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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. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. The Blind Woodsman

    As a blind woodworker, the blueprints for any of my projects start forming as a picture held in my mind. As someone who previously had vision, it allows me to visualize the design and change it any way I need until it feels right. In my own way, I still use sight by forming a physical object that originated from an imagined diagram. The journey in my own wood shop has mirrored my journey through blindness. Each project has brought its own challenge, much like navigating the landscape of a…

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  8. How I Became a Blind Painter

    My name is Aishwarya and I lost my vision later in life after being diagnosed with brain tumor in 2008. My hobby was painting at that time. I gave it up as I thought I wouldn’t be able to pursue it without vision. But little did I know I was wrong! I was introduced to rehabilitation services in the later years and got a job as a rehabilitation counselor in 2013. As a result, I became more independent and now achieve things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to…

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  9. Dominating the Gaming World – Without Vision

    My name is TJ – and I play video games completely blind. I played video games my whole life, everything from Halo to Call of Duty. I have been blind since the age of 15 and now spend my time playing video games without any vision, doing what I can to help others like myself experience the joy of gaming with friends. Oftentimes people think playing video games is something where sight is needed, other times people think I can’t see, so why try. I decided to try after losing…

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  10. Blind Hockey and a Burger-hunting Guide Dog (Or, “How I Came Back to Life After Vision Loss”)

    I started to notice my vision going when I was an undergraduate student at the age of 19. I didn’t really know how to deal with it and didn’t know what support was out there, so I tried to ignore it and keep moving on with my life. I was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy, a degenerative condition that I was assured there was no treatment for and it was unknown how it would affect my vision loss going forward. When I was 28, I went into a depression, becoming convinced…

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