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Girl Talk: meet the hosts of the Blind Girl Chat podcast

Lina Coral and Juna Gjata, hosts of the Blind Girl Chat podcast, want you to think of them as your blind big sisters.

Juna Gjata and Lina Coral, hosts of the Blind Girl Chat podcast. Juna is wearing a hot pink dress and holding a white cane. Lina is wearing a white shirt and long purple skirt and holding the least for her guide dog, a German Shepherd named Quest.

We’re Lina and Juna, the hosts of Blind Girl Chat, where we talk all things blind and girl, no vision required.

We met when we were 12 at a program held at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts. Ironically, we weren’t instant best friends. (Juna maintains that she always thought Lina was “too cool” for her, but Lina vehemently denies this.)

Three years later, thanks to the powers at be, we were randomly paired up as roommates at a summer program at Perkins School for the Blind, and the rest is history. We bonded over our love for the TV show What I Like About You and our obsession with “Party Rock Anthem,” the inescapable biggest hit of 2010.

This was the start of almost 15 years of long phone calls, Starbucks coffee breaks, trips to Lush Cosmetics, and – most importantly – many, many hilarious blind adventures.

“Blind adventures” became our term for all the silly mishaps that would happen to us as blind people, like walking into the fancy artist’s guild on Newbury Street thinking it was a makeup store. Having someone to laugh with always made these moments easier, which is partially what inspired our podcast, Blind Girl Chat.

Like two peas in a pod(cast)

Lina had been wanting to start a podcast about blindness for the past couple of years. But she’d always felt that the topic was too niche and the potential audience too small. In the middle of one of our frequent discussions about ableism, she had the pivotal idea: why not do the podcast together?!

For the past five years, Juna had been hosting her own health and fitness podcast called “Food We Need to Talk.” And Lina had been pursuing her degree in mental health counseling and had a particular interest in the mental health of persons with disabilities.

Combining these two felt like when Starbucks first put together pumpkin and spice: it just made sense.

Blind Girl Chat is born

If there’s one thing we love to do, it’s talk – especially about our experiences as blind young women. Although we have differing vision levels, we found so much solace in the commonalities in our experiences growing up blind.

We often found ourselves bonding over the difficulties of dating, the frustrations of managing ableist coworkers, and the funny moments that were inevitable when traveling to new places. We’re having all those same conversations, but now we have two microphones (and a fun, pink podcast cover).

Blind Girl Chat is our way of shedding light (no pun intended) on issues that are often ignored. It’s a place to have all the uncomfortable, sometimes awkward conversations that you feel like you can’t have with those around you. It’s our way of being a support system for those that did not grow up a bus ride away from their blind best friend.

Think of us as your blind big sisters, except we won’t steal your clothes or read your journal.

About the Blind Girl Chat podcast

Find Blind Girl Chat every Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts – including Apple, Spotify and Podbean. And if you like it, please leave a 5-star rating and review!

About the authors

Lina Coral

Lina was born in Colombia, then came to the United States with her family at age two after being diagnosed with a bilateral eye tumor. Lina became totally blind – an experience that led to her interest in advocating for individuals with disabilities.

Lina has always enjoyed learning about people and their experiences. After taking a psychology class in high school, she knew she had found her passion. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2017 with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and will soon be graduating with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. She hopes to bring more awareness to the intersection of mental health and disability in her work. Lina enjoys learning about fashion, running, and spending time with both her human and four-legged family.

Juna Gjata

Juna (Yoo-nsh) was born in Albania and became legally blind at age four from a rare autoimmune reaction. Originally, her family came to America only temporarily for eye surgeries. Thankfully, they decided to stay.

Growing up, Juna dreamed of being a classical pianist, performing at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center at age 18. In 2017, she graduated from Harvard, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Music. In college, Juna struggled with several eating disorders. Discovering weightlifting senior year completely changed her relationship with her body and inspired her love of health and fitness. In 2018, she started her own podcast called “Food We Need to Talk” with Boston’s NPR station. The podcast has now reached over five million downloads and been turned into a book also called “Food We Need to Talk” published by St. Martin’s Press. Juna loves the gym, snowboarding, and posting videos on TikTok and Instagram.

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