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Mja Stæinarr | Blind Beauty Issue #33

Mja Stæinarr

Mja Stæinarr | Blind Beauty Issue #33

I recently connected with lovely Freelance Makeup Artist, Mja Stæinarr, on Instagram. Even though she lives with multiple chronic illnesses and debilitating pain she is passionate about her craft.

Following is a quote Mja typically uses when talking about blindness:

“Blindness isn’t just a lack of vision, or darkness. Despite everything the world knows about blindness, sometimes you need others who understand your darkness to show you how bright and beautiful being blind can be.” ~Mja Stæinarr

Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Gorgeous Mja Stæinarr is on the cover with her makeup on point. She has long dark hair, dark eyes, well-defined dark eyebrows and deep burgundy lip color.

Blocks of text superimposed on the photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

You can follow Mja on her following Instagram accounts:

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A Dream Of Inclusivity Is Coming True For BBB

Inclusivity is a major concern here at Bold Blind Beauty. This image is the first tactile coffee mug designed with braille. Full description is in the body of the post.

A Dream Of Inclusivity Is Coming True For BBB

Inclusivity “an intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded” is one of my favorite words. Living on a planet with so many diverse people can be a challenge from an inclusive perspective. Yet, like eating an elephant the massive task of creating an inclusive world begins within each of us.

Inclusivity Begins With Vision

Have you ever envisioned something so marvelous and so vast just thinking of it makes your heart sputter? No matter what you do the idea plagues you to the point of obsession and you cannot let it go? Has your brain worked overtime seeking ways to make your dream reality so much so at times it shuts down? 

Ever since the birth of BBB aka Bold Blind Beauty we had a dream of changing perceptions on blindness. We dreamed of helping blind women feel more confident, beautiful, and empowered in a world that doesn’t quite understand or accept us. Our hope was to bring together sighted and non-sighted communities to show that we share more in common than we presume.

Our journey is taking longer than we anticipated. We’ve hit a few bumpy roads, have broken down, taken detours (sometimes down the wrong road) yet we continue moving.

Each ‘First’ Is A Celebration

From our first Woman On The Move, the Abby unveil and developing the online store, we’ve celebrated many firsts. Today, we are thrilled to show you our very first tactile coffee mug. Yes, that’s right our very first mug with tactile braille incorporated into the design. We expect to have the tactile mugs available to buy this summer, so stay tuned!

Last year we focused on updating the site. This year the focus is on marketing and expanding our line of merchandise to include pretty tactile products. Be on the lookout for some fascinating things to come over the next few months!

Featured Image Description: 

A Bold Blind Beauty Coffee Mug features Abigale (Abby) to the left & right of the mug’s handle. In the center of the images are the words “Bold Blind Beauty” stacked vertically in raised braille.

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Episode 31 | All Inclusive Club Membership

Did you know membership....quote and image description are in the body of the post.

Abby’s Insights on Beauty & Blindness

“Did you know membership within the largest minority group in the world is always open to everyone? It’s true, yet somehow the world still excludes the majority of us because of our membership status.”

Membership Has Its Rewards Or Does It?

Today there are about 7.5 billion people in the world. Of this number, 15% of the population has some form of disability.

Our minority group; people with disabilities (PWDs) that is, don’t care about gender, religion, education or other characteristics that define a person. We are the only minority group where anyone at any given time of their lives can become a member.

I wonder what the world would be like if the majority of the population were PWDs? Personally, I think we would still be as discriminatory as we are today because of the majority numbers game. With so many people on the planet, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be accepting of everyone but why don’t we celebrate our differences?

Instead of looking at PWDs with pity or disdain why not let’s try to be kind? Whether we are born with or acquire a disability later in life we are no more or no less human than anyone else.

We can transcend barriers by changing the way we perceive one another. The way we will achieve this goal is by sharing our stories, getting out there and living our lives.

Featured Image Description:

A white, teal and gray boldblindbeauty.com template uses the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image. Abby, sporting her signature explosive hairstyle is sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar). She is using her teal Abby logoed laptop with a headset/microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

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White Cane-Friendly Handbags

Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

White Cane-Friendly Handbags

white cane-friendly handbags description is in the body of the post
#1 Image

Handbags are a gal’s best friend, am I right or am I right? Like an extension of ourselves, we are practically one with our handbags.  On the rare occasions where I’ve misplaced or left home without my bag, I’ve nearly had major panic attacks.  

While handbags are necessary to carry our essentials they can also be a trendy fashion statement. Those of us who use handheld mobility devices need to keep in mind, portability, and practicality when selecting a bag. One of my faves, the fold over clutch, for example, may not be practical for the following reasons:

  1. Size restricts the number of contents
  2. This type of bag needs to be held in hand or under the arm
  3. The lack of straps or handles increases the likelihood of accidentally misplacing the bag
  4. When walking my focus needs to be on navigating safely with my white cane and not worrying about my bag

Thank heavens there are oodles of fashionable yet functional bags for us blind or visually impaired gals to choose from. Given the combination of handbag characteristics, there is no need to sacrifice style over function.

Seven Styles Of White Cane-Friendly Handbags

  1. Crossbody – These bags feature a strap long enough to hang on your shoulder and across your body. The shoulder strap allows you to be completely hands-free.
  2. Backpack – A bag with shoulder straps to carry on one’s back. Many of today’s backpack styles are chic and convertible.
  3. Bucket – A round or oval bottom with a drawstring closure, resulting in a shape similar to a bucket. They usually have an open top, but may have a magnetic closure for added security.
  4. Fanny Pack– A a small pouch on a belt, for money and small articles, worn around the waist or hips. Fanny packs used to get a bad rap but some of today’s styles are extraordinary.
  5. Hobo – Usually a large crescent-shape, slouchy bag with a long strap designed to wear over the shoulder. Hobo bags consist of soft, flexible materials that tend to slump or slouch when setting down.
  6. Satchel – Typically has an interior frame, rectangular shape, flat bottom, double handles, and a hinged or zippered opening.
  7. Tote – Totes are large handbags, usually with double handles and an open top.

With the exception of backpacks and fanny packs, I recommend handbags with a long strap to wear crossbody style. This gives you the hands-free option to safely use your white cane while your bag is secure on your person.

In addition to style, sizes, colors, materials, textures, designs, closures, and decorations, all make for a plethora of handbag choices. It’s great to know we can have sophisticated looking bags with all the bells and whistles while remaining safe.

#1 Image Description:

Three mini textured handbags (brown, black. and purple). Each has a flap with brass hardware closures on the front, handle on top and a flat bottom.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

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Jayd Alex | Blind Beauty Issue #32

Jayd Alexz image description is in the body of the post.

Jayd Alex | Blind Beauty Issue #32

Image #1 by Jayd Alex | We See More, We Are More. Image description is in the body of the post.
Image #1 | We See More, We Are More.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t true if you can’t see it. Likewise, painting with words, the skill writers and creatives alike use, can fully engage our senses. There is power in both imagery and words. Marrying the two with image descriptions make stories come alive in the imaginations of people who are blind or visually impaired (VI).

Take for example the 3 images within this post created by Digital Artist, Jayd Alex. Each of her pieces challenges us to view blindness from a different perspective. These gorgeous drawings show the vast spectrum of blindness and how people who are blind might appear.

What I love about Jayd’s art is that it demystifies blindness by showing characters with strength, confidence, and their white canes. Ordinary people who cannot see yet are living their lives independently. Each of the images shows people who are well-groomed, poised, and fierce.

Following is what Jayd has to say about blindness:

“Visual impairments and blindness don’t just present difficulties, they present unique perspectives that deserve to be shared. I hope through my art I can help VI people become more confident in themselves and their abilities, and show our able-bodied society that we have so much to give.” ~Jayd Alex

Image #1 Description:

Black & white partial sketch of a woman holding an identification (ID) cane in both hands. A braid can be seen laying on her right shoulder and she is professionally dressed in a jacket with rolled up sleeves and white cami.

Image #2 by Jayd Alex. Description is in the body of the post.
Image #2

Image #2 Description:

Fashionably dressed brown-skinned woman with wavy burgundy colored hair. She has a blue floppy hat on her head with blue oversized shades, white cold shoulder top with lace details around the shoulders and blue jeans. She is holding her white mobility cane in her right hand and she could easily be a runway model.

Image #3 #SymbolCane by Jayd Alex. Description is in the body of the post.
Image #3 | #SymbolCane

Image #3 Description:

This image is part of a new iPad painting. The image is a stylish white complexioned young woman with pink hair in a ponytail and loose wisps of hair on both sides of her face. She is wearing a purple three-quarter sleeve length top and matching choker with a full black skirt belted at the waist. In both hands, she is holding a shorter identification cane used to indicate she has low vision.

Jayd Alex Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Jayd is looking quite lovely on the cover with her fair porcelain complexion wearing brown-framed eyeglasses. She has light blonde shoulder length hair, blue/grey eyes and is wearing a burgundy crew neck sweater.

Blocks of text superimposed on Jayd’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

To learn more about Jayd you can connect with her on social media:

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Lizzie Capener | Blind Beauty Issue #31

Blind Beauty Issue #31 Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

Lizzie Capener | Blind Beauty Issue #31

Lizzie Capener
Lizzie Capener in blue vintage dress

What does blind look like? When I saw this question along with the photo of a stylish woman with a white cane I had to find out who she was.

The photo of Lizzie Capener I’m talking about is the image to the right of this text. In it, Lizzie is wearing a royal blue vintage swing dress with three-quarter length sleeves and a black sash around her waist. Her waist length blond hair is draped over her right shoulder as she poses with her left hand on her hip and holds her white cane in her right hand. It looks like she’s suspended in mid-air as the image is tilted to the right. The yellow background brings out the white cane, white heels, and blue in her dress. 

What I like about Lizzie’s caption and the photo is exactly what Bold Blind Beauty speaks to consistently. That is, letting go of our assumptions and learning people’s story before forming an opinion. Like many other disabilities, there is a vast spectrum of blindness. Here is what Lizzie had to say about what blindness looks like:

“What does blind look like? Well, this! There are millions of other examples too, just like there are many different forms of sight loss. Did you know that only about 4% of blind people have no vision at all? I’m registered blind, but I still have good central vision. I can still do my makeup, pick up what I need in shops etc, but I need my cane to stop me from having accidents when I’m out and about.

Let’s raise awareness of hidden disabilities and not judge people by the way they look.”

Lizzie is posing on a staircase with her right hand on the railing and left hand on her hip. She is wearing a navy blue strapless gown with a dainty necklace and a bracelet on each wrist. Blind Beauty Issue #31 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Lizzie is on the cover wearing a black and white polka dot vintage dress with a bright red belt and a strand of pearls around her neck. She is holding the end of her white cane like a microphone and it looks like she’s singing.

Blocks of text superimposed on Lizzie’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

Connect with and/or follow Lizzie Capener on social media:

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Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough

Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough Featured Image Description is in the body of the post.

Today’s Guest Post was originally published on BlindAlive February 05, 2017 by Mel Scott

Being Enough What Does It Mean?

What does it mean to “be enough?” How does it feel? How will we know when we have reached that blissful state of “enoughness?”

These questions have been churning in my brain consciously for years, and probably subconsciously all my life. Well, I have been pondering on it long enough. I have some ideas that might help sort it out.

To say, “I am enough” is a very different statement than, “I have enough.” We can quantify “having enough:” there is enough food, shelter, or whatever it is that is required. “Being enough” is a bit more elusive. It is a state of mind. To be willing to say, “I am enough” and truly believe it, even for an instant, allows for a feeling of inner spaciousness; a peaceful expansion of consciousness.

I could easily tell you at this point to do twenty affirmations every day saying, “I am enough,” and eventually you will feel better. This absolutely can be an effective practice. I use it myself but I want to introduce another idea.

Are We Being Realistic In Our Expectations?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation and the person said to me, “I am sad because I am not enough.” Usually, I might have said something like, “Of course you are, look at all the people you have helped and influenced over your lifetime.” There are a lot of dismissive remarks I could have made. This time, however, what shot out of my mouth was, “You are right! You are not enough and you never will be, so get over it!” I felt kind of shocked when it spilled out of me, but I realized the truth of the statement immediately.

How can any of us ever be “enough” when the To Do List is infinite? How can we be enough when we feel “less than” due to blindness, deafness, or a thousand other physical conditions, or when the size of our pants aren’t the size we have decided is the perfect one? How can we ever be enough when we measure ourselves by a superhero we have conjured up in our own minds? How can we be enough when the mark moves up as soon as we reach it?

We can’t! There is no way! Therefore, to be sad about not being enough means you will be sad about it the rest of your life. That does not work for me.

A Proposed Solution

The way I see it is I can either drop the thought, “I am not enough” and even drop the thought “I am enough.” They really are not useful because a measurement is inherent in both statements. I propose we drop them both. Can you imagine that? You never have to be enough again and you never will feel sad again because you are not enough. “Being enough” is no longer a measurement that applies to us.

How does that feel?

For me, a whole world of guilt-free possibilities just opened up. So much inner space can be created if we get over “being enough.” Let it go and observe how you feel. Take it in and you might breathe easier.

BlindAlive would love to hear your reactions to this post. You can comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their informative chat list.

Featured Image Description:

In the photo are 6 flat stones atop one another decreasing in size to convey balance. The stones are sitting on a rocky beach in the foreground. In the background is the ocean and the pastel colored sky is on the horizon. The color palette is a calm, soothing one in softly muted grays, blues, pinks, and whites.

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Episode #29 | On Being Authentic

Being Authentic Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

Abby’s Insights on Beauty & Blindness

“What’s the best thing about being authentic? No training required.”

What does it mean to be authentic? It’s quite simple really. Each of us is unique and no one can teach you how to be you. As humans, we sometimes have the tendency to make things more complicated than necessary.

Featured Image Description:

A gray, teal and white boldblindbeauty.com template uses the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image. Abby, sporting her signature explosive hairstyle is sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar). She is using her teal Abby logoed laptop with a headset/microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

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Easter Greetings From Abby & Alexis

Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

Easter Greetings From Abby & Alexis

Abby with her signature explosive hairstyle is dressed in a teal tank top and gray exercise pants. She is on her knees hugging Alexis, a golden lab with a teal collar around her neck and an Alexis medallion.
Abby & Alexis image credit: Jessica Marano

On this Good Friday afternoon, I wanted to take a moment to wish you Happy Easter greetings. I’m relaxing and spending time with my baby Alexis. Even though at 55 pounds she’s hardly a baby, Alexis is my retired guide dog and hence my family.

A Little Interesting Tidbit About Alexis’ Name

From the Greek name Αλεξις (Alexis), which meant “helper” or “defender”, derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo) “to defend, to help”. This was the name of a 3rd-century BC Greek comic poet, and also of several saints. Alexis came by her name honestly as she was the most loyal guide dog a girl could ask for.

Our Easter Message

We wish you not to lose the beautiful Easter feeling of new beginnings. May this spring bring you new hope, new friendships, and new perspectives.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Featured Image And Abby & Alexis Description:

Abby is sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar). Her laptop on her laps has a teal Abby logo on the cover. Atop her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone. Her white cane is propped up next to her.

Abby with her signature explosive hairstyle is dressed in a teal tank top and gray exercise pants. She is on her knees hugging Alexis, a golden lab with a teal collar around her neck. And since Alexis has her own fashion sense she has a silver “Alexis” medallion on her collar.

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Brittany Winner | Blind Beauty Issue #30

Brittany Winner Blind Beauty Issue #30 Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

Brittany Winner | Blind Beauty Issue #30

Brittany will be our featured Woman On The Move on April 3 but I couldn’t resist sharing her Instagram photo with you today. The image was so striking to me because it shows we are making progress in how we perceive blindness. “The white cane is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It allows us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”

Following is Brit’s quote on Instagram that she posted with her stunning photo:

“Thank you @beenymph and @pinupgirlclothing for this beautiful shot of me. This picture defines who I am at this point in my life. I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments I’ve been able to achieve in this last year since I’ve lost my vision. I’ve had an incredible community to help me grow and learn, as well support from my friends and family.

I know this is just the beginning of my journey and I have so much to learn. Something happened that I never thought could, my blindness has given me a gift. By having a disability, it has given me the ability to overcome anything. I know that no matter what life throws at me I will have what it takes to overcome and persevere.” ~Brittany Winner

Blind Beauty Issue #30 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Brittany is on the cover dressed head to toe in black. Her pantsuit is a black and dark gray diamond pattern. She is sitting with her legs crossed in a black director’s chair and the white cane is leaning against the right side of the chair. What makes the photo so striking is the dark blue background which makes the white cane pop. Brit’s long dark hair is draped down the front of her right shoulder. She has a bright red lip and looks all about business as she rests her face on her upraised left fist.

Blocks of text superimposed on Brittany’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

Connect with and/or follow Brittany Winner on social media:

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Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry..

Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

I wrote the following article (posted 3/14/2018) for VisionAware.org:   

Editor’s Note: The week of March 11 was World Glaucoma Week. Peer advisor Steph McCoy, Founder, and CEO of Bold Blind Beauty, has written eloquently about her journey with this eye condition. As a real fashionista, in this post, she shares her thoughts on fashion trends, an important topic as Spring approaches. 

Does Loss of Vision Equal Frumpy?

There’s a misconception that sight loss equals frumpy and unfashionable. Likewise, there’s a silent societal expectation where people with sight loss shouldn’t be fashionable.

The truth is, there are people with sight who either have no interest in or lack fashion sense. Also true, there are people who are blind or have sight loss, and they are fashionistas.

Thankfully, maintaining a sense of style and keeping a finger on the pulse of trends isn’t wholly reliant on eyesight. Like anything else, we can continue to enjoy and immerse ourselves in the world of fashion if we desire.

While the fashion industry still has a way to go where inclusion is concerned, the Internet has improved access to information. The Internet has made it possible for individuals with disabilities to become mouthpieces for change.

Fashion Trends Resources with Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired In Mind

Today, there are many blind and visually impaired fashion content creators with plenty room for more. With this in mind, here are few tips to help a person who is blind or visually impaired remain connected to fashion.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

  • When you know your style, stick with it.
  • Keep it simple and classic.
  • For trendsetters, taking risks is part of the fun in fashion, continue doing what you do.

Expand Your Fashion Resource Network

  • Follow and engage with fashion bloggers, vloggers, and writers. You can find them on blogging platforms, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Read about and discuss the latest trends, styles, and seasonal colors with friends who have similar tastes and interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust who will give you honest feedback.
  • Testing new looks? Take photos and share with your trusted online community or friends and family for feedback.

Easy Low Tech Fashion Resources

QVC does a remarkable job in describing their merchandise. Following is a small sampling of their fashion segments.

  • Morning Q Live – Style Edition
  • Amy’s Closet (Amy Stran)
  • Denim & Co.
  • Susan Graver Style

Seek Professional Assistance

  • Professional consultants develop in-depth personal profiles to suit individual needs
  • Personal Shopper/Styling Service
  • Beauty Consultant
  • Image Consultant

Final Note

As blind and visually impaired people, we face our share of barriers. We are not what’s happened to us, and we have the power of choice. Thankfully, we can choose how to move forward with our lives and allow fashion to play a role.

Featured Image Description:

Tri collage of “yours truly” posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry.

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When We Connect We Are Stronger

When We Connect collage of FFB photos are in the body of the post

When We Connect We Are Stronger

Three of Diane Krek's landscape paintings are on easels behind a banquet table with Chinese Auction and Silent Auction items. In front of each auction item is a pink or blue foil gift bag for the raffle tickets.
Diane Krek’s Paintings, “BLT Art For A Cause”

This past weekend the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) was an exhibitor at the Pittsburgh Vision Seminar. The seminar, hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) reminded me once again of how lonely sight loss can be. When we connect we are stronger because losing one’s eyesight can be a lonely experience but it can be different.

The first person I met was so upset over her sister’s sight loss to diabetic retinopathy I thought she might break down. When I asked her if her sister was given a referral to low vision rehabilitation I wasn’t surprised when she told me no. This conversation set the tone as we spoke with many people and family members of those new to sight loss.

It’s Helpful to Know You Aren’t Alone

While those attending these events are looking for a cure to their inherited retinal disease I think it’s equally important to adapt. For this reason, I am so glad several of the exhibitors were blind or visually impaired. This was an opportunity for a vital connection between sighted and non-sighted communities. My friend Diane Krek, who was recently featured in one of our local newspapers, was there with her beautiful paintings. Then there was my friend Christine and I who represented PCB.

When I lost my sight it was my friends at PCB and our local chapter who helped me get through it. So Saturday was my chance to give back by letting people see us in action. It’s so gratifying being in a position of helping people understand they are not alone in their sight loss journey and assure them that life goes on.

Giving people a few simple tools like 20/20 pens and check writing guides along with other resources enlightened them. Advising others of our local PCB affiliate in Pittsburgh gave them the opportunity to join our peer network.

Gene Therapy & Latest News

While I couldn’t stay for the entire seminar, the speakers I heard were awesome. Dr. Leah Byrne, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh and Ben Shaberman, Senior Director of Communications, FFB shed light on the latest research. Another interesting tidbit of information was the My Retina Tracker Registry. The voluntary registry is designed to help accelerate the discovery of treatments and cures for those with inherited retinal diseases.

When We connect Featured Image Description:

A photo collage of images from the event. Left to right, the first photo is a blue and white FFB vertical banner. The only text I can read is Foundation Fighting Blindness and their website address. The second photo (top right) is the jam-packed hotel meeting room filled with people sitting at round tables. There is a big screen at the far right of the room where they shared a PowerPoint presentation. The third photo is the FFB registration table just outside if the meeting room.