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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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A Valentine’s Day Greeting

Valentine's Day quote is in the body of the post. The image is black text on a white background. The words "Love" and "Hope" are emphasized in oversized cursive text.

 “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of Hope.” ~Maya Angelou

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate quote for Valentine’s Day than this one by Maya Angelou.

Bold Blind Beauty is all about transcending barriers by changing the way we perceive one another. On this Valentine’s Day when we interact with others let’s err on the side of kindness and love.

Happy Valentine’s Day From Bold Blind Beauty!

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Like Threads In A Tapestry We Weave Our Story

Talk about misunderstanding. This featured image is a selfie of me weaing a black knit headband and furry sweater. I'm also wearing bright red lipstick and to many people I don't look blind.

That which we do not understand may seem to us to be incongruous. Could there be more to the story?

Understanding, is it me or does it seem to be in short supply today? Then we have assumptions, we all make them.

Unfortunately, based on our assumptions, we often come to conclusions without understanding the full story. In the realm of disabilities, assumptions can be particularly venomous.

When we don’t meet certain ‘expectations’ weird things can happen and we may find ourselves on the receiving end of a tongue lashing. For example, a wheelchair may signal to us the user is unable to stand or walk when this may not be the case at all.

There is no “all or nothing” approach to disabilities. Yet we mistreat people with disabilities because we fail to understand their individual situation.

In today’s climate, it is so easy to have our say with a couple of keystrokes. I sometimes think we forget the targets of our comments are human.

Social media furthers misunderstandings partly due to the following reasons:

  1. We don’t read an entire message
  2. We take it out of context
  3. We believe something simply because it’s published

Bold Blind Beauty believes for us to transcend barriers we need to change the way we perceive one another. The only way to achieve this goal is by sharing our stories, and being out here living our lives to shift the narratives.

Change begins with us. If we can acknowledge we don’t understand all things or all people perhaps we can open the door to learning.

Why don’t we begin with what we share in common, our humanness? We all have flaws and are not perfect. We have biases, thoughts, feelings, opinions, and pride.

Like individual threads in a tapestry, each of us is different. By ourselves, we can be colorful. However, when woven together we can create a beautiful picture telling a different story.

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2017 We’re In The Homestretch!

White text "Its Bout To Get Nostalgic Up In Here" in on a black spiral bound journal with a pencil laying next to it.

A Look Back On 2017 | The Good, The Bad, The Meh

Steph is standing with her white cane in hand in front of Bold Blind Beauty's exhibition booth at White Cane Safety Day in Market Square, Pittsburgh on October 13, 2017
White Cane Safety Day in Market Square, Pittsburgh

The 2017 year-end review, just the thought of it makes my heart race. It’s during this time I get to see how far Bold Blind Beauty has come since the start of the year.

2017 got off to a remarkable start with two focus groups. What was so exciting to me about these sessions was the ability to gain valuable insight into my target market. Receiving confirmation we are on the right track was so gratifying it spurred even more creativity.

What Were Some Of The Biggies?

People

  • I created a Steering Committee to bring together multi-talented community leaders to set our direction.
  • I worked with a designer to create more images of Abby and images for store merchandise.
  • I’m working with a web designer to update several elements on the site.
Gift basket contains Bold Blind Beauty tote bag, tee shirt, coffee mug, ball cap, Abby cookies and large print informational packet.
Gift basket for 2017 PCB Conference Raffle

Website

  • Upgrading from WordPress Premium to the Business Plan gives more flexibility in managing the site.
  • The Business Plan has a built-in e-commerce solution, so we no longer needed a separate online store.
  • Blind Beauty, the weekly mock fashion magazine highlights phenomenal blind & visually impaired women.
  • Abby’s Corner, presents fashion tips, techniques, Q&A, and reviews.
  • Cane Enabled, speaks to white cane safety, usage, and personalization.
Image: In the foreground is a closeup of two teal Bold Blind Beauty braille bracelets sitting next to a red serving tray with an open eyeglass case on top of a table. In the background is beautiful lit Christmas tree.
One of my friends sent me this photo of her Bold Blind Beauty bracelets.

Events

  • Designed Bold Blind Beauty teal and white wristbands.
  • Bold Blind Beauty was at Pittsburgh and Milwaukee’s White Cane Safety Day Awareness Events.
  • Developed the White Cane Rules of the Road, a card (printed in large type for low-vision persons—and in braille for blind persons) as part of an information packet about boldblindbeauty.com
  • Bold Blind Beauty was at the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) Annual Conference and we donated a gift basket full of BBB swag and cookies.
Oval shaped cookies with a tall, slim, woman, wearing a dress and holding a cane in front of her as she walks forward, toward adventure and exploration, her hair styled and sassy. Half of the cookies have a teal background with a white Abigale logo and the other half have a white background with a teal Abigale logo. Most of the cookies have three Braille letter "B"s on the cookie to the right or left of the Abigale logo.
Abigale Cookies

The biggest accomplishment to date aside from the completion of the Business Plan was these fabulous Abby cookies made by my friend and Woman on the Move, Nicole Schultz-Kass. I’d love to say I shared these cookies with others but I’d be lying. Except for the three included in the gift basket, I wolfed down the remaining nine cookies.

The Abby icon is depicted shopping by holding up a teal dress on a hanger in her right hand. She is wearing a stylish black off the shoulder dress, black heels with ankle straps and a white hat with a a black band with a loose end waving. In her left hand is her white cane.
Abigale (Abby)

While we didn’t hit all of our targets for the year we made huge inroads and put things in place to make next years’ goals. As long as we keep moving forward we’re headed in the right direction.

Abby is sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

Thanks go out to all of you for sticking with me. It’s my hope that next year I will be able to spend more time on WordPress visiting you and making new connections.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!! ~Steph