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  1. Up in the Air: Loving Life as a Blind Aerialist

    Hi – I’m Rachael, and I’m a blind aerialist and pole dancer. In fact, I’m currently training in pole dancing, aerial trapeze hoop and silks, contortion, chair dance, fire-spinning and breakdance. And I love it! So, how did I get here? I was diagnosed with sporadic exudative vitreoretinopathy at around two years of age. I never had much useful vision in my left eye but had fairly reliable site in my right. It’s a very unique, very unpredictable degenerative condition that caused me to lose the remaining vision in my…

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  2. “Yes, Let’s Do It!”

    If my vision loss has taught me anything, it’s that I always have to make use of every opportunity that comes my way. Because, one: I never know what the future may hold, and two: I have no idea whether this opportunity that is in front of me right now will come my way again. The society that we live in today always encourages us to be involved in some sort of activity – whether that is employment, domestic work or study, we always have a number of reasons to…

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  3. Why I’m No Longer Calling Myself “Visually Impaired”

    It’s a comic irony that the word “blind” is used as a simile for being unaware or ignorant. It’s ironic because there’s so much ignorance about what blindness really means. Most mainstream ideas about blind people and life as a blind person are extremely exaggerated or just plain wrong. A lot of this has to do with media. We are assaulted by tons of images, videos, and ads every day online. And embedded in this media are ideas. When it comes to being blind, and being disabled in general, the…

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  4. The Blind Werewolf: How Blindness Changed Me

    Like a werewolf, my life been a story of transformations. From a poor visually impaired kid in a Pennsylvania steel mill town afraid he would never achieve anything, into a man whose life is full of purpose and meaning. From a boy who tried to pass as sighted, afraid of who he was, into a man ferociously declaring his blindness. I’ve done many things my younger self would not have believed possible. I have a PhD in English literature and Disability Studies. I have published and presented my research around…

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  5. Say It Loud! I’m Blind and I’m Proud.

    You know that feeling you get after winning a video game on the hardest difficulty level, or baking the perfect brownies on your first try without instructions, or beating your frenemy in a race after you’ve given them a ten-second head-start? That feeling is called pride, a pride sparked from determination, and a determination sparked from a healthy self-worth. Giving society all the cheat codes and a ten-second head-start and still winning – that’s the pride I get to feel every single day as a brown-skinned blind woman. Hi, I’m…

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  6. What is Art Worth to a Blind Painter?

    It is often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but what is art worth to a blind painter? I’m Kimberley and I was born prematurely with underdeveloped optic nerves and congenital cataracts that were overlooked until I was four years old. I lived with severe sight-impairment, with only a small visual field in my left eye, until I went blind in 2018 through double retinal detachment. I now suffer with ongoing high pressures in both eyes, with frequent ocular migraines, and have a small shard of light…

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  7. Evolution and Inclusive Language: Creating a New Term for Visual Disabilities

    The terms we use carry with them significance. They can denote power and strength, or they can also denote weakness and other negative biases.  As a society, we have become more aware of the power of language when describing people who may identify in ways that are marginalized. Even better, we have been adopting language created by those people themselves.  I am a DeafBlind person. This is just one aspect of who I am – I’m also a husband and soon-to-be dad, a graduate student, an instructor at Perkins School…

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  8. Dance Beyond Boundaries

    I open my eyes but see nothing. I feel the smooth marley floor under my feet and gently move my toe over the tactile marker on the ground. The music begins to play, and light begins to flood my field of vision. For a moment, I am disoriented. I take a few steadying breaths and begin to move. I trust my body. I trust my knowledge of the stage. I allow my proprioceptive instincts to carry me; these instincts let me know how far and which direction I move. With…

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  9. Action Is the Antidote: Reviving Hope in Hard Times

    My word for 2021 was heal. 2020’s was connect. Instead of resolutions, every New Year’s Day I choose a verb to live by for the year. After an isolating pandemic and inherited retinal disease (IRD) diagnosis, both words seem wildly ironic. Last month – weeks after losing my dad unexpectedly – I was diagnosed with a rare inherited retinal disease called Stargardt’s. Affecting roughly one in 10,000 people, Stargardt’s causes progressive vision loss and eventually blindness. This disease, like many others, is the result of a genetic mutation. There was…

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  10. See Us: a Project 10 Years in the Making

    I’m Jon Marin, author of the soon-to-be-released book See Us, a photographic journey that follows six visually impaired young adults as they balance their lives among work, home, and school in New York City. I had the pleasure of connecting with these students during their time at Career Discovery Project, the program I lead at City Access New York. Building a career program that works for students When I was informed that I would take over the Career Discovery Project in 2014, I was petrified. Too many negative thoughts were…

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