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From Development To Delivery: An Inclusive Presentation’s Journey

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CANE ENABLED

An Unexpected Opportunity

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

~Dwight D. Eisenhower
Image is described in the body of the post.

Recently, Bold Blind Beauty (BBB) was invited to present at The Level Up High School Conference for students living with sight loss. The conference sponsored by Envision is designed to prepare students to successfully transition from high school to college and career. 

Creating a presentation on the topic of “Leadership Development” can be a challenging exercise for the best of us. So the planning process began by asking the event organizers if I could co-present with another BBB representative. While I was capable of presenting on my own, I’ve learned that partnering with others is an essential element to success.

Since joining BBB last year, Nasreen Bhutta has been very instrumental in helping me build a great team of people. So requesting her to co-present with me was as natural as breathing. Together, with a little extra ingenuity, we would design an inclusive virtual delivery to engage our teen audience. As low vision presenters ourselves, the added benefit to our presentation was our shared experience of sight loss with the students. In this scenario, our topic was even more relevant because we modeled leadership in real-life while presenting.

The Best Laid Plans

I can see your notes.

~Presentation Attendee

‘Bone-chilling’ was the phrase that came to mind as we began our presentation. Hearing someone say they can see your notes has to be a speaker’s worst nightmare. Yet, this is exactly what happened when I shared my screen during our video conference.

The path from brainstorming ideas to creating the end product was lined with obstacles. Navigating these hurdles meant looking at them as opportunities where problem-solving would become the resolution. The bottom line was even though we prepared well, our plans went sideways and we easily improvised.

How did improv work in our situation? During the practice session, I wasn’t able to run the presentation full-screen and view my notes simultaneously. The answer was to incorporate this as an authentic example to show the students how to carry on. What we weren’t prepared for, however, was during our talk, the audience could actually see my speaker’s notes. At this point, we did the only thing we could do, Nasreen and I both winged it. Being familiar with our slides allowed us to continue without showing the audience my notes.

Our carefully crafted presentation strategy did not go as planned. Yet I think to some degree it was a better experience for our audience, as well as Nasreen, and I. Since we couldn’t run the slideshow in full-screen mode, we chose to explain each step of the screen sharing process with the students. Tailoring our presentation by explaining our steps to fulfill the needs of an audience living with sight loss enabled all to be engaged.

Life Imitating Art Authentically

It’s no accident that during the live session our actions mirrored our presentation titled “BBB’s 3-Ps To Entrepreneurship.” Every step along the way since starting Bold Blind Beauty it’s always been about authenticity in:

  • Planning – where are you going and how are you going to get there?
  • Persevering – what does it take to persevere?
  • Partnership – what are the benefits of not going it alone?

“Improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another” is an extraordinary mission that can only be fulfilled by extraordinary people. Staying focused on our why makes it easy for BBB to sustain our passion for advocacy in everything we do. We believe that people who are blind or low vision are as valuable as those who aren’t. The only difference between those who can see and those who can’t is we do things a little differently. To clearly demonstrate to our young audience how they can achieve their career goals was an extraordinary opportunity.

Image Descriptions:

  • The header image is a closeup of a speaker’s microphone looking out into a blurred room full of people.
  • A photo grid with two images (one of Steph and one of Nasreen). Both are dressed in black business attire with Steph standing at a podium and Nasreen posed standing for the camera.
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Connect • Engage • Act

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CANE ENABLED

Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share an amazing opportunity for high school students living with vision loss. Following is information from the Level Up Virtual Conference flyer along with a link to the PDF.

We are equally thrilled to participate in this year’s virtual event on Friday, June 26. To see how this program empowers youth check out this article: Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose

Connect • Engage • Act

It is our vision to provide additional support and college/career transition to high school students from across the United States and other countries to inspire them to gain independence and have the confidence they need to set the goals they aspire to achieve.

By bringing students with vision loss together, this virtual event will help them to CONNECT, ENGAGE and ACT on what they learn; it will set the stage for their success in the world today.

For more information about this Virtual Conference contact Bonnie Cochran at
316-440-1510 or bonnie.cochran@envisonus.com

ENVISION | 610 N. Main St., Wichita, KS 67203 | www.envisionus.com

To improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.

Header Image Description:

  • Image credit: Envision
  • The header incorporates graphic elements including an orange internet icon, a black arrow pointing upward, and a blue/green Envision logo. The text says “Level Up Virtual Conference for High School Students | June 22-26, 2020 Wichita, KS”
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Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose

Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.”

~Jay Danzie

Envision 2019 Level Up Conference

From the moment we arrived at the Wichita State University (WSU) campus we knew we were in good hands. Baylee Almos, a Delta Gamma sorority member was our campus guide and an excellent resource for all our needs.

Envision 2019 Level Up Conference is a week-long training for blind or visually impaired students from across the U.S. Hosted at WSU, students receive valuable skills they need to successfully transition from high school to college and/or career.

From morning to night the well-organized event provided plenty of student activities. Keynote speaker Jessica Loomer opened the conference Sunday afternoon with a very inspirational and motivational speech about perspective. In her speech, she shared her personal journey of losing her sight to LHON. What was really helpful was some of the real life on the job examples she provided. “It’s Just Coffee” mentioned throughout Jessica’s speech became a mantra for many of us who listened to her.

Sunday evening offered everyone the opportunity to let their hair down at the Level Up Live Kick Off. Described as a social oasis and multimedia venue WAVE located in downtown Wichita is an eclectic indoor/outdoor hotspot. The entertainment space is huge and creatively incorporates recycled materials. There was plenty of singing, dancing, eating, laughing, and mingling with Envision staff, volunteers, and students. What a fun way to kick-off such a memorable week.

Empowering Leader With a Heart of Gold

Meeting up with Chelsea Nguyen, of CN Vision Image Consulting for the first time was incredible. Our shared values and a mutual desire to create a more inclusive world are the driving forces in our friendship. Meeting Chelsea in-person at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was an unbelievable experience for me that almost didn’t happen. You see, the first time she asked me to attend the conference with her I declined. Thankfully she didn’t give up on me and asked me to reconsider.

Chelsea is one of the most genuinely loving, compassionate, and empathetic people I’ve ever encountered. From our first meeting where she hugged me she did the same with Every. Single. Person. We. Met. Chelsea’s passion for people with disabilities is extraordinary. 

CN Vision Image Consulting’s purpose at the conference was to connect, empower, inspire, and train students. Empowering blind and visually impaired young people was a wonderful opportunity for Chelsea and our team. The team representing CN Vision Image Consulting were The Blind Blogger, Maxwell Ivey Jr.; Jeremy Bostic, and moi.

A hairstylist by trade, Chelsea is an excellent image consultant, educator, speaker, and motivator. She has a way with people that makes them feel like they can accomplish anything they desire. What touches me about Chelsea is just how easily she is able to express how deeply she cares about others. 

Chelsea does not have a disability. What she does have is an honest, heartfelt ability to empathize with those who do. Inclusion and accessibility are very important to her. Listening to her speak at the event gave me chills.

This small clip is just a glimpse into how Chelsea motivates:

Continue to shine

Modeling Positive & Passionate Leadership Behavior

Envision Leaders, Bonnie Cochran, and Hannah Christenson were extremely instrumental in keeping the program on track throughout the week. These two women who never missed a beat had inexhaustible energy to keep pace with their young charges.

There was very little downtime within the well-structured agenda. Every day after breakfast everyone attended the general session. Three sessions throughout the day (morning, afternoon, and evening) followed the general session with meals in between. After dinner, the students went to their evening sessions.

Our team’s presentation took place on Tuesday morning with an extended version in the evening. As representatives of CN Vision Image Consulting, we trained the students on non-visual grooming & hygiene techniques, professional and soft skills. During the evening training, there was a co-ed hands-on demo then we broke out into boy/girl groups. In the groups, the boys learned how to tie a tie and the girls learned how to apply makeup.

The student’s readiness for the college and career expo was evident as they demonstrated the new skills they recently acquired. It was at the expo where they performed their elevator pitches, networked and toured the Envision facility. The evening prior they enjoyed networking and a four-course meal.

I can’t tell you how good it felt watching these young people increase their confidence by learning these new skills. All of the staff, volunteers, and guests modeled a positive can-do attitude which showed the students limitless possibilities.

The Envision 2019 Level Up Conference was a life-changing event for everyone who participated. I can hardly wait to write additional content about Envision and the work they do. This company really walks the talk to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired people.

The Lasting Impression

Everyone who participated in the conference was there instill the skills these brilliant young people will need to succeed. Witnessing the transformation of these remarkable young people was extremely poignant. As they voluntarily stood to give personal testimonials about how our team impacted them proved the value of the training. Thanks go out to Envision and WSU for their warm hospitality. Also, thank you, students, for working with us and for your feedback.

This post began with an empowering quote about leaving a lasting impression. I think it’s safe to say that everyone we’ve connected with accomplished this task!

Empowering Young People Featured Image Description: 

An in-flight photo of the partially visible interior airplane window frame and engine in the foreground. The window looks out into a blue sky and a bed of puffy white clouds.

Additional Images:

  1. Jessica & Starbucks: Jessica Loomer is standing in the auditorium between two Starbucks representatives. She has long dark hair and is wearing a white sleeveless dress. Each of them is holding Starbucks coffee cups. The Starbucks representatives provided coffee for the opening day.
  2. Dorm Check-in: Check-in at the registration desk on the WSU campus. Max is standing with his white cane. Jeremy is talking with the receptionist and Chelsea is speaking with our awesome Delta Gamma volunteer, Baylee Almos.
  3. Hubbard Hall: A photo of the auditorium prior to Jessica’s keynote address. There is a floor to ceiling movie screen at the front of the room.
  4. WAVE: An indoor photo of Wave with a few students milling about. The building design incorporates storage containers.
  5. Shocker Diner Evacuation: Students, staff, volunteers, and guests are outside at the meeting location doing a roll call.
  6. Chelsea Speaking: Chelsea is giving a motivational speech at the dinner on Thursday evening. She’s wearing a blue dress accented with a silver statement necklace.