I find it so exhilarating talking to people who are making a difference by sharing their stories of hope and inspiration. If you’ve lived long enough you know life is not only uncertain it’s sometimes challenging to endure some of the difficulties that come our way.
So it wasn’t surprising I would be captivated by the blog-Seeing Possibilities, Navigating through life with Vision Loss. The title reminded me that in life regardless of our circumstances, there are endless possibilities at our disposal. However, we have to take the first step by making the choice to overcome.
At age 25 Audrey Demmitt, the Support Group Advisor for the American Foundation for the Blind and a Peer Advisor for VisionAware.org, received her diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) though she lived with the disease years before the diagnosis was made. RP is a genetic condition that causes retinal degeneration and eventual vision loss.
The diagnosis of RP didn’t stop Audrey from graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in nursing. She went on to practice as a registered nurse with a visual impairment for 29 years before retiring last year.
“Though my retirement was premature due to my vision loss, I am enjoying it!” ~Audrey
A number of years ago due to her declining vision Audrey experienced a major impact on her life when she lost her driver’s license at age 30. As she steadily continued to lose vision Audrey realized the critical need to get help. It became increasingly difficult moving about safely, reading normal print, using the computer, doing activities of daily living, and coping emotionally.
It was through vision rehabilitation that Audrey learned about assistive technologies, orientation, and mobility skills, and adapted ways to cook, clean and do other household activities. She learned how to use a white cane to enable her to safely navigate and eventually got her first guide dog, Sophie in 2011.
“My visual acuity is about 20/300 and my field of view is 6-10 degrees now. Recently, I was diagnosed with cataracts. I have been legally blind since 1994.” ~Audrey
Audrey, her husband Kevin, and two dogs Lucy (a pug) and Sophie (a golden retriever guide dog) reside south of Atlanta, Georgia. The mother and father of 3 very successful adult children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law, when speaking of her children Audrey says: “they are, by far, my greatest accomplishment in life and my pride and joy!”
Raising a family while having a successful career, leading a support group for the visually impaired in her local community, speaking to groups on vision loss, living with a disability, and using a guide dog are just a few of the things Audrey has and still is achieving. Since retiring she is exploring lots of new interests and learning to adapt them to low vision. She is enjoying getting “healthier”, exercising, learning yoga, tandem bike riding with her husband etc. and she loves the freedom to go on trips and spending time with family and friends.
I am just another gal trying to figure out this “life with low vision thing! ~Audrey
A well-rounded person, Audrey loves to read, travel, cook and try new and exotic foods. She loves words, word games, writing and has even dabbled in professional and creative writing. Recently her latest crafty passion is making rag rugs. She enjoys the great outdoors and if you check out her blog at www.seeingpossibilities.com she talks about her latest hiking adventure in Pennsylvania.
Finally, Audrey likes sharing her story in the hopes of providing encouragement and empowering others who are experiencing the loss of vision. Her goal is to educate and build awareness around the issues the visually impaired face on a daily basis.
Thank you, Audrey, for allowing me the pleasure of writing about you. You are a dynamo and seeing everything you’ve done has been encouraging to me.
“I wish you all a rich and meaningful life…it is possible even with vision loss! Life is “in-session”…live it!” ~Audrey Demmitt