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  1. Losing My Sight – and Finding My Way to “This Is Us”

    My name is Blake Stadnik. I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. When I was six years old, I began having trouble seeing the chalkboard in school. After a number of visits to the doctor, I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a degenerative genetic condition that affects the light-sensitive cells in the retina. I was legally blind within nine months. I had been starting to play sports like many other children in my hometown, but I could no longer see the ball. My mother thought I might enjoy taking…

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  2. An Ally – and Innovator – for Accessibility

    This past April, I started my 50th year of working with and for persons with disabilities. With a goal of becoming a teacher out of undergrad, I started out as an O&M instructor at a state rehab center Kentucky, and then went to graduate school to become an O&M Specialist. From there, I moved on to private rehab services in Charlotte, the Veteran’s Administration in Texas, state rehab in NC, then to UNC Chapel Hill. I retired from UNC in 2013 and now consult for the Association on Higher Education…

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  3. Dream Big, Step Small, and Keep Going

    Blindness hasn’t stopped me from being able to run. I come from a small seaside town in Ireland called Youghal. I was born visually impaired with four eye conditions: aniridia, coloboma, nystagmus, and glaucoma. I have just 5% vision and I am registered legally blind. I find reading very difficult on my eyes and they get sore quite quickly. I have a variety of different magnifying glasses to help when reading. I am very sensitive to light and reflection and I have to wear my sunglasses when outside. I don’t see depth and…

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  4. Bringing TV and Movies to Life with Audio Description

    Many years ago, I worked The Great Movie Ride in Walt Disney World, where guests would go through movie scenes with audio animatronics. I narrated the scenes as a host – and later, as a gangster who gets blown up. In a sense, this was my first experience with audio description. For movies and TV shows, audio description (also known as video description) is a special audio track where a narrator voices the visuals relevant to the plot. It’s intended for blind and low-vision audiences to experience the film or…

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  5. Look Forward and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

    I’m Daniel. I live in the UK and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 8. A few years ago, I was featured on the BBC’s Saints and Scroungers talking about my experiences and the traumatic bullying I faced at school. Whilst at mainstream secondary school, when asked if I was blind I would reply, “Not me – I think you’ve got the wrong person” as I didn’t want to admit my eye condition to myself, let alone anyone else. I got angry with teaching assistants who would follow me…

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  6. Coming to a Crossroads and Finding CrossFit

    My story of vision loss began before I can remember. My parents received my diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa when I was five years old and they were told that I would most likely be totally blind by the age of 18. Without hesitation they started preparing me for life. I learned cane travel, took mobility and braille lessons and – because they knew that I would never be able to play most sports – I was signed up for dance lessons. Dance quickly became everything to me, and would shape…

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  7. Beyond Braille: Seeing the Unseen

    It was in 2014, while I was pursuing my Masters at CEPT University, that I started exploring the concept of creating tactile picture books. I started visiting schools for the blind, and met with a few teachers and students there. Based on that research, I decided to design illustrated picture books for people who are blind and visually impaired. And what started as a college project soon became my motivation. I wished to bring the world of visuals to the visually impaired community and wanted to spark the love for reading that…

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  8. Unafraid: How I Overcame the Ultimate Fear

    THE guy came out to me in high school. Girls adored him – guys hated that he played sports AND could sing. So, when Mr. Perfect tried several awkward attempts to corner me, naturally I grew excited. Me? I was the weird girl who held books too close to my nose, definitely not his tier. However, when he finally did manage to sit me down, it was to tell me he was gay. I was the first person he’d ever told. While I wasn’t self-aware enough to recognize the importance…

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  9. Fore! Moving Ahead, Thanks to Golf

    My name is Chad NeSmith, and I am a professional golfer. I also happen to be completely blind. My hometown is Brentwood, Tennessee, where I practice with my golf teacher and friend, Andy Church. I didn’t always play golf, though. When I was younger, I played football and basketball, thinking one day I would be an NFL star. Then I started to lose my vision and completely lost my sight to retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 35. My wife was the person who insisted that I find a hobby…

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  10. Blind & In Technicolor

    Following the loss of my sight, and about five years of total blindness, I developed a gorgeous, technicolor visualization of myself and reality which my neurologists call non-optic sight, or a type of adaptive synesthesia – but let me back up. Even as I progressively lost my retinal vision, my mind was full of light, and my heart was full of music. I embraced non-visual perception, low vision, double vision, and, difficult as it was, the very abstract phase before final retinal loss. This journey has been one, not into…

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