International Guide Dog Day


Happy International Guide Dog Day. This is a very special day for guide dog handlers and their guides across the United States. We honor and cherish our guide dogs each and every day but today is a very special day to honor them. I would like to share some Guide Dog 101 information with you in honor of today. This post is intended for people who do not have  lot of knowledge about guide dogs but also those who are very active in the guide dog/blind community.

Makiko, a black labrador retriever, is photographed at her level next to her handler, Jessica. makiko is in harness and her “do not pet me” sign is visible. Makiko is focussed straight ahead and is not paying attention to the photographer.

Fact of the Day: Only about 2% of people with visual impairments travel with a guide dog. To me this is WILD. I do understand people’s reasoning for NOT wanting a guide dog, such as the additional responsibility, attention, and costs associated with a guide dog, but to me the pros so outweigh the cons. I also understand that there are many very confident cane travelers out there. While I CAN use a cane if I needed to and would be able to safely navigate my environment, it is just NOT my cup of tea. There are many reasons for this but I believe the biggest two are: 1) I like that my dog moves me AROUND obstacles, as opposed to the cane just finds them and 2) Having a guide dog breaks a lot of the social awkwardness that society tends to have when greeting or socializing with a blind person. Choosing the guide dog lifestyle is a huge decision but it is one that i hope more and more blind people choose.

Guide dogs mean so much to their handlers: independence, freedom, safe travel, confidence, ability to travel gracefully, peace, partnership, companionship, ability to “live more, our best friends, and our family. We establish such a deep connection and bond with our guide dog, it’s indescribable.

Guide dogs have many great skills – helping their handler travel in a straight line from point A to point B (something I had some trouble with when using a cane), stopping for all changes in elevation, such as stairs and curbs, stopping for overhead obstacles, such as tree limbs, and avoiding obstacles in their path. They are also taught to be “intelligently disobedient.” What does that mean? If the handler gives the dog a command and the dog determines that it is unsafe to obey that command, the dog will disobey and not listen. Many times the dog will make another decision to replace that command but still accomplish the same goal. Guide dogs also of course have to have impeccable manners because they go practically everywhere with us. I can’t tell you how much it makes me smile when others tell me that they didn’t realize a guide dog was in the room or under my feet/table because she is so well behaved and quiet. This is how it should be.

Guide dogs work hard but also play hard. To keep up the bond and help the dog continue to love their lifestyle, guide dog handlers give their dogs lots of opportunity to play and just be a DOG (a well behaved dog though) when that harness comes off.

Most guide dogs work for around 8-10 years. They are usually 1.5 years old to 2 years old when they graduate guide dog school so around 10-12 years old, most guide dogs retire. At Guide Dogs for The Blind, the handler has the option of keeping the retired guide when he/she retires even if they are getting a new guide, giving the retired guide to a family member or close friend, giving the guide back to his/her puppy raiser, adopting him/her out, or giving her back to Guide Dogs for The Blind as they have a long waiting list of people that love to adopt retired guides because they are so well behaved. If I don’t keep Makiko, I plan to give her to my Mom. Makiko and my Mom have a very special bond (yet the bond doesn’t interfere with our work together). My sister has claimed my second retired guide! 🙂

Guide dogs help their handlers with travel, but there is a huge emotional aspect to them as well. The companionship and loyalty of a guide dog is so strong. When I have rough days, Makiko, loving on her, and just sitting with her is one of my biggest coping strategies. She can tell when I or someone I love isn’t feeling well or happy and comes to give us LOTS of attention. (Beware of all the kisses!) As many of you know, I graduated with Makiko 2 months after my father passed away so Makiko has been an extra level of companionship and comfort for me through the grieving process.

In addition to helping our emotional well-being through their companionship, when you get a guide dog you have an instant support system and community. The sense of community with guide dog handlers has been one of my many favorite parts of becoming a guide dog handler. Guide Dogs for The Blind is one of the only guide dog schools that has an Alumni Association and the bonds that handlers form because of this is so powerful. However, guide dog handlers from across the world also come together on social media and the internet and have powerful discussions about guide dogs and issues surrounding our community. It is an honor to be a part of. I’m working with another guide dog handler from Houston, Vince Morvillo, to start a Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni Chapter in Texas. We should be official in June! As I’ve mentioned, the community of guide dog handlers is very strong and very therapeutic. It only makes sense that the GREAT state of Texas has an Alumni Chapter.. did you know that according to NFB (National Federation of the Blind) Texas is one of the largest states of people with visual impairments?

It also only makes sense that we have one of the GREATEST groups of puppy raisers, Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers (LSGDR), that is growing exponentially!!!!! I know I’ve said it a thousand times before but we really wouldn’t have the guide dogs that we do without such devoted puppy raisers and Guide Dogs for The Blind staff that supervise and help train these puppy raisers. These puppy raisers are also great advocates for the service dog and blind communities!

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Below is additional information about guide dogs that I would like to share with you:

Training:
The different schools and handlers have many different ways of training or reinforcing their dog’s behavior, such as using food rewards, positive reinforcement, collar corrections, clicker training, and a Gentle Leader/headcollar. Please note that guide dog handlers are trained in the proper way to reward their dog and positively reinforce good behavior when the dog is working well and behaving properly, but also how to safely and effectively correct the dog when they are not. Doing a collar correction right will not hurt the dog but will get the message across. The same applies with a Gentle Leader/head harness. Many think that these are muzzles, which they are not. I put one on Makiko this last weekend when we were around over a hundred dogs and it naturally just keeps her attention on me a little more but also gives me a little more control. She can still eat, drink, open her mouth, etc., with one on.

(I would like to think that no guide dog handler is abusing their dog with corrections but of course if you suspect abuse or neglect, please look on their harness as there is usually identifying information about what school the guide is from and call the school to let them help take care of it.)

Feeding and Relieving:
Guide dogs are on a specific feeding and relieving schedule to help make their handler’s day go smoothly and so that the guide dog doesn’t need to go to the bathroom during an important meeting or event. Most guide dogs are fed and given water at specific times each day, and of course given additional water as needed. Because of this routine, they have specific relieving habits that make it pretty easy on the handler to schedule into their day. This is another reason why it is important for others to not give food or treats to a guide dog because it will interfere with this.

Pedestrian Travel:
Because guide dog handlers can’t drive, they often travel extensively on foot. With the help of their guide dog, they can safely lighted intersections and streets. It is important that the guide dog pay VERY close attention when doing this so that they can pull their handler out of the way if needed. Please remember that guide dogs and their handlers have right of way ALWAYS.

Sighted Guide:
There are some situations when handlers may choose not to work their guide and heel their dog beside them. If this is the case, the handler will ask to stand on the person’s left side and take their arm. The handler will take the arm of the sighted person. They will usually grab right above the elbow. Please don’t try and drag a blind person with or without a guide dog. That’s not fun for anyone. 🙂 Please also do NOT grab the harness handle or leash from the blind handler. This will totally confuse the dog and the handler and could potentially cause a disastrous situation. Using your voice is much more helpful to help give them appropriate directions.

Access:
Guide dogs are required access at public accommodations by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 36.302(c). Public accommodations are required to modify their policies, practices, and procedures to permit people who are blind or disabled to be accompanied by working dogs anywhere. There are some places that aren’t open to the general public, such as operating rooms and kitchen, that guide dogs aren’t required to have access to, for health and sanitation purposes. A good way that somebody taught me to remember it, is if I’m allowed to walk in there with my tennis shoes on or other regular shoes on, my guide is allowed to walk in there. For example, Makiko wouldn’t be able to walk into an operating room because it is a sterile environment and it is not open to the general public.

If the service dog gets out of control and is having relieving problems inside the establishment, growling, barking excessively, etc., the owner or management has the right to ask the dog/handler to leave the facility as it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The handler is required to be permitted back into the establishment without the service dog on the premises if this situation occurs.

Hotels/Lodging:
Hotels and other places that allow people to stay their for a fee are not allowed to charge a pet/animal deposit or surcharge for the guide dog, as they aren’t a pet after all. (This is when it helps to think of them as medical equipment, not an animal). However, if the guide dog causes damage to the hotel room or furniture, the hotel IS allowed to charge the handler for the cost of repair if it is their practice to charge non-disabled people if they damage the property as well.

Fair Housing Act (FHA):
Landlords are required to make exceptions to their “no pets policy” to allow a service dog handler to have their service dog live with them. This is called a “reasonable accommodation.” (Under the Fair Housing Act, they define service dogs under the “assistance animal” umbrella and emotional support animals (ESAs) are also under this umbrella). Pet restrictions and charges for animals do NOT apply to assistance animals – a landlord cannot charge a pet deposit for a guide dog. A landlord cannot deny a request for a reasonable accommodation based on a dog’s weight or breed, even if they don’t allow normal pets to be above a certain weight or to live on the premises if they are a certain breed. Landlords CAN require you to provide a letter from a doctor or therapist, depending on the type of service animal, documenting the need.

Taxicabs/Uber/Lyft: 
Public transportation companies CANNOT discriminate against you and deny you because of your service dog, even if they are using their own car because they are providing a service to the public. The only exception to this is if the person has severe allergies to dogs as this could potentially be covered under the ADA as well and in that case many times are required to have a note on file with their company documenting this and are required to secure another ride for the passenger with the guide dog/service dog.

Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) :
Guide dogs are permitted to accompany their handler in the cabin on flights. The dog is allowed to accompany their dog in any seat the handler chooses, except emergency exit rows and if the dog is going to stick out into the aisle and pose a safety hazard.

Distractions:
Makiko is very cute and lovable, as are most guide dogs. Depending on the day, Makiko may soak up the love or if she is particularly focused, she may not. However, like most dogs, if you greet them excitedly or make kissy noises, guide dogs may very well get distraction. Distraction can be deadly for a handler, especially if the blind handler isn’t aware their guide dog is distracted to be more aware or to correct it. If a guide dog is safely helping its handler cross the street and watch for traffic, or navigating a particularly environment, and the guide dog gets distracted it might not pull that blind handler out of the way of a smart car that is silent or might not pay attention to that curb and send the blind handler tripping over the curb into the street, landing on his/her face. It’s pretty dangerous. It’s also just an invasion of personal space. Guide dogs are an extension of their blind handler. Many call them “medical equipment,” which they technically are, just in dog form. Would you go up and put your hands all over someone’s glasses? No, of course not, that would be weird and likely harassment. I know guide dogs are living creatures and a lot more adorable than a pair of glasses but they are both pieces of medical equipment that allow a person to function. ABC News posted a great video today in honor of International Guide Dog Day and they quoted a statistic that read: “A survey found 89% of handlers’ dogs have been distracted by members of the public.” The message from the video was “Look but don’t touch.” (or make sounds/attract the guide dogs attention).

It IS okay to ask a handler to pet their dog. A lot of handlers, including myself, enjoy introducing their guide to you. Most handlers will just make sure that their guide is calm and under control, especially if they are in harness. This will help the dog not to become solicitous when it is working and in harness later.
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Monarch – FLY FLY FAR FAR AWAY (from Monarch Dental)


Get it? Monarch butterfly — fly fly away? Well, I thought it was funny at least.

This is a great story for Blindness Awareness Month.. and it just happened a few days ago. There were so many very bizarre and inappropriate things that happened during this story that you would think I was making it up. But I’m not.

About a week ago, I woke up with this really annoying feeling like there was food stuck between my teeth in the back of my mouth. I tried to brush it out, but it was still there. I then realized that I have this flap of gum that is now coming up over my last tooth on the lower left side and is swollen.. very swollen.

I hadn’t found a local dentist since I started this job because my old dentist whom I LOVE (Dr. Chamberlain in Dallas) unfortunately doesn’t accept my new employer’s dental insurance. One of my co-workers recommended Monarch Dental and I found out another trusted co-worker also goes to Monarch Dental, but another location. So I decided to check it out. I went online and filled out their appointment request and was called the next day to make the appointment. Their forms online are not accessible to screen readers and I was very busy so I wasn’t able to complete the forms prior to the appointment.

The dentist’s office is in the mall so my driver walked in with me to help me find it. I walked up to the front desk and the lady tells me to sign in. Okay, it’s a big enough sign in sheet that I can handle that by myself (with my face pretty close to the piece of paper). She then tells me to sit down, I do so. About 30 seconds later, she asks me to come back up and get New Patient paperwork. I ask her if the forms are in any larger print because I’m visually impaired and she says no, and then goes on to the next client in the waiting room. So I sit down and bring out my phone to help me enlarge the documents (I didn’t have my portable CCTV with me.. gotta start carrying that around with me more). While I’m very tediously balancing a pen, a phone, holding the clipboard on my lap, and have Makiko’s leash between my legs, the lady asks me about 2 minutes in to bring up my insurance card and Drivers License. She then starts arguing with me that she can’t accept a State ID and that she has to have a Drivers License. I tell her I can’t drive because I am blind/have a disability, but she says “I’m sorry, I still can’t take this,” so then we go back and forth about this, with a waiting room full of people, and then finally someone else comes up and tells this lady that they CAN accept it. Okay, great, I can finally go sit down. So I go sit down and continue filling out the papers and she calls me up again.. this time there are several other customers at the desk so I have to wiggle my way around them to get to her, she gives me my insurance card back and says she’ll give me my ID back in a bit.. okay, great.. thanks.. I sit down once again. I finish filling out this paperwork (finally!) and go back up to the desk. She then starts asking me all of these questions about my medical history which I filled out on this form with EVERYBODY IN THE ROOM. Can you talk about HIPAA? Okay so eventually I said I would answer any other questions with the dentist. I went and sat back down, with my ID.

Makiko and I wait patiently and then a Dental Assistant comes out to get us. She doesn’t introduce herself, just immediately starts talking about Makiko. We go back to the x-ray room and we barely get in the open doorway and she disappears… I couldn’t find a chair so I tell Makiko to find a chair, and she does so.. good girl! So I sit down and she comes back about 10 minutes later and starts taking x-rays… I got an x-ray jacket for Makiko too. Mind you, she still hasn’t introduced herself. While taking the x-rays she starts asking me super personal questions, “Why do you have a dog?” “Aren’t you really depressed because you are blind?” “How did your parents cope with your diagnosis?” If this were the time and the place for these questions, they are great questions, but 10 minutes after I’ve met you and you haven’t even introduced yourself — I’m not that comfortable to answer these. I can’t remember what I said but I gave her very short answers. We then go into the dental room. I sit there and wait and wait and wait. I’m already pretty frustrated at this point and texting my Mom that I’m not sure I will be coming back here… and then all of a sudden I hear this really loud scream from right behind me…

It was the DENTIST..

Screaming

At Makiko.

Oh dear goodness. Makiko didn’t move, but she did look up at her. Apparently this Dentist is really scared of dogs, so she went around the border of the room until she was in the opposite corner of Makiko (where I couldn’t really see her from the chair) and told me “I’m kind of scared of dogs, so I’m just going to stand here.. is that okay?” What do you say to that? I wasn’t really sure what to say so I just kind of gave her this “uhhhh” look. She then started talking to the Dental Assistant. I then ask in a very sweet tone, “If she is so scared of dogs, is there someone else that probably should assist me today?” The Dental Assistant replied, “No she’s the only one.” (Notice, I’m still calling them “the dental assistant” and “the dentist,” because I still have yet to be introduced to either of them or learn their names. I probably should have asked but I was too caught up in all the other BS to really care at that moment). So the dentist proceeds with her exam, with no bed side manner, not understanding that I can’t see what she’s talking about, and then tells me that I need a little dental work, she won’t do a cleaning today, I’ll have to come back for 3 or 4 different treatments, they are going to do nothing today (not a cleaning or anything), she doesn’t know what the mass is but is going to “watch it for a week or so,” (Meaning she expected me to come back within this time frame) and refer me to an oral surgeon if necessary “because it could be oral cancer.”

Great. You all know how much I hate that ‘c” word.

Okay, so let’s re-cap. I had a horrible registration experience, was asked very personal questions about my disability and adjustment to disability that I have never been asked directly before, had a dentist scream in my ear and examine me from odd angles, nobody introduced themselves, nobody reviewed the xrays that were taken, and then the office manager/treatment coordinator came in.

This lady then proceeds to show me this really small font list of everything I need done. I tell her I can’t really read it because of my visual impairment and she says “Sorry, this is all I have.” Great. Okay, so then she says “Now you need to pay for all of this upfront to get all your treatments booked.” Um, excuse me? I’ve NEVER DONE THAT… so I used Mom as an excuse. “I need to talk this over with my Mother and then I’ll call you to schedule.” (At this point I vowed that I would never be stepping foot back in this office). The lady was nice enough and understood and then said “have a good night.” Okay, so we get out of the exam chair and escort ourselves down the hallways and out the door.

What an awful experience. I still have this really annoying and painful gum problem. I’m pretty sure it’s infected at this point, and I’m not exaggerating. I’m going to call my PCP tomorrow and see if he will order me an antibiotic over the phone. I got a new dentist recommendation and this time it isn’t a chain, it’s a family dentistry practice. I think I’ll like it much better because that’s what I’m used to. I have been taking pain medication and making sure it stays clean by brushing it well and using Listerine. I also remembered back to the days of when I had braces and had sores on my cheeks, I was given Orajel. Mom picked me up some and oh my goodness this stuff is amazing! It has provided me so much relief.

I attempted to write Monarch an email about this but there is no email to send it to. There is only a short box on the website for an inquiry. So I “Inquired” and asked who at corporate I can send a complaint to. I hope to hear back soon.

I will NEVER ever recommend Monarch to anybody. I know that they probably are very different depending on the location but I can’t ever imagine recommending this to anybody after the experience I have. And, in my job, I am often asked for recommendations.

What an experience.

Sunglasses


RP TRUTHS 070: I don't wear these sunglasses to make a fashion statement.

If you read my last blog, you know that I find a lot of these “RP Truths” to be very relevant and I can relate to them a lot. This RP Truth is particularly relevant to something I was thinking about and noticed today.

You will almost always catch me with sunglasses on my head. This is for many reasons. 1) I never know what kind of light situation I’m going to be in and these can sometimes prevent a lot of headaches caused by lights. 2) I have a pair of prescription sunglasses that can help me see certain things in very certain situations. 3) I don’t like having hair in my face and I’m very self-conscious about my hair so when I wear these, it makes me relax a little bit.. and 4) I feel a little more ‘legit” with them.

Now.. let me explain.

I am becoming increasingly more sensitive to different light situations. If it is fluorescent lighting or really bright, my eyes will easily become much more fatigued and I will often get a headache. If it is do dark, I will not be able to see anything at all. So, how I fix this is I have the normal lighting and then if it starts to bother me, I usually will put on my sunglasses (yes even indoors) and go about my day. However, most of the time this is just when I am by myself in my apartment, office, etc.

My nice pair of sunglasses is prescription so if I need to try and see something with a bit more clarity, I can put these on for a moment. However, wearing them for too long also makes my eyes fatigue and I don’t get that much benefit from prescriptions anymore, unfortunately.

My hair has always been something I have been self conscious about. Nobody really taught me how to do my hair and for most of my life, I really didn’t care. But now I’m getting to the point where I do care, and it’s frustrating that I don’t really have a lot of strengths in this area. I’m continuing to learn though and have been to a really good hair stylist who taught me a few things. But since I’ve gone most of my life without doing these things, it’s an adjustment building time into my schedule and routine to take the time to do these things. However, when I wear my sunglasses on top of my head and it pulls my hair back, it looks a lot better to me and helps me to feel more relaxed and “put together.”

Finally, I still struggle with the fact that I don’t “look” blind and that I have so much trouble because of this stereotype of what blind should look like. I’ve written a few things about this (including something for The Mighty) and plan to do another blog this month about it, but because I can make eye contact with one another, use my phone regularly, etc., people do not assume that I am really blind, even though I ALWAYS have my guide dog with me. So, sometimes it makes me feel a little more “legit” or makes me wonder if people will give me a little less hassle and a little more help if they see the sunglasses on the top of my head.

I almost never wear sunglasses on my eyes when out in public, they are almost always on my head. Sometimes I want to when the light is bad, but I just don’t.. it doesn’t feel right for some reason wearing sunglasses all of the time. However, I do know that a lot of people who are blind do wear sunglasses whenever they go out for various reasons, including deformities or visible differences in their eyes, extreme light sensitivity, etc. This has been something that I have started looking into recently- why do so many people who are blind wear sunglasses all of the time? As a blind person myself, there isn’t a rule book that comes to you that tells you how to do things or why other people with visual impairments do things one way. Part of me thinks that a lot of these people with visual impairments who wear sunglasses most of the time also do it so they don’t get so many questions. And I get that.

Today I was extremely tired. I was in pain, had taken medication, had a drink, and went to eat and then to the grocery store. My eyes were extremely light sensitive today and I just didn’t feel like dealing with all of the questions or stares. So on thew ay into the grocery store, I did put on my sunglasses. It felt a little awkward at first, but then it became pretty natural and peaceful. Within minutes of walking in the store (my boyfriend was a little behind getting a cart), several employees came up to me asking if I needed help. NEVER ONCE have they come up to me asking if I needed help when I didn’t wear sunglasses. People were a lot more willing to get out of our way, they didn’t jump in between Steven and I, they didn’t shove, etc. It was a completely different experience – just because I was wearing sunglasses and therefore they couldn’t see my eyes, and I fit more closely their perception of what “blind people look like.” This was so fascinating to me.

So back to the RP Truth, I don’t wear sunglasses (on my head or on my eyes) as a fashion statement. My sunglasses are actually very helpful.

Blindness Awareness Month- RP Truths


There is a Facebook page that I can really relate to.. It’s called “RP Truths.” This site has images, usually white text on black font, about what it is like to have RP, often humorous accounts of what happens to us in everyday life, or positive spins on our frustrations. It is owned by a young lady with RP. One can also order one of these sayings on t-shirts. I can relate to pretty much every one of the sayings; however, there are so many that I picked ones that I especially connect with to share with you all in hopes of spreading awareness this month. If you have RP or a visual impairment, chances are you will be like “YES THAT IS TOTALLY ME!” I know I was surprised the first time I read them about how strongly I connected with them. 

    
This has been something that I have long joked about and always amuses me. Now given, I can still see a little bit and I can follow the sound of your voice but that leaves things open for a lot of embarrassing situations and errors. Please be specific if you are ever guiding someone to you or to another object. We can use our orientation and mobility skills to get to you if you help us out a little but with more specific instructions. 

  
“It’s over there”- If I am looking at you, I will NOT see your hand pointing. I have such a small and blurry tunnel that even if I was looking at your finger, it still wouldn’t be very helpful or accurate. Therefore, being more specific such as “Ten feet to the left of the concession stand at a table,” is much more helpful. 

Most people nowadays, especially those who know me well but forget, just start laughing at themselves as soon as they say it because they know how unhelpful they are being even if they are trying to be helpful. I just laugh right along with them and of course remind them to be a little more specific!

Happy Saturday! 

The Dating Scene


A few months ago, my longterm boyfriend and I broke up. It was for the best, even though I didn’t see it that way at the time of course. However, this opened up a whole new can of worms for me – dating while really being disabled. What do I mean by that?

I started dating this guy in January of 2011. I wasn’t even using a cane at this point, I would just bump into a few things. He was with me through the progression of accepting that I need to use a cane, learning how to use a cane, etc. and then transitioning into using a guide dog. The huge difference for me was last time I did the “dating scene” I didn’t have a visible disability, and now I do.

At first, this really worried me. However, while I was dating the aforementioned ex, I had two really good friends doing the “dating scene,” both with disabilities themselves. One was an individual with blindness and a guide dog user and the other was an individual with bilateral leg amputations. Both these ladies are some of my best friends. However, they both were able to find amazing men, despite their disability. So this gave me a little hope.

I have had several good serious talks about dating with one of them, such as “don’t settle,” and “Many men will love you despite your disability.” That second talk is really important to me now because I am doing the dating scene for the first time in years and as I mentioned above, as clearly someone who has a visible disability now. And you know what I have found? There are many great people who ARE accepting of my disability and quite frankly, could care less, but at the same time help accommodate me in settings where I need help. That is huge. One of the major difficulties in all aspects of our lives as individuals with visual impairments is transportation and the fact that I either have to take public transportation somewhere, try and get a friend or family member to drop me off, or have the person come to me. And many don’t even care that they have to come to me. Such a blessing. 🙂

Nice to know that people out there can look past the disability, even on the dating scene. 🙂

November 15, 2013: John Bramblitt


Today I am thankful for the opportunity to meet some really great people who are making an impact on the world, such as John Bramblitt. John Bramblitt is featured in another post last month too. He went to my school and lost his sight during college due to severe epilepsy. He really liked drawing but never considered painting. Once he lost his vision, he figured ‘why not?’ and started to paint and is absolutely incredible. I’ll include a few pictures below but I also want you to watch the video that I post. It’s different than the one in the original post. It not only touches on being a “non visual visual artist,” but also on some of the emotional aspects of going blind and art’s effect on him. My boyfriend and I are going to get to go to a workshop with him in a few days and we are very excited. My boyfriend is an art major and of course I’m visually impaired so this is right up both of our alley’s. Today, I am grateful for the opportunities to meet and learn from individuals like John Bramblitt.

His video:

Some of his artworks:

Hot air balloons in a beautiful painting with a sunset over a body of water
“Balloons”
A woman with a purple mardi gras mask on. She has many different colors in her hair and is by a window. There are raised lines.
“Mardi Gras Mask” – I got to see and feel this one in person.

 

Marilyn
“Marilyn”

 

 

 

Blindness Awareness Month Fact of the Day (October 15)


An individual with a genetic condition, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, can have no family members whatsoever that have the disease. Such is the case with my family. I have Retinitis Pigmentosa but there is no trace of it on either side of the family. Now obviously both of my families have to be carriers, but my RP is a sporadic, isolate form meaning they do not know what gene mutation caused my RP or how exactly I got it. This is a good and a bad thing. It is a good thing because my sister doesn’t have it and she really wants to go into the medical field and for what she has to do, it would be very hard for her to do with a visual impairment such as RP. It is a bad thing because I do not know if I have kids if I would pass it onto them or not. Even if you do know where your RP came from, there is still the chance of you not knowing if you were going to pass it onto your kids or not.. and that’s a whole controversial topic in itself. Again, there’s an idea for another post. 🙂