Giving Back

Cindy WentzBy Brian Klotz

Like many people, Cindy Wentz entered college unsure of what her career path would be. A New Jersey native, she moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University, initially as a Psychology major before switching to Sociology. After graduation, Cindy worked at a bank, but was still unclear on her ultimate career goal until she decided to go back to school, obtaining a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University.

“I remember in high school I always thought I wanted to work with people,” she says, at first thinking she would become a teacher like much of her family, before deciding it wasn’t for her.

Both Cindy’s desire to help people with disabilities and her tireless work ethic can perhaps be traced back to the discrimination she faced trying to gain employment in her younger years.

“In high school, when everyone else was getting their summer jobs, I had such a hard time,” she explains. Having been blind since birth, Cindy recalls how many employers rejected her because of her disability – and would say so outright. Continue reading

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I Won’t Know Unless I Try

Post by Brian Klotz

Ellie Leach at MABVI's Senior Connection 2014

Ellie Leach at MABVI’s Senior Connection 2014

Ellie Leach had never used a computer. No email, no games, no web browsing – as she puts it, “I had never even used a typewriter!” Over twenty years ago Ellie, now 78, was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a medical condition that causes vision loss, putting yet another obstacle between herself and tech-savviness.

Today, however, Ellie is the proud owner of an iPad, which she uses to email friends and family, play games, and listen to her favorite music.

“It’s like I’m alive again,” she says. “I feel like I’m a part of everything again.” Continue reading

Why Not?

Post by P. Nina Livingstone

Nina Livingstone

Nina Livingstone

Growing up, I always enjoyed my sighted life; I saw blue skies, the exquisite ocean and its waves embracing their shores, the colors of the seasons in New England and the colors of my socks, the expressions of others in all conversations… bliss! Now all the visuals, the beauty of nature, people, animals, the earth with its fields and farms, the flowing rivers and printed New York Times, magazines and books – everything remains dormant in my mind’s vault. Everything around me relies on memory, the reels of “film footage” from the past. I lost my sight completely in the year 2000 from a hereditary eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Adjusting to the world sight-lessly entails time and patience – both of which I find irritating, because time is precious and short, and patience – well, I have little patience. Perhaps I am infinitely in denial about my sight loss. My door remains open to the possibility of seeing again – why not? Continue reading

Going Through Changes

Post by Meaghan Roper, a 19-year-old Wheelock College Freshman

Meaghan and her brother hiking in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado this past summer

Meaghan and her brother hiking in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado this past summer

Middle school and high school years are a big time for change. You try new things, you join different sports and clubs, you make new friends (and lose old ones), and you start thinking about what you will do after you graduate, whether it be going to college or joining the work force. It’s a challenging time when many people require lots of support from friends, family, and peers. One thing that I know from experience doesn’t make those difficult times any easier? Losing your vision. Continue reading

Kane and Able

Post by Sinead Kane – an Irish Solicitor (Lawyer), PhD Researcher, Motivational Speaker, Marathon Runner, Writer for the Irish Criminal Law Journal, and Advocate for the Visually Impaired

Sinead Kane wearing a floral dress, posing for a photoMost successful people only achieve their goals through encountering obstacles, having doors closed in their faces, and having dreams derailed by mistakes. The difference between those who have won and those who have thrown up their hands in defeat is often the level of persistence and determination the person possesses in tough times. Staying upright in a world full of chaos is hard, but we can still win out if we believe we can.

From a very early age I have learnt what it means to be resilient in life, as my parents taught me the importance of integrity, honesty, and being an advocate. I grew up in a family where we were all visually impaired. My mum is totally blind. My dad, my sister, and I are all registered as blind but we each have a small bit of vision. At four years old I discovered that I was different. I couldn’t see the TV and so went very close to it and hit my nose against the screen. The static from the TV gave me a shock and I got upset. My parents sat me and my sister down and told us that we had very bad sight and that we would be like this for our whole life. They told us we would be different from other kids and that we would need to see things up close. What I learnt from my parents was that it is okay to be different, and to just be true to myself and be the best version of me that I could be. Continue reading