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On Being Legally Blind

On Being Legally Blind image description is in the body of the post.

Are those who are ‘legally blind’ able to hold a job? And if so, what fields would you advise them to enter?  

On Being Legally Blind Q&A 

Recently I was interviewed by my friend and fellow blogger Wendy Robinson of Wendy’s Written WordsIt’s so nice to take trips down memory lane to see how far we’ve progressed. Following are a couple of snippets from the post. You can access the entire article here: On Being Legally Blind A Q&A

Are those who are ‘legally blind’ able to hold a job? And if so, what fields would you advise them to enter? 

This is a question I’m deeply passionate about. Yes, people who legally blind or partially-sighted can hold a job, so can people who are totally blind. The idea that people who are partially sighted or totally blind cannot hold a job is a myth. In answer to what fields? I don’t feel qualified to give advice in this area except to say, ‘find your passion and pursue it’. No one is an expert at everything! With the exception of being a driver or pilot, sight or lack of sight has nothing to do with being able to hold a job.

You have been so successful that you are generously helping others with advice on mixing and matching items in their wardrobe. Can you expand on that? 

We cannot simply look at a person and think we know their story. We are complex creatures and there is so much more to us than mere appearance. My desire to change perceptions is why I share what I know, with respect to style, from personal experience.

No doubt you need help to get to appointments, social functions, and gatherings, shopping et al. Do you have designated drivers? How do you feel in losing your independence and having to depend on others?   

As far as independence, I refocused my thinking to what I am able to do vs. what I could do prior to my sight loss. For me, this boils down to choice and I choose not to view myself as dependent. Everyone is skilled or deficient in some manner and I choose to promote my strengths.

On Being Legally Blind Q&A Image Description:

White Q&A text and white question marks sprinkled throughout are on a multi-shaded navy blue background.

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Reflecting Back Can Help Forge The Path Ahead

Golden hour glass. sitting atop sand with a with background. The sand is filtering through.

Back Down Memory Lane

Reflecting back really helps to put life in perspective. Like many people in my age group, my memory is fading and I struggle daily. Because Alzheimer’s runs in my family, it’s important to me to get as much done as possible. Looking back helps me to see how far I’ve come and confirms the path I’ve chosen.

The following lightly edited article was originally published to VisionAware a few years back when I became a Peer Advisor. If memory serves it was probably around the time I began Bold Blind Beauty. While many things have changed since this article was published, overall I’m pleased with the progress to date.

Stephanae (Steph) McCoy

A Look Back Selfie description is in the body of the post

Eight years ago, going blind was not on Stephanae (Steph) McCoy’s bucket list. Since life threw her this curveball, however, how was she to continue her plan to change the world? Life produced the formula: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) + Life-Altering Event = World Changed!

Steph, always a little quirky, began with picky eating and excessive hand washing. Her behaviors progressed to extreme cleaning and a driven purposefulness that would make the TV character, Monk, weep. After losing most of her eyesight, Steph credits OCD for making the situation bearable thanks to many regimented routines. After developing macular holes, cataractsglaucoma, and becoming legally blind, Steph is still striving to change the world by:

  • Serving on the Board of Directors of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh
  • Serving as a Low Vision Committee Member and Chair of the Publicity Committee of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind
  • Member of the Committee for Accessible Transportation (paratransit service)
  • Fundraising Committee Member of the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind (GTCB)
  • Led a team in raising over $10,000 in donations to finance research for Foundation Fighting Blindness
  • Campaigning for an international low vision awareness effort
  • Publicly speaking at various organizations on a range of vision loss issues

Because Steph is a single-minded, determined, advocate, and conqueror, it made sense that she would find a way to face losing her vision head-on by promoting low vision awareness and creating an open dialog to dispel societal myths on blindness and visual impairment. Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Steph’s vision is to educate and alter the mindset of how people view others with disabilities, and to that end, she is changing the world, one conversation at a time.

A Look Back Image Description: 

A selfie of me wearing a long-sleeve white tee with a gray vest and a Low Vision pin. I’m also sporting one of my favorite black asymmetrical wigs, the hair slightly covers my left eye. My makeup in this photo is mainly eyeliner and lip balm. A small section of my red couch is behind me as is a standing floor lamp.

For additional information:

 Visit Steph’s LinkedIn profile.

Read blog posts by Steph McCoy on the Visually Impaired: Now What? blog.

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3 Steps In Choosing To Rise

“Shame was the reason I decided to describe myself as ‘blind’ versus ‘visually impaired’ because it was important for me to accept the word ‘blind’. Once I did this I was able to get a grip on my fear and move forward.”

Image description is in the body of the post.I’m not sure why I felt shame when I lost my eyesight but I think it was closely tied to my personal biases and lack of understanding where blindness was concerned. In walking through the process of sight loss and facing my shame/fear head-on I was able to move forward.

Do you Face Everything And Run? Or Face Everything And Rise? Fear can motivate or repress and your response is a matter of choice.

Choosing To Rise:

  • The first step is doing an honest self-assessment. Like following a map, unless you know yourself, you will get lost.
  • The next step is to set short and long-term goals. Goals should always be written, periodically reviewed, revised and once they are met, new ones should be set.
  • The third and final step is to stay the course. When you get derailed, get back on track and keep pursuing your dreams. Do not let anyone, tell you that you cannot succeed.

When it gets down to it the choice is up to you. You decide how to navigate your path to success.

Image: Abigail (Abby) is in the background of the text with her white cane and handbag.

Happy Monday Everyone!

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Karen Rowie

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” ~C. S. Lewis

Today I felt moved to talk about a friend of mine who probably doesn’t even know how she’s affected my life. When I think of the paradox of how fearful I was of blindness, then enduring my vision loss, I sometimes wonder if becoming friends with a blind girl somehow prepared me for what was yet to come.

My very first personal foray into the world of blindness was when I introduced myself to Karen Rowie. Karen was a couple of years younger than I and I remember when the neighborhood kids would be playing outside Karen would sit alone on her porch.

I would love to be able to say that it was on my initiative that I met Karen when in fact my mother instructed me to do so. My mother and I always had somewhat of a strained relationship but this one simple act of kindness, she demanded I do, would change my life in such a way that even today I still feel the impact.

It was with trepidation that I approached the steps to Karen’s porch and I was seething with anger that my mother was making me do something that felt so uncomfortable. Fear of saying or doing the wrong thing enveloped me like a cloak because the only prior exposure I had to blindness was what I learned in school about Helen Keller.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” Henri Nouwen

One of the things I didn’t understand about Karen, and until recently didn’t know there was even a word for it, was that she exhibited blindisms. Blindisms are behaviors sometimes found in blind children such as body rocking, head swaying and eye rubbing. I don’t know why Karen moved like she did and after I got to know her it really didn’t matter.

After I got over my initial awkwardness of meeting Karen, I enjoyed hanging out with her. We would go to the movies (I would narrate), take the bus into the city (Pittsburgh) and go to what is now called the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children.

Karen’s parents were very protective of her and because of this she was not allowed to leave the porch. So I would sit with her while she would read to me one of her Braille books or I would do likewise with a printed version. At times some of the other neighborhood kids would come by as well and Karen would get so excited to have attention lavished upon her.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Karen was such a sweet person and I may not have known it then but I realize that having her come into my life was a defining moment. What I learned from my friendship with her was that she was like any other kid who wanted to laugh, play, go to the movies and be accepted by her peers. I also learned that Karen’s blindness was only one of many characteristics which added to her uniqueness.

It’s been many years since I’ve last seen Karen and wherever you are I just want to thank you for being my friend. If by chance you see this post please contact me by email at

Thank you


“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” ~Helen Keller