MEN IN MOTION
Bold Blind Beauty, home of Beyond Sight Magazine, is an empowering online community that connects blind and sighted people while eradicating misconceptions about blindness and sight loss. We’ve found that when we are open to the idea of limitless possibilities our preconceived notions dissipate. The people we feature aren’t extraordinary because they are living with sight loss, however, they’ve worked hard to adapt to a new way of living. Today, in our September Men In Motion, you’ll meet Joe Strechay a producer and consultant who shares excellent insight into creating the life you want to live. We’ve also provided a transcript of the YouTube audio below. Enjoy!
Hello, I’m Joe Strechay. I’m a producer and consultant. I’ve done my undergraduate work at East Carolina University in North Carolina. My graduate work at Florida State. I’ve worked in the area with blindness organizations, managing them, running them, but also teaching people how to travel through orientation and mobility. Using the white cane. I’ve also worked within individuals and daily living skills and helping young people transition from school to work or college.
It’s been many different roles in that arena. But I’m also a producer in the entertainment field and I’ve worked on such productions as Netflix, Marvel’s Daredevil, The OA, and then Apple TV+ SEE. I’ve worked with theater productions. I’ve worked with commercials. I’ve worked with also books and advising around the portrayal of blindness and how blindness is presented often in my world.
And I’m totally blind. And my undergraduate is around communications and studying media affects it, and how smaller populations and minority populations navigate through the world of entertainment. And I’ve been able to, through my graduate work around blindness orientation, mobility, and teaching children and adults who are blind or visually impaired, and the transition from school to work. Been able to look at other aspects and how disability is portrayed and more specifically blindness and visual impairment. And getting to work with productions to portray blindness in a more responsible and respectful way.
Besides the portrayal side of things, I’ve also worked on accessibility of productions. Making sure that the production is accessible to individuals who are blind or low vision, but other disabilities as well. So that has been a cool venture kind of bringing all my aspects of training and experience to the table.
Why does it matter to me, the portrayal of blindness and talking about blindness? Because I know, when I was watching films … I lost my vision and I was legally blind at 19 and continue to lose vision. And now I’ve been totally blind for a number of years and seeing those portrayals and not seeing myself in them and not seeing people that are powerful and cool and independent and doing different things. You often see people who are blind in a bed needing assistance or on a side of the road, asking for things or just walking by, where the main thing is that they’re a person who’s blind.
And it doesn’t show them as parents and villains and lovers and warriors and all the above and all the things, the professions that people who are blind or low vision are out there doing which they are doing pretty much everything, but airline pilot, really. I can tell you, I’ve been with some taxi drivers and Uber drivers, I’m pretty sure they were legally blind.
So I’ve been able to work in the entertainment field and work with productions and the studios, and others to help make sure that there’s that respect and understanding and be a part of the process. And I think we’ve come a long way and I’m sure we’ll continue on that road. My consulting work with the American Printing House for the Blind, who is an organization that I can’t say enough about.
Around a nonprofit in the United States, there are a few that I would really say is making things happen. And they took on a series of websites, web programs, FamilyConnect, Career Connect, VisionAware from the American Foundation for the Blind. And I’m so happy that CareerConnect found a home and Family Connect with VisionAware, because these are resources that help change people’s lives. And I worked on a CareerConnect for about seven years and a number of years ago, and so I get to help, consult and work with American Printing House during my off times to help make sure that it continues and APH believes in it and believes in these programs and know that they make a difference.
So I’m excited to help with that. But I also do speaking engagements, mostly aimed at young people who are blind or low vision in the employment process. And the lessons I learned while losing vision, and then later on being legally blind and then after that, navigating the employment world, the ups, and downs, and you can find some of my other videos on YouTube, in my channel talking about those ups and downs and the funny things that happen, but also the upsetting things.
I really think it’s important to realize that even the most successful people who are blind or low vision are out there in the world, have tough days, and have navigated obstacles and they get frustrated too.
One of my favorite sayings or tips is, you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. And the more we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the more comfortable we become. They’re going to be all kinds of situations in your lives or life as a person who’s blind or low vision as a person with disabilities. I grew up with a severe learning disability besides losing my vision. So I’ve seen different sides of it and how disability impacts your life. And I’ve been lucky enough to have the training that allowed me to be successful.
I really, really appreciate it, and I’ll continue to work. I’m a consultant. So I have to create my business and work with organizations and businesses to help them meet their needs. I’m providing services, whether it’s content writing, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s assisting them in connections, all of these different aspects are pieces of my work. I don’t believe in just letting things happen to me. So I definitely have a strong internal locus of control versus an external locus of control.
Internal locus of control meaning, I take control of my life. I control my destiny. External locus of control, meaning that people at the world, we let things happen to us. We let things determine, or other forces, other people determine our path and destiny. I believe that we have control in our destiny. So I would say if you’re out there in the world and you’re listening to this, take control of your destiny to create your path.
There are so many different opportunities out there in the world today. And I’ve been lucky enough to move into the world of entertainment or we’re still working in the world of blindness, and the community. And so I’m proud of that. So don’t stay still or be comfortable with the uncomfortable and keep pushing forward. My blindness, I used technology to make up for my blindness. I use my training with the white cane and travel and skills and abilities, and I’m able to advocate for myself. And I know when I’m going to educate and create awareness.
I don’t always go to the negative. I start with the positive and keep pushing on. I think 99% of your interactions with people will be positive. And you got to keep trying to educate and create awareness in a positive manner. And then there are times where you have to step up. But I also do a lot of speaking around employment and interacting with employers and the employment process. And you want to stay positive, you want to create those opportunities and you want to sell people on who you are and what you will bring to that organization.
You want to keep, create trust between you and that employer. And I’ve been lucky enough to learn that through a lot of different lessons and mistakes in my life. I’m not perfect and I’ll never be perfect. But I knew what I’m good at. And I know where my skills lie. I also know where my weaknesses are. And I continue to try to make those weaknesses better or stronger. And then I look to enhance my skills and keep learning and keep putting myself out there.
Thank you for your time. I wish you the best. And just some thoughts from me. You can check out my other videos on my YouTube channel. Again, my name is Joe Strechay. I’m a producer and a consultant, and I wish you the bes
Connecting With Joe:
- YouTube @JoeStrechay
- Instagram @JoeStrechay
Joe Strechay is a producer And consultant to entertainment productions, theatre, publishers, government agencies and non-profits while being blind. He has worked to bring accessibility to television and film productions for persons of all disabilities.He has managed a state bureau, a website, and transition services. He has been an instructor to thousands of people who are blind or low vision around skills for independence. Joe did his undergraduate work at East Carolina University and his graduate work at Florida State University. Him and his fantastic wife live in Pennsylvania.
Featured image is the Beyond Sight Magazine cover. Joe Strechay is on the cover wearing a blue and gray shirt. He has dark shoulder-length hair and a goatee. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 5 lines of text that say “Joe Strechay Television Consultant & Producer Extraordinare.” In the bottom left corner is a teal circle with an illustration of a blind man in motion with his white cane and “Men In Motion” is in yellow text under the circle.
- Cover by Daniel Lubiner