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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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Vanity & Vision Loss

A Precautionary Tale On Fashion Contacts

“Eyes are captivatingly beautiful. Not because of the color but because of the words they hold within them.” ~Unknown

A single eye with a blue, red and green color wheel covering the iris.Eyesight, so many of us take it for granted and without a second thought, in an attempt to change our appearance we’ll do things that are detrimental to our vision. Such is the case of a young woman who recently filed a lawsuit due to legal blindness from the use of cosmetic contact lenses she purchased at a flea market.

Colored contacts for cosmetic use are packaged under different names (decorative, Halloween, doll-eyed, theatrical, etc.) but they all change the appearance of the iris. Here in the U.S., all contacts (corrective or non-corrective) are considered medical devices and a prescription is required for their use.

The risks associated with cosmetic contact lenses are the same as prescription contacts. Some of these risks include corneal scratches, conjunctivitis, infection, decreased vision, and as in the case of the young woman in the article, blindness.

The link to the article is at the end of this post however, I want to share a few tips to keep in mind when using contact lenses.

  • Always get a prescription for cosmetic contacts
  • Wash your hands before handling lenses
  • Never share contacts with another person
  • Only use contact lens solution for cleaning and storing lenses
  • Follow the doctor’s instructions

Article: Lubbock Woman Files Lawsuit After Blindness Caused By Flea Market Contact Lenses

Have a great Monday!!

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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!