Here is a cocktail napkin version of my story.
I had excellent vision until the age of 34, never wore glasses. My world started getting darker, and moving objects suddenly disappeared from sight – not good when driving.
My initial academic goal was to get a Bachelors in Information Technology (IT). Life hands you a lemon, make some lemonade. I changed my major to Psychology. The brain and the mind for me were analogous to computers and software, just a little more complex. Earned my B.A. in Psychology with a 3.95 GPA, and a M.A. in Professional Counseling with a 3.72 GPA.
I was awarded my license in Texas, as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor (BCPCC). I counsel individuals who have experienced, homelessness and addictions, often resulting from physical and sexual abuse as a child or sexual trauma as an adult.
I have to be honest. I had help. I didn’t do it alone, thanks to the advent of assistive technology.
I initially started out with Dragon Naturally Speaking, and trained it for dictation. A.I. Squared Zoom Text Screen Reader/Magnifier, then transitioned into JAWS for Windows as my blindness progressively became worse. Kurzweil 1000 for scanning books not available in audio format. I have an iPhone with assistive technology enabled for keeping up with my counseling appointments, and a timer to let me know when my sessions with clients have ended. I have a digital recorder to take notes during sessions.
I enrolled at California Southern University and, with four classes under my belt, I have 12 credit hours towards my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), as a Clinical Psychologist. I have four “A”s with a 4.0 GPA. All despite being completely blind. By the time I complete my doctorate, I will have my Licensed Chemical Dependency (LCDC) license as well, and my LPC upgraded to an LPC-S Supervisor level LPC.
It has definitely been a challenge for me. Flying back and forth from Lynchburg, Virginia back when I was working on my Master’s Degree presented unique challenges. When I was doing my LPC Internship, my LPC Supervisor took me on for free, because he didn’t believe that a blind person could be a counselor, or effective as one.
You have to advocate for yourself. When faced with challenges with your disability, develop creative solutions to overcome and adapt.
My name is Dan W. Miller, 48 years old. I live in Amarillo, Texas. I have been married to the same women, Elizabeth Miller for 23 years, with two adult children. I go barefoot everywhere even in the snow all year round, because I also have some nerve deterioration, and equilibrium/balance issues. It was a recommendation from my doctor. My white cane is great, and even better doing it barefoot. I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.