one blind, one sighted; Robin seemed to find my irritation funny, but I was quite flabbergasted! I was not a happy shopper and usually shopping brings me great joy! Here's what happened, *sigh*, so we're at the mall getting our mom's Christmas gift, Thursday evening, the mall wasn't too crowded, normal mall crowd and people still continued to walk straight into us. WTH?! Not just once, not just twice...multiple times! This girl had to pull her boyfriend out of the way! We're walking, they see us...keep walking...I'm thinking are they gonna shift to the side...nope, they keep coming. I'm telling Robin, "These people see us, headed straight towards us and they are not gonna move". Robin's laughing, "Yeah, it happens all the time." So, now I'm at the point where I'm refusing to move, they are going to have to get out of our path. Can you believe these people still would not move?! They got right up on us to the point we're all doing a two step shuffle to get around each other! Again, WTH?! Maybe I'm a bad guide. I know, I know, Robin's talked trash about my guiding skills, but I've gotten better! Seriously, I have lol! I don't know, maybe I'm confused, maybe I missed the memo that courtesy went out with last years fashion. Call me crazy, but doesn't it just make plain ol' good sense for someone to go around if they see someone is blind? Or were we supposed to move out of the way? Oh pardon me sighted person, although you see us and are walking directly in our path, let me guide my blind sister around you at the last minute to not inconvience you. All you, sighted person, had to do was take a few steps over to the side, while I have to direct my sister to go to the right, keep going, oh wait, hold on here's some more ding dongs who don't want to move out of the way...geez! My thinking is whoever has to make the less effort should move. If I see someone with a stroller, in a wheelchair, that's blind, on crutches, or someone who has shopped until they can't shop anymore and has more bags than they know they need, etc., I'm moving out of the way because it takes less effort for me to move than to make them move. C'mon people, let's keep down all of the unnecessary scuffle...share the mall hall! It could just be that some people are just rude and are that way regardless and it's more noticeable when their rudeness is towards someone with different abilities. They better not be shocked when they find a lump of coal in their stockings this year, lol!

It's the holidays, so while out and about, be kind, be courteous and most of all be fabulous! Smooches!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thank you for your unwavering love.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Thank you for your undeniable devotion.
Thank you for your compassion,
which flies freely like a dove.
Thank you for your listening ear.
Thank you for your soothing voice.
Thank you for the big hugs.
But most importantly,
thank you for being so dear.

Tis’ the season to reflect back on your life and offer thanks for the blessings you have received. As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, many people are gearing up to celebrate with their family and friends. The preparing of food, feasting together, sharing of stories, and the overall quality time spent together, will create a lifetime of memories. But the reality is, the offering of thanks should not be limited to one season, it should be everyday. Even when times are hard, try to pinpoint one positive thing that has gone right. It will be difficult, but it is possible. When I was losing my eyesight, of course with the help of my family, I had to keep reminding myself to be thankful for what I do have instead of what I don’t. My challenge to you is every morning before you start your day, think about one thing that you are thankful for; it will impact your outlook on life and others. I will start by saying how thankful I am for my family. What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Innovator, A True Leader Will Forever Be Remembered

October 5, 2011 was a sad, sad day for millions of people across the world. It was a day that many knew was coming, but did not want to see for a long time. After his resignation as CEO of the Apple corporation in August, the company lost a major force behind their most thriving products, and now the world has lost him forever. Yes, you probably already know who I’m talking about; Founder and former CEO of Apple, Mr. Steve Jobs. When I heard the news, I was loss for words because Mr. Jobs was not only an innovating businessman, but he was also an empathetic, caring, strong, determined, and wise person who tried to take EVERYONE’S needs into consideration. From the development of the Mac computers, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, Apple TV, to the ever popular iPad; Mr. Jobs made great strides to guarantee satisfaction for users, including accessibility options for all.
Within the past few days, I have heard the media describe the Founder of Apple as being a perfectionist because of his detailed oriented persona. However, instead of calling him a perfectionist, I would use the word genuine to describe him. In my opinion, paying close attention to details in his work, shows that Mr. Jobs took pride in every endeavor, and did not want to leave any stone unturned. As a technical leader in the mainstream, Apple has brought more awareness to the public about the needs of assistive technology in conventional products. In a matter of fact, Apple has shown other corporations that if they take the time to be inclusive, their products can be accessible and affordable to a wider range of customers.
It can be said that every member of my immediate family has an iPhone, and it is something that I am very proud of. As a blind individual, when it comes to technology, I often feel left out and discouraged. However, thanks to Mr. Jobs, Apple has changed my technical experiences. With voiceover on my iPhone, I now have access to my email, internet, text messaging, menu options, and a range of applications. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Mr. Jobs for giving me the opportunity to enjoy my life in the world of technology, by utilizing the products you invented. Mr. Jobs is an inspiration to many, including myself. He has impacted my life beyond measure on a professional and personal level. Through adversity, Mr. Jobs shined. Mr. Jobs once said, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” Well done Mr. Jobs, well done! Your legacy will live on forever. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Is your bag packed? Do you have your passport? Did you remember your imagination? Are you geared up for a sense of adventure? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you are ready to set out on a trip with UK traveler and author, Tony Giles, so let’s go! We’re going to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Thailand. In his nonfiction book titled, “Seeing the World My Way”, Tony takes us with him on his journey as he navigates through various obstacles within these countries. While reading the book, very descriptive details may cause one to feel as though they were there with Tony in person.
“Seeing the World My Way” offers a unique and interesting perspective from across the globe. What is so unique about the book? Well, Tony Giles not only went on a solo journey across various countries, but he did it all while being completely blind and eighty percent deaf. It is apparent that Tony Giles has no limits when it comes to conquering his dreams, leaving no stone unturned. For example, I asked Tony to describe himself in one word, and he replied by saying, “The one word to describe me would be 'Alive'! I want to live life to the full, do everything, feel it, do it, taste it... My mind is constantly active, learning and dreaming, searching for the next challenge.” Wow, Tony Giles is taking advantage of all the opportunities life has to offer.
In addition to creating opportunities for himself, Tony would like others to realize that their dreams can be possible as well. Specifically, Tony stated that, “No matter their disability, problems or challenges’, they can be overcome, anything is possible and life is for living.” I agree with Tony, disability does not mean inability!
After reading the book, my favorite part was chapter two titled, “The Question Why?” When it comes to traveling, some people are baffled why a completely blind and partially deaf person would want to travel if they can’t see what’s around them. Tony answers his spectators by asking in return, “why not?” In fact, sight is not a requirement for traveling, one can compensate through the other senses; sense of smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Traveling is all about the person taking in the culture around them, which can be done in various ways, as seen in Tony’s book. In the interview, Tony stated that, “As I matured and travelled further, I realized my blindness enabled me to do more, not less. It gave me a view of the world vastly different from other travelers. It enabled me to overcome other fears and emotions by discovering that being blind didn't stop me from participating. My blindness allowed me to use my other senses and train them to their maximum.” Tony not only trained his senses to the maximum, but he’s also helping others learn how to do so through his experiences.
To learn more about Tony Giles and his book, “Seeing the World My Way”, check out: http://www.tonythetraveller.com/ All proceeds from the book will go to a charity helping those with Muscular Dystrophy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Get Your Bowl On....

Could you imagine not being able to do something that you once enjoyed but were unable to do now or thought you were unable to do? Until recently, it had been over 9 years since Robin had went bowling...9 years ago she lost her eyesight. What does losing her eyesight have to do with her not being able to bowl? Good question, I asked her the same thing! Once you become blind is there a document stating all of the things that you can no longer do??? Um no..so we're going bowling!!! We went out and had an awesome time...although Robin did get beat by her 9 yr old niece, Imani (no need to feel bad, Robin's game has always sucked, it's actually better now that she's blind) smooches, love you Robin!!! Anyway, Robin got familiar with where everything was and we counted how many steps she needed to take before she threw the ball, and after a couple of runs, girlfriend had it down and was doing her thing! She got a couple of spares, but it wasn't enough to keep up with Imani, that little one is competitive!

"Disability is not a brave struggle or 'courage in the face of adversity'. Disability is an art. It's an ingenious why to live." Neil Marcus

For more information on blind bowling check out the American Blind Bowling Association @ www.abba1951.org

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Behind Closed Doors: Politicians and Disability

When you were on TV. for everyone to see, you promised to represent my community to your fullest capability. Evoking equality was your mission to be, breaking through the barriers, giving means for more opportunity. But, what happens when the cameras are turned off and no one is watching, will you still care or will you pretend that you are not there?
During campaign seasons, we hear politicians make promises to their constituents, to which some they keep and others they do not. Like any other person, politicians have their public and private selves to which they choose how/when to reveal to others. Some individual’s public self is not that different from their private persona; whereas, for some, they may be as different as night and day.
You have probably heard of the recent allegations about Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, brought upon by her former aid Mona Floyd. For those of you who have not heard, Ms. Floyd, who is visually impaired, claims that there is a discrepancy between Representative Jackson Lee’s public support for people with disabilities and her private actions. Ms. Floyd alleges that the representative had no regard for her disability by talking about the impairment in a derogatory manner and not implementing necessary accommodations for Ms. Floyd to accomplish tasks. I do not know the exact particulars of what did and did not occur because I was not there, but I do know that if the allegations are substantiated, then it is unfortunate.
When hearing this story it made me think back on some instances when I felt dismissed by my local representatives in conversations and volunteer opportunities. A representative is supposed to embody ALL of their constituents. We are ALL human beings and everyone deserves a chance to succeed. When selecting/supporting your politicians, I urge you to ponder these questions: Where does he/she stand on the issues of people with a disability? How does he/she interact with their disabled constituents? Does he/she have any staff members or volunteers who have a disability, if so how do they interact with them? Please let us know what you think and remember, disability does not mean inability!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feeling Like a Good Scream?

To say that I love listening to movies would be an understatement. Sight or not, I enjoy listening to the various storylines and guessing what is going to happen next. My favorite genres are comedy, drama, action, documentaries, romance, and some horror movies (key word being some). One particular horror movie that I enjoy listening to and have followed for years is the “Scream” sequences. The famous tag line, “What is your favorite scary movie?” arose in the mid 1990’s when I was in middle school. During the following five to six years, the creators of the “Scream” sagas produced two sequels, to which all I have seen. It wasn’t until recently, about ten years later that there was another “Scream” movie released.
For me, a lot has happened in my life within these last ten years, one of them being my sight loss. During the three previous “Scream” movies I had my sight, but this time around I would not. With this in mind, I not only had a high anticipation for the movie, but also curiosity of what it would be like from a blind perspective. Such questions that arose for me were, would I be able to follow along without my sight? And would I be able to visualize images in my head from past experiences?
Once the movie began, it was a little confusing to follow because unlike the previous sequels, “Scream 4” was switching between three different storylines. My Mom had to continuously describe to me what was occurring. Although, the sound effects were great, I would have been lost without narration. There goes that extra $3.50 charge for the sound effects. LOL. I tried my hardest to visualize aspects/plots from the earlier “Scream” movies to help guide me through the various scenes, but it didn’t work. My expectations were set high, and unfortunately I was let down. Therefore, I concluded that the “Scream” movies are a lot more visual than I thought. What a world of difference another perspective can make.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the Mist of Darkness

Grey clouds begin to fill the light blue sky.
Where is the light? It can hardly be seen.
Dark, gloomy, and scary to some it might be,
leaving room for questions; such as why?
It remains to be true; for there is no answer that will appease.
I cannot see myself or you.
Please do not cry or have sympathy,
because in life, there are no guarantees.
Darkness is a part of reality,
and whatever the case may be,
it will not limit your possibilities.

This past month, my niece has been asking me a lot about darkness as it pertains to blindness. In my niece’s point of view, as a child who sleeps with a night light, darkness is daunting. My niece and I have lots of conversations about my blindness. One day she said, “It must be scary being in the dark all of the time, I guess you are use to it.” In actuality, when I initially lost my sight, I was terrified of being in complete darkness because that meant I would not be able to physically see what was going on around me.
Over time, my fears decimated; I used other ways to compensate for my vision loss. Such ways include, but are not limited to paying more attention to the sounds, smells, perceptions, etc. With this in mind, it was easy for me to calmly reassure my niece that over time, being in the dark is not as frightening as it seems. Darkness can leave a lot to a person’s imagination. I have said this in past posts, and I truly believe it; darkness allows a person to look beyond the physical and see what’s within.
These past nine years, I have listened to my niece grapple with my blindness by asking questions and trying to understand what is being explained to her. I am a proud Aunt because I’m amazed how well my niece has adjusted to my situation. My niece seeks to inform others, such as her peers, about blindness. In this post, I have given my niece’s and my perspectives on darkness. So, what does darkness mean to you?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stepping Outside of the Box Part 2

In late October, I made a pledge to all of you. I promised that if you find a way to step outside of your comfort zone, I would step outside of mine by participating in a karate tournament. Well, I held up my end of the bargain. On February 12, 2011, I took part in the Friendship Cup Tournament hosted by Colorado Budokan. The type of routine that I performed was the Kata, which is fighting against an imaginary opponent. The type of kata that I performed was the heian shodan. There are various forms of kata to be learned, but when beginning karate, a person starts off with the heian shodan. In Japanese, heian means peaceful mind shodan means first level.
To say that I was nervous about performing my kata in front of people at the tournament would be an understatement. To be completely honest, I had doubts about my ability to do a good job. I did not want to disappoint my sensei, who has worked so hard with me for this event. My sensei has great patience because he takes the time to go over the routine with me several times until I feel comfortable with it. So, the day of the competition, I was feeling pressure, and kept asking myself why I was participating. I not only felt nervous, but it was visible to my sensei. As I was performing my routine, my arms and legs were shaking. However, through the voice direction of my sensei, I was able to get through the tournament. YAY!
I’m glad that I did not give in to my doubts and fears, because now I can tell others about how I completed something that I never thought I would be able to conquer. Throughout the tournament, people came up to my family and me to say that I was an inspiration. Being called an inspiration warms my heart, and if I made a difference in someone’s life by participating, then it was all worth it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take A Ride With Me

I invite you to take a ride with me; a journey down memory lane. The year was 2000, and like most sixteen year olds, I was ready to take on whatever the world had to offer. On a beautiful, bright, afternoon, I could feel the nervousness in my stomach as I watched the clock draw near to 3:00 p.m. When the time came, I approached the driver’s seat of the car, and proceeded to get into the vehicle. During the whole car ride, all I could think about was hearing those three little words; which to me at that time would have a big impact on my life. When reaching the destination, I put the car in park and turned off the engine. I silently waited for the verdict as my heart started to beat at a faster pace. Then, what seemed to be like a century, I heard those words that I had been waiting so long to hear; congratulations, you passed. Yes! I, Robin Ennis, was an official licensed driver. Like the majority of sighted sixteen year olds, I was ecstatic about the thought of being able to drive myself places. However, I’m not sure my Dad felt the same joy that I had. My Dad said that he was scared about letting me loose in a big machine. LOL. For me, this was one of the happiest days of my life.
Unfortunately, four years later, after losing my eyesight, I had to surrender my license; something to me that held so much meaning. Let’s just say that was a hard day, and my blindness became more of a reality. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to drive a car again, but what I do know is that I still have those priceless moments that no one can take away from me.
If you’re wondering what sparked this trip down memory lane, and even if you’re not, I’ll tell you anyway. Saturday, January 29, 2011 is a monumental time for the world, especially many in the blind community. It is the unveiling of the adapted car for blind individuals. The car is configured with several technological features that would allow blind individuals to drive without sighted assistance. In fact, at the unveiling in Daytona, there will be a blind individual test driving the car in front of thousands. To learn more about the unveiling and developers of the car, check out http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=683. Let me know what you think. By the way, should I give it a try?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beautifully Blind, Inc. Grant Applications....

Beautifully Blind, Inc. is now accepting applications for 2011 Optic Atrophy Research Grants and Assistive Technology Grants.

Optic Atrophy Research Grant

Optic atrophy or damage to the optic nerve is a widespread eye condition that affects many people across the world. According to the National Institutes of Health, optic atrophy is tissue death of the nerve; ultimately causing permanent blindness. There are many causes that can result in a person being inflicted with this life altering eye condition. Such causes can include but are not limited to poor blood flow, trauma, shock, glaucoma, brain disorders, and sometimes genetics (National Institutes of Health, 2010). If not controlled, optic atrophy can not only diminish a person’s vision, but also the ability to have light perception. There is no current treatment for optic atrophy due to its irreversible nature.

Due to the lack of treatment options that are readily available to people with optic atrophy, research is crucial in order for sight to be restored. Currently, in the United States there are several researchers/scientists whose mission is to find methods to rejuvenate the optic nerve. Such research includes stem cells, gene therapy, and implants.

The awarded grants from Beautifully Blind, Inc. will allow the organization to assist in these research efforts through financial contributions. Beautifully Blind, Inc. will award financial assistance to organizations that are making strides in trying to find treatment for optic atrophy. Research will create understanding, and understanding will hopefully one day lead to a cure.

In order to be selected for consideration, organizations applying for a grant must:

1) Qualify under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
2) The organization’s mission must be in the area of optic atrophy research.
3) The organization must have a proposed plan of action.
4) There needs to be a level of collaboration/partnership with others for the benefit of advancing optic atrophy research.

The level of leadership the organization possesses within their community will also be taken into consideration. Any of the applicants who do not meet the above criteria, will not be selected for consideration.

Assistive Technology Grant

Assistive technology devices can often be the deciding factor of whether or not an individual succeeds in their educational, personal or work like. Beautifully Blind, Inc. provides funding for assistive technology. The application will need to be supported by an assistive technology assessment establishing the requested product meets the client needs. Applications must be accompanied with a recommendation letter from a third party such as a welfare worker, social worker, or a group that supports the blind or similar that can verify the need and financial status. Persons eligible to apply must have a family income less that $50,000.00 and cash assets less than $20,000.00. Previous grant recipients are not assured of future funding. To ensure the grant is used for the intended purpose, grants service will pay the product supplier directly rather than providing cash grants. Grant applicants must be legally blind and a resident of the United States. The application will be available starting January 1st of every year that funding is available. The deadline to apply will be June 1st. The applications will be reviewed by the Grants Committee and recipients will be notified by August 1st. Grants will be awarded at the Annual Gala held in October.

There is a $25.00 application fee.

To request an application, please send an email to info@beautifullyblind.org with Optic Atrophy Research Grant or Assistive Technology Grant in the subject line.

These applications will be available via www.beautifullyblind.org soon.

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
Helen Keller