Are you -- or someone you know -- experiencing vision loss?
If so, and you need or want some help, be comforted -- you've found a friend.
If I can help you, a family member, or a friend in adjusting to blindness or low vision, I'd be glad to. I'll always help if I can.
I lost the majority of my sight in 1993. I was in my early twenties when it happened. The one overwhelming theme I can say I've recognized again and again in the years since is that losing your sight is far from the end of the world.
Truly, it's only a 'tragedy' if you let it be.
"Inside the ring or out,
ain't nothing wrong with going down.
It's staying down that's wrong."
-- Muhammad Ali, boxing champion
I've come to realize my loss of sight is a blessing in many ways. My life is better off due to learning some lessons I may never have had a chance to if not for my loss of sight.
Truly, I lost my sight -- but gained my 'vision.'
"When one door closes, another opens.
But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door
that we don't see the one that has opened for us."
-- Alexander Graham Bell
Some Resources for You
Below are some of the resources I've gathered over the years, which I've found to be most helpful to myself as well as others who have lost enough sight so that they are now blind or who have low-vision ("legally-blind").
National Federation of the Blind
-- Not merely another organization 'for' the blind, this is an organization 'of' the blind. It's the organization that helped me get back on my feet and realize life could still be lived, and lived far more independently and productively than most people think -- when thinking about blindness. Thanks to the simple truth behind the NFB's philosophy on life and blindness, I've come to realize I certainly can thrive, rather than merely survive -- blind or not.
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
-- Part of the U.S. Library of Congress. A free lending library program of Braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. (Just because someone can't read print anymore doesn't mean they have to stop reading.)
Blinded Veterans Association
-- The BVA says there are more than 100,000 blinded veterans in the USA, with 5,000 more losing their sight each year. If you know such a vet, or are that veteran losing your sight, this organization can help (so can the rest of these resources, of course).
"Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals.
I never had a crisis that didn't make me stronger."
-- Lou Holtz (football coach, broadcaster)
NFB-NEWSLINE -- Newspapers by Phone
-- Anyone who cannot read printed newspapers due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB-NEWSLINE. It's a toll-free, free service where you can choose from hundreds of newspapers and dozens of magazines from across America to enjoy with your morning coffee or tea. (Again I say, just because you now struggle or are unable to read regular print, it does not mean you have to give up reading -- books OR your daily newspaper.)
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
-- The AFB says that age-related vision loss and blindness affects about 6.5 million Americans age 55 and older. It also says that there are mor than 25 Million Americans of all ages who live with visual impairments & blindness.
World Blind Union
-- For those of you who are not in the USA, who may be in need of help in your country and region. Blindness organizations around the world are members of the World Blind Union (WBU).
U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)
-- Check out this organization to find proof that it's not blindness that stops you from achieving your goals and dreams. Plenty of sports for blind athletes to compete in listed here.
"When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind,
not with it." -- Henry Ford
NFB E-mail Lists On Various Aspects of Life & Blindness
-- The National Federation of the Blind's (NFB) Listhost. With an abundance of e-mail discussion lists on the various categories of life, involving blindness and low-vision. Join the lists to network and learn. You can get help with school, careers, rehabilitation, advocacy, or just get tips and advice on how to handle most any situation you'll come up against as a blind or low-vision individual.
Descriptive Video Service (DVS)
-- 'DVS' carefully describes the visual elements of a movie -- the action, characters, locations, costumes and sets -- without interfering with the movie's dialogue or sound effects. So you get to follow all the action!
-- Check your local library. My community library in the next city over (Akron, OH) has more than 100 Descriptive Videos that I can enjoy. Yours might already have some, too.
-- There is still some great info on DVS on the WGBH page above, despite their not selling the videos anymore.
- Though WGBH has stopped selling DVS videos, you can download many of the audio-tracks of whole movies, online, often for free (see below).
Check Out Free Downloadable DVS Movies (just the audio, here)
-- Check out a 'DVS' Movie for yourself to see how great they are. BlindMiceMart.com has a ton of DVS movies in mp3 format. They add more regularly, too. Last I checked, they had over 600 on the main 'Movie Vault' page alone -- free to download. Many more, all alphabetized in their archive.
Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, curiosities or fears regarding blindness or vision loss, please feel free to contact me (my contact information is below).
Blindness (and low-vision) is only a showstopper if you let it be.
I can put you in touch with blind kids, blind college students, blind parents, blind grandparents and seniors, blind teachers, blind professors, blind doctors, blind attorneys, blind workers, blind entrepreneurs, blind athletes of all skill levels, blind cooks and chefs, or blind writers and journalists.
Vision loss is far from the end of life -- unless you make that your choice. Truly, it is simply living life a bit differently. You'll have to relearn how to do some things. But you can. Yes, you can. If you want to. Because it IS your choice.