When we share our stories we go beyond giving hope—we offer confirmation and affirmation that life is not over because of sight loss. Shoulder to shoulder we stand, a network offering a human bridge to carry others through their sight loss. ~Sue Lichtenfels, President, PA Council of the Blind
Thursday evening was the opening session of the 82nd Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB). I was so excited for this year’s 4-day event because it was hosted in my hometown of Pittsburgh which meant I could easily travel to and from the hotel each day. Adding to my excitement was the anticipation of reconnecting with friends from across the state and meeting new people I’ve only before met in social media settings.
Sue Lichtenfels, President of PCB, opened the conference with a powerful and heartfelt message on transition. Our new tagline “PCB, A Peer Network for All Impacted by Vision Loss” extends beyond just those of us who are living with sight loss to include family, friends, caregivers, and professionals in the field.
As I listened to Sue speak I thought back to my personal transition from living with sight to learning how to live without it. Like the flame of hope shriveling up and dying, back then it seemed everything in my life was dependent upon my eyesight and I couldn’t see past the dark days that threatened to consume me.
Crossing the bridge to grab hold of my new life without sight by becoming involved with PCB saved my life. I met and befriended so many positive, passionate people who were living their purpose and it’s because of them my view of the world has changed. Even when life doesn’t go as planned I’m more appreciative of the beauty surrounding me.
At this year’s conference I was excited to once again be a part of an organization working to improve the lives of those who live with blindness. Even though I got sick, lost my voice, and could only attend a portion of the event, I was able to represent Bold Blind Beauty in the exhibit hall. It was here where I spoke (or rather whispered) the importance of how we as blind people can live fulfilling and productive lives while eradicating misconceptions around blindness and sight loss.
Like our stylish fashion icon Abigale, being confident and radiating a positive attitude of empowerment despite our blindness enables us to navigate the world with our white canes or guide dogs and our heads held high. Being Bold, Blind, and Beautiful is less about how we look and more about who we are. When we are beautiful on the inside it shines forth on the outside.