People who are blind/visually impaired (B/VI) may do things differently, but different can still be effective. With support from family, the community, and educators, people who are B/VI can live quality lives.
Here are two success stories from people who are B/VI:
My name is Dan Kelley. I am a father of 2 boys, teacher, a professor at two universities, and have a technology consulting business. I was born totally blind due to my mother having Rubella when I was born. I grew up in Alabama and attended the Alabama School for the Blind for 10 years. I also attended a public school in my hometown for one year. When I was a Senior in high school, my family moved from Alabama to Akron, Ohio. I finished my high school education at Kenmore High. The following year, I enrolled at The Ohio State University to study music education. I had some wonderful supportive professors, made great friends, and had many tremendous experiences. Most memorable was trying out for the OSU marching band. I did not make the cut, but I learned so much, far beyond marching and music. After graduating in 94, I was a substitute teacher with Columbus City schools for 3 and a half years. I became interested in teaching students with visual impairments during this time. I decided to apply at the Ohio State School for the Blind and obtained my master’s degree in education with a teacher of students with visual impairment license from Ohio State University. Countless opportunities to do great things came my way over the last 20 years or so. I led the OSSB marching panthers to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. In 2014 my goalball team won the NCASB championship. Many small teacher moments turned into big accomplishments for my students. Today, I enjoy teaching technology, being a proud dad, doing all kinds of activities with my sons including boy scouts, sports, homework, and teaching them to be respectful and hardworking young men. I try to be the sum total of all the good people and experiences I have had during my lifetime. I believe you get out of something what you put into it. I believe that life can be hard, but great things may come at the cost of hard work. Having a strong work ethic, a willingness to help others, and having drive are my keys to being successful.
My name is Noah Beckman and I was born with Leber congenital amaurosis. This is a degenerative retinal disorder which results in profound legal blindness both in visual field and acuity. It was discovered that I had vision issues shortly after I was born. My parents took me to a party in which there were children of a similar age to me. They noticed that the children were making eye contact with others, but I was not. I was looking at lights instead of people’s faces.
My family greatly supported me and expected me to succeed. My parents encouraged me to participate in athletic and social events with my sighted peers so that I may learn to be more comfortable in social situations. They knew that social skills and building relationships were an important component of success.
My school district did a decent job accommodating my needs so that I could have access and participate in school. It helps that I was a motivated learner- from orientation and mobility, to technology, to braille, to my typical school subjects. However, it’s challenging to be motivated all the time. Thankfully, my parents were there to support me when my motivation wasn’t high. They encouraged me to advocate for myself and to always fight hard to overcome obstacles.
My family’s expectations, and the skills I learned at school propelled me towards attending college at the Ohio State University. I graduated with honors in 2015 with a four-year finance degree. I secured full time employment as a bank examiner with the US treasury department, where I ensure that our money and information are safe and sound in banks. I am in my fifth year with the agency. At 27 years old, I am by no means a finished product. And yet, because of my self-determination, and my strong parental involvement growing up, I was able to achieve the accomplishments I have today. Raising a child with a visual impairment may seem challenging, but if you embrace your child’s uniqueness and have high expectations, they are more likely to succeed.