I have always been legally blind, having been diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia at three months old. I have a visual acuity of 20/600 in one eye and 20/800 in the other, no peripheral vision, night blindness, nystagmus, and no perception of relative distance or depth perception.
I am a partial cane user and large-print reader, but I also read braille! I can’t drive a car, but I am a master at public transit! Life with low vision is all I’ve ever known and I’ve spent that life with less sight just trying to foster my personal vision…
Chapter 1: My past
Throughout my childhood, I remember encountering people who tried to tell me “no” -questioning my abilities because of my vision. There were moments when I felt isolated as the only blind person living in my small town in Connecticut. I will never forget getting my first white cane at age 16 as my sighted peers got their driver’s licenses.
I remember these tough moments, but the moments that stand out even more are the times when I didn’t let my vision hold me back. I was fortunate to have an incredible support system who encouraged me to take risks: my parents and first TVI. At age two, my parents signed me up for dance classes, and I went on to dance five days a week for fifteen years. Because of their support, I adopted a perspective that allowed me to focus on what I CAN do, instead of what I can’t.
Chapter 2: My present – and my “I CAN” perspective
As an adult, I have devoted my life to sharing this “I CAN” perspective with others. I moved to New York City to support my independence and am currently working as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT)/Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialist at VISIONS Services for the Blind and as a Content Creator for Eye.T, a curriculum development company for the blind. Nothing means more to me than getting to help others who have my shared experience of vision loss to step out of the dark and see what is possible.
In this video, created to celebrate VRT Appreciation Month, my VISIONS colleagues and I discuss our work:
I also share the “I CAN” perspective through writing. My two published books, YES: The Story of a Dreamer (Wishing Shelf International Book Award Finalist) and Through the Magnifying Glass are odes to all of the people who have encouraged me.
I wrote them for those who don’t have someone to tell them “yes” or who are struggling with self-acceptance. My hope is that these stories will encourage readers to trust in themselves and follow their dreams.
Finally, I have been channeling the “I CAN” perspective into advocacy. I have been working with a team of vision rehabilitation professionals in New York State to advocate for licensure for VRTs and O&M specialists. Licensure would help to create more opportunities for people who are blind or low vision to receive services, as well as ensure that people who are blind or low vision have the most qualified individuals providing rehabilitation.
Soon, I will be traveling to the New York State capital to speak with representatives about what licensure could offer to the BVI community.
Chapter 3: My future
Looking ahead, I plan to continue to write, teach, and advocate to help others achieve their dreams.
I plan to write more books in various genres that feature characters across the spectrum of blindness.
I plan to present at conferences across the country this year to help share my perspective as both a professional and person within the BVI community.
I plan to advocate for equity within my BVI community, and lobby for change.
I plan to continue to embrace the “I CAN” perspective and to always look at life through a rose-colored cane.
About the author
To learn more about Frankie Ann Marcille and her work as an author, educator, and advocate – or to purchase her books – visit her website, FrankieAnnMarcille.com. You can also give her a follow on Facebook and Instagram.