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Living Life To The Fullest | Tekesha Saffold

Cover image is described in the body of the post.

WOMEN ON THE MOVE

Introduction:

Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty and Beyond Sight Magazine, an online community where Real Beauty Transcends Barriers. Our Women On The Move segments focus on monthly profiles of inspirational women; their capabilities, achievements, and their journeys as they navigate through the course of sight loss and blindness.

I’m your host, Nasreen. For our July 2020 segment of Women On The Move, our featured guest is the lovely diva herself, Miss Tekesha Saffold. Hi, Tekesha. Welcome.

“Living life to its fullest,” that’s her mantra. And she’s a former contestant of the Ms. Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant. She’s a disability advocate, role model and mentor, and a captain of the Braille Bandits, just to name a few of her extraordinary things she has done thus far. And also, she was our Monthly Beauty for the month of May.

So let’s all give a warm welcome to Tekesha.

Interview with Tekesha Saffold & Nasreen Bhutta

Transcription

Tekesha Saffold:

Hello. I’m so excited to be with you all this afternoon.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?

Tekesha Saffold:

Takesha Saffold Photo #2
Tekesha Saffold Photo #2

Well, I was born and raised in Palm Beach County, Florida, I reside currently in Riviera Beach, and I was born to a pretty large family. My grandmother had eight kids. My father is a seventh out of eight kids. I’m the oldest. I have a younger sister and I have four brothers. I went to local schools here in Riviera Beach, and I graduated from Suncoast Community High School and worked in various jobs.

Later on in life, at the age of 26, I became visually impaired from retina detachment. And so from there, I had to be rehabilitated, learning various things to make me as independent as I am now. I joined the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which I joined the local chapter here in Palm Beach County, and I immediately was voted in on the board. I became treasurer the following year, and I have served as president for the NFB of Palm Beach over the last six years.

Also, during that time, I attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where I majored in social work. And I’m involved in so many different things. I consider myself a consumer advocate for the disabled community, which I have served as the liaison for our disabled community in the city of Riviera Beach.

Throughout my journey, I’ve had various experiences of traveling various places and being involved in various things, which some of those things I’m quite sure I will be sharing with you all.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Let’s just go back to when you first were diagnosed with the, I guess it’s ROP, at the age of 26. I mean, that’s a young age. You’re just finishing college, just starting life really. How did that make you feel?

Tekesha Saffold:

At that age, 26, which was a very fun time for me being sighted. I was working, I was working two jobs at the time, I was living independently, and I was driving. And for myself, I never thought that I would be visually impaired.

So it just sort of happened out of nowhere, within two weeks. I was losing eyesight. And I thought, maybe, like many others, I thought that I would regain my sight at some point because I was in denial. But it’s a life changing experience at that age. Definitely.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So you love to travel. What has been your favorite place to travel to thus far?

Tekesha Saffold:

Let’s see. There are so many places that I have enjoyed visiting, but I would have to say visiting Washington DC has been one of my favorite places I have visited, primarily for advocacy purposes for the NFB Washington Seminar. I’ve been able to attend quite a few times, and I enjoy the atmosphere and the culture and things of that nature.

And I have to just include one other place. I love New York city. I cannot forget about New York.

Takesha Photo #3
Tekesha Photo 3

Nasreen Bhutta:

Me too. Any tips for first time travelers?

Tekesha Saffold:

I would say to not be nervous or afraid, and don’t be afraid of asking. Planning and organizing it, how you want to do it from step-by-step certainly would help the journey. Not just sort of spontaneously getting up and traveling, but just sort of mapping things out. But confidence is key. So if you have the confidence, you will certainly have the ability to feel comfortable with moving around using your cane and just being comfortable with asking people for assistance if you need to.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Can you tell us a little bit about the Just Us Blind Girls initiative?

Tekesha Saffold:

Yes. I want to say in 2011, I went to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Miss Virginia Gray, who was the founder of Just Us Blind Girls, because it originates from out of Atlanta, Georgia. I attended a conference in it in 2012 in Palm Beach County. Myself, along with other women, we hosted a conference here as well. I wouldn’t say it died out, but the participation was low.

And so when I graduated in 2017, I was asked if I would like to carry the name in Palm Beach County and facilitate a support group for blind and visually impaired women, just to discuss some of our challenges that we have. I also bring in guest speakers. I call them “sheroes”, women who are heroes in our blind community and who set an example and who are doing things in their community to make a difference. But primarily, it’s a sisterhood of women where we can support one another; how we can turn those challenges into actual things that can be celebrated.

Nasreen Bhutta:

First of all, is that remote or is it onsite? And is it just in the Florida area?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, since this pandemic, we have been meeting remotely, which has been a benefit to our support group because we’ve been able to invite many other women from other areas. So there’s no geographical restrictions. We meet every third Wednesday of the month, which I can provide the conference call number that we use, which is 2539933677.

So we invite any visually impaired or blind female, or just any women in general who’s interested in knowing more information, and we plan to have many guest speakers in the near future.

Nasreen Bhutta:

You also took part in the Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant. What was that experience like for you?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, that experience was a great experience. I would have to say, first of all, when I was a contestant in the pageant, which is in 2018, I was the only contestant that was out of state. So it was interesting for myself flying back and forth to Newark, New Jersey, which I had to fly for various workshops and practices that we had. So it gave me an opportunity to be in a different area that I never traveled, and also to meet other women and to know that there are other women who are involved and who are doing things in their community, and just meeting new friends. So it was certainly a great experience and I would encourage anyone to take on any type of activities or different opportunities that we do have in our blind community throughout the country.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Were you crowned Ms. Diva?

Tekesha Saffold:

No, I wasn’t. But we had to do a video that displayed our independence. It was called the Miss Independent YouTube Challenge. And so I think I got about 2100 views, but I was crowned Miss Independent for the YouTube challenge. So I looked at that as a great win.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Who is your major influencer, would you say?

Tekesha Saffold:

I would have to say our former First Lady, Michelle Obama. I think that she’s certainly a very classy, conservative, educated female, and she certainly inspired me in many ways.

Nasreen Bhutta:

And how do you define success and failure?

Tekesha Saffold:

Success shouldn’t be measured as to how large the accomplishment is. I mean, I think that if I could lose a couple of pounds, that’s a success for me.

I would say that to count the small things and don’t be so hard on yourself, just look at it as it’s a learning experience, and how can you better in that area? And I think that failure, in my opinion, is not an option, even if it’s just taking a couple of steps back, because sometimes in life we adjust back and forth, back and forth, but as long as you continue to have the determination to move forward, that’s where you’re succeeding, no matter if it’s just a small step ahead.

So I just look at those things as just having a positive attitude and outlook on anything that you do in life.

Nasreen Bhutta:

And what do you foresee in longterm goals? What is next for you?

Tekesha Saffold:

There’s quite a few different things. I hope to pursue further education. I’m always looking for various employment opportunities. And I’m also in the process of writing a book on just my experience in different aspects of my life and in marriage.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So how can we reach you Tekesha?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, I am on Facebook. My Facebook name is T. Nicole Saffold (S-A-F-F-O-L-D). I also have a LinkedIn profile, which is my name, Tekesha Saffold. You can also find me on Instagram at TK Saffold. And also my email address, which is tnsaffold82@gmail.com.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible and insightful journey with us.

You’ll be able to find Tekesha’s story in Beyond Sight Magazine, under Women On The Move for July 2020, at www.boldblindbeauty.com.

Thanks for listening.

Bio:

Tekesha Saffold has served for six years as President of the Palm Beach Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and formerly served on the state board of the NFB for two years, which has been guided by strong, committed, and passionate leadership since 1940.  She has been visually impaired for about 12 years and is a passionate consumer advocate in Palm Beach County, where she was born and raised.  The owner and founder of Saffold’s Consultant Service, LLC, she has helped organize campaigns for various politicians and their causes in South Florida.

Among Saffold’s advocacy projects are providing ADA sensitivity training to employers and serving as an advocate for the local transportation system as a member of the Local Coordinating Board for Transportation Disadvantage, which focuses on transportation needs of the disadvantaged in our community, including individuals with physical and economic challenges and seniors.  In addition, she facilitates a support group for Just Us Blind Girls to mentor and empower blind and visually impaired women in Palm Beach County. She is also involved with community service projects through the Lake Worth Lions International Club to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.

Outside of her professional activities, Saffold plays beep baseball and is the captain for the Braille Bandits of Palm Beach County, which played in the 2019 World Series in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys traveling the world, whether it is legislating in Washington, D.C. for various issues pertaining to the civil and equal rights for individuals who are disabled or being a former contestant for the Ms. Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant in Newark, New Jersey.  

Saffold, who lives in Riviera Beach, Florida, graduated with honors from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton with a bachelor’s degree in social work and will be pursuing a master’s degree in public administration.  One of the most important roles in her life is being the mother of a beautiful young lady who is currently pursuing her dreams and art and other crafts. She lives life to its fullest potential and anticipates other opportunities in the near future.  

Image Descriptions:

  • Beyond Sight Magazine Cover. Tekesha is on the cover wearing a red Express sweetheart long sleeve dress with an Aldo purse with hearts and matching pumps. Heart-shaped earrings with glittery eyeshadow and soft pink lipstick from Sephora. 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 3 lines of white text that say “Auditioning for Bold, Blind, and Beautiful.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby rollerblading. She has on a black crop tank top complete with her logo on the front with black shorts, and gray & teal roller blades. And of course, Abby wouldn’t be Abby without her signature explosive hairstyle, and “Women On The Move” is yellow text under the circle.
  • Tekesha is wearing a beautiful white spaghetti strap dress that has floral sequences in bright colors, soft pink open toe heels with fur along the toes and glitter on the heel, rose gold accessories with a hint of rhinestones in the earrings to bring out her beautiful makeup by Sephora.
  • Tekesha is wearing a bright yellow maxi dress with a Tory Burch rose gold purse and sandals and other rose gold accessories which bring out her beautiful makeup by Sephora. 
CREDITS:
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Auditioning for Bold, Blind, and Beautiful

Cover photo image 1 is described in the body of the article.

WOMEN ON THE MOVE

Editor’s Note:

I met Sylvia Stinson-Perez at an event in New Jersey earlier in the year and was immediately drawn to her. As I grew to learn more about her it was her authentic beauty that was so magnetic to me. When I first read Sylvia’s Women On The Move article I was deeply moved as her words resonated with me very much. After an extremely difficult past week on reading her story again this morning, parts of it felt like my own and I was reminded of my personal value. We can be so caught up in trying to be like everyone else we can fail to see our unique beauty which is considerably more than our exterior. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Sylvia Stinson-Perez.

Auditioning for Bold, Blind, and Beautiful

Photo 2 is described in the body of the post.
Photo 2

As a teenager in the 1980’s, I watched the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. I wanted to be considered bold and beautiful. Like any young woman, I struggled with seeing myself as beautiful. Now, add the fact that I was also visually impaired. I had been ostracized and bullied in school because of being considered different, which resulted in me being extremely shy. In addition, like many with low vision, I spent many years trying to pretend I was sighted. Today, as a 50-year-old woman, with many experiences, challenges, and opportunities, I now understand what it really means to be a bold, blind beauty… and I count myself as someone who is still auditioning, but closer every day to getting a leading role. 

Blind is a term many are uncomfortable with, and that includes people who are severely visually impaired. I was born legally blind. It was challenging, but I had an amazingly supportive and loving family. My parents pushed me to not let my vision impairment stop me from being a “regular kid and teen”.

Success Found In Unexpected Changes

For many years it was expected that my vision would not change and I would have the benefit of being able to navigate without a cane or guide dog, read regular print-even if really close, and be able to use my vision for almost all tasks but driving. However, in my mid-20’s, shortly after getting married to my husband of almost 27 years, I started noticing declines in my vision. Test results revealed I had Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), which I knew meant eventual blindness. I was devastated… for a few months. But then I realized I had a whole life in front of me and that my visual impairment had not stopped me up to that point despite all of the challenges, so why would it let it now.

It took time, in fact, several years, but eventually, I became a proud blind person. Today I have very limited vision, not much more than light perception. And, I can honestly say, I have not let my declining vision ever stop me. I am a wife, a mother of a 20-year-old daughter, and I’ve had a great career in the blindness field.  

Positive Gains In Vision Loss

I came to understand and advocate that people who are blind are required to be more innovative, better problem-solvers, and smarter overall. We are not less because we cannot physically see. We have to learn to own blindness as a part of our characteristics, and one that makes us special and unique. I thought this is a persona I can certainly own. Yes, there are times when I feel pity, like when I have not been able to see my daughter, the beauty of nature, and even my own face anymore. But, a pity-party can only last for 15 minutes and it is back to life. Blindness has given me opportunities and strengths I am certain I would have never had as a sighted person. 

Bold to me represents being authentic and confident. As I said, I like many, experienced bullying as a young person in a public school setting where there were very few with disabilities. However, when it was time to go to college, I made a decision that I needed to be more outgoing or bold. I can admit that often I was pretending to be confident. I once heard a quote that has stuck with me:

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

~Dorothy Bernard

Most who know me think I am an outgoing and confident woman, but the reality is that there are still moments when I just say a prayer and hope for the best. I have worked hard to ensure that I have good “blindness” skills, including orientation and mobility, technology, and social skills. These skills give me confidence in my ability to work, network, socialize, and live life to the fullest. Admittedly, I spent many years pretending to be more confident than I am, but in the past few years, I have come to understand that being authentic, with my strengths and challenges, makes me more human and real to others. I have also realized that I am much bolder as myself than as a pretend persona. 

Famous Last Words

Helen Keller said, “The most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched, but are felt with the heart.” Beauty is a term that women who are blind often struggle with, especially if we cannot see ourselves. We all want to be beautiful, and coming to the realization that beauty is way more than the outside appearance is critical.

Yes, I believe looking our best is important, and you will not likely find too many who love to get all dressed up, made up and glammed up more than me. But, I have learned that beauty is more often found in my attitude and how I treat others. I still want to be seen as beautiful, but the older I get the more I realize I want to be recognized for a beautiful person who is kind, compassionate, and wise. One of my life goals has become helping others find their beauty. 

Being bold, blind and beautiful is found in being our best selves!

Connecting With Sylvia On Social Media:

Image Descriptions:

  1. Beyond Sight Magazine Cover (Photo Credit: J. David Wright). The cover image is a headshot of Sylvia all glammed up at a formal event. 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 3 lines of white text that say “Auditioning for Bold, Blind, and Beautiful.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby rollerblading. She has on a black crop tank top complete with her logo on the front with black shorts, and gray & teal roller blades. And of course, Abby wouldn’t be Abby without her signature explosive hairstyle, and “Women On The Move” is yellow text under the circle.
  2. Sylvia in front of a building shows her walking with her white cane in front of the building where she works at MSU
  3. Sylvia and daughter Olivia (Photo Credit: J. David Wright), shows her and her daughter all dressed up and attending/hosting a Dining in the Dark event in 2017. The event was hosted by Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Inc. (LVIB).
  4. Sylvia’s family pic shows Sylvia with her husband Roger and their daughter Olivia at Olivia’s high school graduation in 2017.
  5. Sylvia in Las Vegas is a recent photo (Feb. 2020) in Vegas
CREDITS:
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The Keys to Unlock the Door: Open-Mindedness & Creativity

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover is described in the body of the post.

WOMEN ON THE MOVE

Editor’s Note:

I was on a Zoom call the other day when I heard this powerful message: “One out of one people has unconscious bias.” While many of us like to believe we have no biases, as uncomfortable as it might be to admit, we all do. Today’s featured Woman On The Move, Tiffany Baylor, very eloquently takes us through how she faced her unconscious biases and emerges victoriously. In addition to her article, here is a supplemental YouTube interview with Tiffany and Bold Blind Beauty’s Nasreen Bhutta. ~Steph

I believe that the most important gift that I can share with the world is education. I do not mean handing someone a leaflet about blindness and feeling like I’ve done my part. I mean provide people the opportunity to metaphorically walk in my shoes. 

~Tiffany Baylor

Blind-Sided

Hiking Desoto Falls - image is described in the body of the post
Hiking Desoto Falls

I was diagnosed with Glaucoma just before my 30th birthday. I was already operating with only one functioning eye since birth, so as you can imagine, learning that I was going to gradually lose my sight in my second eye was quite unsettling. Although I was accepted into an excellent training program for people with adult-onset sight loss, I emotionally avoided the diagnosis, and literally avoided the Orientation and Mobility instructor who came to pre-assess me for approximately 3 months.

Coincidentally, all of the blindness-related stereotypes that I would later work to dispel were the very stereotypes that triggered my fear and hopelessness. I didn’t want the label, the diagnosis, nor to be seen as one of those “poor, helpless, blind people.” Yet, at the urging of my family, I acquiesced and boarded the little white shuttle that displayed a large, colorful “Braille Institute for the Blind” sign on its side. I took my seat among the other “poor, helpless, blind people,” as the shuttle’s back-up safety beeps advertised the bus’s departure from my neighborhood. My cover was blown. I thought, “Well, now, the whole world knows that I’m broken.”

Egg Hunt

An Eye-Opening Experience

From the first day that I attended Braille Institute, I met people who dispelled every single stereotype that I had related to living with vision loss. I met people who lived independently, who had hobbies, who wore makeup, who gardened, sewed, cooked, and even played sports! There I was thinking that my diagnosis was the precursor to an ending, when actually it was unlocking a beginning. Creativity was the key needed to unlock that beginning, and I spent the next year training and learning how to use that key.  

An Open Mind and Willing Spirit

One day while public speaking at an engagement hosted by the Braille Institute in California, I was asked to participate in the event activities as a show of support for the program. The event was the Braille Institute Youth Olympics. I laced up a pair of borrowed sneakers and took my position on the starting line of the 100-meter dash among an intimidating, powerfully built group of 16 and 17-year-olds. The starter commanded, “Runner’s to your mark . . . get set . . .” As the gun exploded, surprisingly, so did I!” I couldn’t believe that I was actually keeping up with this stampede of strapping teens! Later that afternoon, an official thanked me for coming and said, “You ought to turn your scores in.” I chuckled and thought that he was kidding, or just being polite.  

The Call

Several weeks later, I received a telephone call from a gentleman who said he was from USABA (pronounced: You-sah’-buh). Assuming he was a telemarketer, I scolded, “I already have a Samsung with High Definition in my family room, and I’m not interested in purchasing a ‘You-sah’-buh!’

 He continued, “Hello, are you, Tiffany Baylor? I am Mark Lucas of the United States Association of Blind Athletes.”  (Apparently, USABA was an acronym and not a brand of television). Mark continued still, “You attended an event in Los Angeles, and your scores were sent to me by one of the officials. Your scores are quite good. I’d like to talk to you about being a member of the USABA Track and Field Team, and attending the upcoming Pan American Games.”

USABA photo is described in the body of the post.
USABA Photo

Off To the Races

The next thing I knew, I was being flown out to South Carolina for training, to compete in an international competition involving 17 countries. I was so awe-inspired by the events. I arrived at my athlete quarters to find an official red, white, and blue uniform with “USA” proudly displayed upon it. I think I shed a tear as I carefully examined the letters with my fingers as if to verify that this was really happening. There were classifications, prelims, heats, staggered starts, and other terminology that seemed like another language. My teammates prayed and encouraged me as I faced a plethora of well-trained opponents. I enjoyed the thrill of competition, the camaraderie of the team, and the opportunity to make life-long friendships with athletes all over the world. The resulting Gold and Bronze Medals were pleasing as well.

Team USA
Team USA

After 16 years of competition, 4 International Gold Medals, 2 television appearances, torch-bearing, and being the first blind athlete to compete/and win Gold at the California State Games, residing, and training at 2 Olympic Training Centers, earning an All American National Ranking twice, and earning a Gold Medal at the US Paralympic Track and Field Trials for a slot on the USA 2012 London Paralympic Team, my most prized accomplishment is speaking to people about being bold when creating goals, and noticing that each accomplishment is a gateway to another goal. One must continuously explore which gate the ‘key’ will open next? 

The Opened Doors

While competing for the U.S. Track and Field Team, I met people who used guide dogs for mobility. After much research, discussion, and evaluation, I applied for my first Guide dog in 1997.  While traveling with the U.S. Team, I realized society’s urgent need for guide dog accessibility education. I became a member of the Guide Dog for the Blind Speakers Bureau in 1999 and began providing guide dog awareness training to community organizations and elementary schools throughout California. I continued promoting guide dog inclusion and acceptance by appearing on KUSI News in San Diego, Wake-up Clackamas County in Oregon, and Facing Florida here in the state of Florida. I presented quarterly lectures for Kaiser University’s Occupational Therapy program, instructing emerging therapists on visual impairments and considerations for service delivery. I have also been a guest lecturer for Florida State University’s course on living with visual loss, and was fortunate to provide in-service training to companies who serve people with disabilities, including a request by Florida’s Secretary of State, Ken Dexter, to provide guide dog accessibility training to his staff.

I believe that the most important gift that I can share with the world is education. I do not mean handing someone a leaflet about blindness and feeling like I’ve done my part. I mean provide people the opportunity to metaphorically walk in my shoes. Stereotypes and biases will not be squashed by someone being able to recite the three most common eye conditions. Instead, opportunities that allow people to experience how seemingly inconsequential aspects of daily living with blindness compels a person to constantly think outside-of-the-box just to participate. This way of educating the public promotes open-minded thinking and brings about true learning. When this type of instruction is combined with a free, non-judgmental forum for attendees to ask questions without the impediment of political correctness, fear of offending, or ridicule, I find that misconceptions evaporate and new foundations are constructed.

This mindset motivated me to create My Pink Cane.  My Pink Cane is an Instruction and Advocacy business specializing in training and auxiliary consultation services to businesses, Government Agencies and community groups in the surrounding Capitol region in the areas of Blindness Etiquette, Guide Dog laws, and various accommodations/tools that may be used by people who have blindness or low vision. Rather than simply lecture to the audience, I provide informative, lively, and interactive presentations that include hands-on experiences that are molded to address the specific goals, and possible hard-set misconceptions of the audience.  

Clearly, my Glaucoma diagnosis was the key to a new beginning. It has taught me to not ‘dis’ my abilities, but rather to discover, and strengthen my abilities. My blindness has taught me to change my goal setting to be limitless, by keeping creativity and open-mindedness on my virtual tool belt. Most importantly, blindness has motivated me to share my life experiences, and strive to release society from the blindfolds that perpetuate stereotypes, thus allowing society to see with the clarity of creative, open-minded people who are blind.

Tiffany Baylor, TVI, FCCM, MEd
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, TVI
Florida Certified Contract Manager, FCCM
Masters of Education, MEd

Connecting WIth Tiffany:

Image Descriptions:

  • Beyond Sight Magazine Cover – Tiffany’s photo is on the cover, she is dressed professionally in a stylish jacket and her dark hair is pulled back from her smiling face cascading in spiral curls. Her circular silver statement earrings perfectly omplement her jacket. 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 3 lines of white text that says “Tiffany Baylor Opening doors with open-mindedness and creativity.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby rollerblading. She has on a black crop tank top complete with her logo on the front with black shorts, and gray & teal roller blades. And of course, Abby wouldn’t be Abby without her signature explosive hairstyle and “Women On The Move” is in yellow text under the circle.
  • Hiking Desoto Falls – Tiffany is standing with her guide dog a black lab. In the background is a waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Tri-panel gallery -1) Tiffany is standing at a podium cohosting a Dining In The Dark Event with a man. 2) Tiffany is sitting with a child on the floor teaching them braille. 3) Tiffany is at the front of the room leading a public speaking conference as a woman looks on.
  • USABA Photo – Action photo of Tiffany running rounding the bend on the track, representing Team USA as she competes.
  • Team USA – Tiffany is among the entire team consisting of 4 rows of people. All are dressed identically in navy and white athletic gear.
  • 7-panel gallery – (clockwise top l to r) 1) Tiffany and her clogging team wearing American flag tops. 2) Tiffany and her guide dog are on the Appalachian trail crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah on a narrow footbridge. 3) Tiffany is all smiles while riding a Cyco Cycle in the parade. She has on a black cowboy hat, red top, boots, and black jeans. Her bedazzled cane is guiding the way. 4) Action shot of Tiffany water skiing in Hot Springs Arkansas. 5) Top of Hill at Harper’s Ferry Tiffany, with her guide dog, is standing with her back to the camera. In the background rooftops and a tree-covered mountain can be seen. 6) Ice Skiing in Vermont Tiffany poses with her skis in hand. She’s wearing a red puffy jacket, black helmet, and bright orange “Blind Skier” vest. 7) Tiffany and her guide dog are at the Appalachian Trail Railroad. Tiffany has a large backpack on her back. Trees and mountains can be seen in the background.
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Visual Identity & Seeing Beyond Vision Loss

Image is described in the body of the post.

WOMEN ON THE MOVE

Editor’s Note:

The one thing I am most passionate about as an Abilities Crusader is seeing people for who they are. Understanding visible or invisible disabilities doesn’t have to be uncomfortable when we accept people in their entirety. Today, you’re going to meet an amazing woman who will help you see differently.

My friendship with Cheryl Minnette, like many of the people featured on Bold Blind Beauty, began virtually. From our very first video conversation, we instantly connected and shared many things in common. Then a few months ago we met for the first time in person at a networking event in New Jersey. If I had one word to describe this beautiful woman it would have to be ‘charisma.’ Cheryl’s warmth and authenticity give her the unique ability to draw people to her and make them feel safe. It gives me pleasure to introduce you to my friend Cheryl. ~Steph

As I walked through the building, without any warning, my retina detached. A new chapter in life was beginning, which definitely caused me to see the world from a different vantage point.

~Cheryl Minnette

On Being Seen

Delaware Book tour image is described in the body of the post.
Delaware Book tour

If you knew me as a child, you would remember me as the little girl with the three long pigtails and blue cat-framed eyeglasses. Did I get teased throughout my childhood? Oh, absolutely! Did it stop me from having an inquisitive mind and learning how things worked? Absolutely not! I would take things apart and put them back together like a puzzle. To this day I love a good brain teaser.

Although I am now legally blind, I definitely don’t let it define me. It is a condition that is part of me, but I am in control of this here vessel. I enter a room as Cheryl, bringing all of my confidence and grace with me. This means you get to see and know me for my joy of life that radiates from within before my layers of visual identity are revealed. Now was I this way from day one of my vision loss? Not at all! It was definitely a process. Let me rewind my timeline a bit, so you can get up to speed.

Instantaneous Sight Loss

Secaucus, NJ Trip image is described in the body of the post.
Secaucus, NJ Trip

My vision loss occurred on an ordinary Spring morning. You know when the sun is shining, skies are blue, and the birds are chirping away. Everyone was ready to go, so I walked the dog, got the children off to school, and headed to work. Within 15 minutes of arriving at work, my world was changed forever. As I walked through the building, without any warning, my retina detached. A new chapter in life was beginning, which definitely caused me to see the world from a different vantage point.

Having been sighted, I quickly realized the world I had been living in was not designed for the visually impaired. Stepping into this new arena, a world that current memories don’t work in, I found that my mind’s memory banks were requiring a major upgrade of daily processes. Some of the most intricate, but simple, daily processes that I used to perform without much thought, now require my full attention. I am very detail-oriented and analytical, which helped me begin this journey of retraining myself. Putting into place the processes I needed to implement in order to have the ability to maintain an independent life required discipline.

Rebuilding Life

During this restructuring and growth process, I yearned for more in my life. I am not the type to sit back and watch life pass me by. I thought about my dreams and was not willing to let them go. I knew there was more for me beyond this new horizon, and I was determined to find it. I found the online space to be intriguing and began learning about it. This led to live streaming, product creation, business scaling, speaking, traveling, becoming an author, and more. Each hurdle was like a new puzzle, waiting to be solved.

There are many layers to having your own business, and I am continually peeling them back. I believe life is a never-ending process of continual learning. When it comes to product creation and implementation, it’s all about knowing what steps to take. Were there days filled with tears, frustration, and feelings of overwhelm? There most certainly were, but knowing the reward outweighed the struggles. Desiring to meet some of my business acquaintances, I went for it and boarded a plane heading for a conference in Florida. That solo trip was a pivotal moment in my vision loss journey.

Being A Role Model

My children walked every step of my vision loss journey with me. As a mother, it was extremely important for me to demonstrate to my children that when life knocks you off your feet, you can choose to stand tall again. I stand behind the words that I speak to others when it comes to stepping outside of the proverbial box and pushing yourself outside of your boundaries. In January 2019, I challenged myself to push way past my boundaries and have some fun while doing it. As part of a reunion celebration, I reconnected with my childhood championship drill team. With continual practice and perseverance, in addition to the member’s support, I displayed my skills with The Soul Sensations in June during a parade and at two other events. My children were not only amazed seeing my moves but were proud of me for this accomplishment.

Drill Team image is described in the body of the post.
Drill Team

Today I inspire women to maneuver through their circumstances, not sit in them. At Vision Navigation Consulting, it’s all about knowing what you want and learning how to maneuver to get there. Whether you are new to vision loss, caring for someone with vision loss, or are sighted in need of sensitivity and awareness training, reach out at eyelivelifetoo@gmail.com. You may also request your copy of the monthly Vision Navigation NEWSletter. Vision Navigation Consulting is “changing the way you see the world“, by sharing insight and knowledge so you can connect your dots from where you are to where you need to be.

A Free Gift From Cheryl

Cheryl is offering Bold Blind Beauty readers a free inspirational book “A Woman’s Self Inspiration.”

If you’re ready to move forward on your journey of personal discovery, in order to become your more, then this free gift will jump-start your process. Click the link below to get answers that will assist you in your growth.

A Woman’s Self Inspiration by Cheryl Minnette https://bit.ly/selfinspiration

Connecting With Cheryl:

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: The Beyond Sight Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition numbers are in the upper right corner in black ink. Cheryl’s headshot photo is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. In this photo, Cheryl is smiling and has on a mint green top accented with a gold chunky necklace and earrings. The picture was taken during her initial solo trip to the Florida Conference. “Beyond Sight” is in large black text and a teal-colored circle with Cheryl’s name is in white text.
  • Delaware Book Tour: Speaking…a journey Into the world of vision loss. In this photo, Cheryl is standing next to a lectern wearing a sleeveless pink dress.
  • Secaucus Trip: Photo of Cheryl in the hotel lobby where we met in NJ. She’s wearing a hot pink jacket with black pants.
  • Photo Gallery:
    • Cooking Blind Kitchen: Preparing a meal during a live show. Cheryl is standing next to a kitchen counter decked out in an apron and her hair pulled atop her head with a pink headband.
    • Philly Train Station: Waiting on a wooden bench at the Philadelphia train station, to head home to New Jersey after a day full of networking.
  • Drill Team: Grand finale in the African American Heritage Parade. Action shot of Cheryl in uniform (white hat, pants, fingerless gloves, and shoes with a green top) at the parade.