If you haven’t read this USA Today piece on what it’s like to be visually impaired, you should. Every year or almost every year, my friend Mickey Damelio includes me in his Florida State University class called the Blindness Experience, which he has designed over the years. I feel lucky to have gone to graduate school with Mickey at Florida State University. He became one of my first friends from the program when he asked me to attend the free MTV on Campus concert with his wife and him. He is also the guy who introduced me to Paralympic sports and goalball.
We were in a class on the psychosocial aspects of blindness taught by Lynda Jones when I shared one of the big moments in my adjustment processs from my undergraduate days at East Carolina University. I reenacted a moment where I hit the bottom of a severe depression while dealing with my vision loss and other issues. When I speak about it, I get a little emotional and a little sweaty. I am honest about where I came from, and it is helped to shape who I am today. The path we travel shapes our feelings, perceptions, and our outcomes. I am grateful to be able to share my story with Mickey's class about my adjustment. More than that, I am grateful to share about my successes and those of other individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
As the AFB CareerConnect program manager, I get to know a lot of successful people who are blind or visually impaired. We are so much more than our disability. We are financial analysts, teachers, lawyers, bankers, computer programmers, salespeople, nurses, parents, athletes, and much more.
The more people are aware and understand that blindness is not the end of the world—that people who are blind or visually impaired are skilled, intelligent, and resourceful—the more likely someone is going to hire someone who is blind or visually impaired. In that way, Mickey is much more than a professor; he is an evangelist about the differences and similarities of all people and individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
If you are a student at Florida State University, you should register for this class or reach out to Mickey directly. He is changing the perception of blindness at Florida State one class at a time.
If you want information on the adjustment process and vision resources, check out AFB’s VisionAware website today. If you want to find out about what careers people who are blind or visually impaired are successful in, check out AFB CareerConnect.