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America’s Top Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year

America's Top Guide Dog featured image description is in the body of the post.

America’s Top Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year

Thanks to you and others around the country, Frances is a finalist to become American Hero Dog of the Year.

Recently, I shared a post about Guide Dog Frances being a semi-finalist in the National Hero Dog Award ContestI was thrilled to publish an article to raise awareness of the importance of Frances’ role in her handler’s life. And now, thanks in part to you, Frances is a finalist who could become the 2018 American Hero Dog of the Year.

Congratulations to Holly Bonner (Blind Motherhood) and her guide dog, Frances, of Staten Island, New York. Frances won the distinction of being the nation’s Top Guide/Hearing Dog of the year. The pair is one of seven remarkable canines who are finalists in the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®.

The awards gala, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and Zoetis Petcare, will broadcast as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall. Holly and Frances are being recognized for their advocacy work on behalf of blind parents across the nation. This dynamic duo now needs our help! Vote for them 1 time per day until September 5th, 2018.  Click the link below to cast your voteAll you need to do is enter your email address and zip code.  

http://herodogawards.org/dog/frances/

America’s Top Guide/Hearing Dog Featured Image:

Franny is sitting looking directly at the camera with her deep soulful eyes. She has the sweetest face and her eyes seem all-knowing. A pink decorative necklace with colorful pompoms is around her neck.

To win the NATIONAL TITLE OF HERO DOG For The US – we need to vote for Frances once a day from now until September 5th.  

Click here – http://herodogawards.org/dog/frances/

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A Dedication To Advocates A.K.A. Champions

Champion Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

A Dedication To Advocates A.K.A. Champions

Courage
Honor
Attitude
Motivation
Persevere
Integrity
Optimistic
Never giving up

One of the definitions for the word champion is “a person who fights for or defends any person or cause.” I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to work with so many champions (women & men, sighted & nonsighted of all abilities) featured here on Bold Blind Beauty.

“Belle et rebelle” (beautiful and rebellious)

I recently came upon the lovely term “Belle et rebelle” from a blog post. My friends at Green Global Trek recently used the phrase in Postcards from France ~ La Rochelle. When I saw the phrase I immediately thought of this community because we are shaking things up. The following song with the lyrics (below the video) is dedicated to you. Together we are breaking down barriers!

Here’s to all the Belle et rebelle:

Helen KellerAngela WinfieldSusan & Sherri RodgersEmpish ThomasAmy Hildebrand, Libby ThawKaren RowieJule Ann LiebermanEmily DavisonSuzanne GibsonFatmatta WurieStephanie Stephens VanSue Wiygul MartinJennifer RothschildLeigh Anne FocaretaKerry KijewskiJill KhouryChelsea StarkPaul MugambiMaribel SteelMary (Mel) ScottAmy BovairdCharlotte PoetschnerAudrey DemmittDonna HillSusan KennedyHolly BonnerKimberly WhiteTosha MichelleAshley NemethJenelle LandgrafJoy ThomasArie Farnam, BlindBeaderNicole Schultz-KassMara LaurenBecky AndrewsCarla Ernst, NicoleChristie SmithSilvia SeyringerJo Elizabeth PintoMaria JohnsonTaylor PapadopoulosVirginia MazeMegan DarcyRose-Ann LyonsLynne NicholsonCasandra XavierChristina HoltzclawEileen RobinsonDiane KrekMelody GoodspeedAngie RobertsLiz OleksaJill StephensShaini SaravanamuthuBeatriz García MartínNysha CharleneChrissy AntonopoulosBrittany WinnerEmily MetautenIvana TorbicaLizzie CapenerJayd Alex, Mja StæinarrJade RamosVictoria ClaireJennifer DutrowJ RenéeHawkeyeFaith & SavannahSuzanne ClarkeMarieke DavisNasreen BhuttaKathy Keck, Kirsty MajorLisa SalingerCaitlin HernandezAshley MorganLeslie ThompsonTori ClarkMichael RobertsonSherry IngramPortia MasonPenny ParkerPeggy FleisherMatt De GruchyJessica JannengaGlenda HarrisonJennifer Barrille, Laura Sottile, Jessica Marano, and let’s not forget you, our followers and supporters without whom none of this could be possible.

The Champion (Carrie Underwood)

I’ll be the last one standing
Two hands in the air, I’m a champion
You’ll be looking up at me when it’s over
I live for the battle, I’m a soldier, yeah

I’m a fighter like Rocky
Put you flat on your back like Ali
Yeah, I’m the greatest, I’m stronger
Paid my dues, can’t lose, Imma own ya, ay

I’ve been working my whole life
And now it’s do or die

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion

When they write my story
They’re gonna say that I did it for the glory
But don’t think that I did it for the fame, yeah
I did it for the love of the game, yeah
And this is my chance I’m taking
All them old records I’m breaking
All you people watching on the TV
You go ahead and put your bets on me, ay

I’ve been waiting my whole life
To see my name in lights

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion, oh

Born champion, Luda
The C is for the courage I possess through the drama
H is for the hurt but it’s all for the honor
A is for my attitude working through the patience
Money comes and goes so the M is for motivation
Gotta stay consistent, the P is to persevere
The I is for integrity, innovative career
The O is optimistic, open and never shut
And the N is necessary ’cause I’m never giving up
See they ask me how I did it, I just did it from the heart
Crushing the competition, been doing it from the start
They say that every champion is all about his principles
Carrie

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion

I’m the champion, yeah
Surpassed all rivals
It’s all about who wants it the most (I am the champion)

Fight for what we believe in
That’s what champions are made of

I am the champion

Songwriters: Brett James / Chris De Stefano / Christopher Brian Bridges / Carrie Underwood
The Champion lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Champion Featured Image Description:

Two blue boxing gloves standing upright on a white background.

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Creating Change Through Creativity & Collaboration

Creating Change Blind Chicks With Attitude mug description is in the body of the post.

Creating Change Through Creativity & Collaboration

Recently, someone asked me why I created Bold Blind Beauty; my answer was twofold—devastation and rebirth.

A Life In Ruins

Blind Chicks With Attitude mug image description is in the body of the post.It was June 2009 and earlier in the year, I had my third and last vitrectomy to hopefully restore the sight in my good eye. I was excited because the successful outcome of this surgery could allow me to regain my driving privileges. Unfortunately, during the recovery phase, my retina specialist found bleeding at the back of the eye. The treatment plan called for Avastin an injection in the eye to stop the bleeding.

A couple of weeks later, my brother, son, and I went to Cleveland Clinic. The drive to Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute was about two hours but with renewed hope, worth the trip. Afterall, during my last visit two years earlier, they saved the sight in my bad eye by repairing my detached retina. The news I received during this trip wasn’t good.

When the doctors told me “we’re sorry there is no more we can do for you” I think I was in a semi-catatonic state. There was no reaction, no tears, no outburst—nothing. On the drive home, my mind could not grasp what I what the doctor’s told me.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I was as scared as I’ve ever been. I mean, I had big plans before all of this eye stuff happened. I received a promotion at work, bought a house, got married. My husband and I were refurbishing our home to sell it then build our own. Now I’m legally blind, do I even have a future?

Uncharted Territory

My problem-solving skills improved significantly during and after my new ‘legally blind status.’ There wasn’t a roadmap to follow for life after sight loss and I never felt more lonely. I had to make some tough decisions on how I was going to move forward the most significant was self-reliance. This meant a change in course by leaving my marriage, home, and beginning anew.

Even with so much support from my employer, co-workers and those closest to me, the strain of trying to find my groove got to me. Looking like I could see, yet couldn’t, was exhausting. While I may have looked like I was adapting I was struggling. Every time I used my white cane I felt like a beacon.

For a minute it seemed like my life was in ashes with the chaos that ensued. However, eventually, with the help of family and friends, I would connect with a low vision specialist and others who became my lifeline.

Newfound Strength With My Tribe

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? I sure have, most of my life actually. So it shouldn’t have been odd for me to be among the ‘too sighted to be blind but too blind to be sighted camp.’ Yet, my local blind community embraced me—I was home.

When I was asked to do a makeup presentation at our Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) annual convention I found my purpose. Beauty is not reserved for ONLY those who can SEE, beauty, REAL beauty knows no limits. Bold Blind Beauty—Real Beauty Transcends Barriers seeks to empower blind women while connecting sighted and non-sighted communities.

Collaborating with creatives like Jennifer Barrille, Laura Sottile, Jessica Marano, Kathy Keck and others is presenting a unique opportunity for Bold Blind Beauty. Our fashion icon Abby is stylish, she uses a white cane, and she’s changing the way we look at blindness. Working to make Abby and all of our offerings accessible is our goal.

Yesterday, I was able to upload our new one-of-a-kind embossed braille coffee mugs to our online store. The braille on each of these mugs is created by artist Kathy Keck of Loving Touch Connection

Currently, the design on the new mugs includes tactile slogans in braille on one side and Abby with text slogans on the other side of the handle. Literally, you can “Have Abigale at your fingertips to enjoy your favorite hot beverage; coffee, tea, or whatever it may be!”

Creating Change… Featured Image Description:

To the left of the mug’s handle is the phrase “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE” in braille. The mug’s design includes fashion icon, Abby (in trio format) who are to the right of the handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.”

Abby is walking with her white cane in one hand and handbag in the other. The image is black with black heels and a stylish black dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped in waist to just above the knee. Her signature hairstyle is explosive.

 

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Customer Service Is For Everyone

Customer Service featured image description is in the body of the post.

Customer Service Is For Everyone

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” ~Henry Winkler 

Instant Gratification Can Come At A Great Cost

Eight connected gears are in the background of the word "Service" in red letters.

If you visited Bold Blind Beauty over the past two days you probably found the site was down. So what happened and how was the issue resolved?

Since accessibility is of the utmost importance, I am working with someone to make BBB fully accessible. The process involved moving the site to a self-hosting platform. In preparation, my accessibility guy spoke with the host company as did I with a list of extensive questions. Everything was copacetic until it wasn’t.

The process began by live chat around 5:00 or so Wednesday evening. After speaking with a wonderful sales representative from the hosting platform, I felt confident about my decision. Once signed up with the new service the sales rep turned me over to a technical professional.

Typically, I don’t explain my sight impairment but in this situation, I wanted the hosting company to understand my needs. After fours years of hard work, I wasn’t in the mood to lose all of Bold Blind Beauty’s content. Each person I spoke to assured me everything was going to be “smooth and easy.” This should have been a red flag.

By Thursday, while I appeared cool and calm on social media, in reality, I was losing my mind. I was “live chatting” with the hosting company throughout the day while taking screenshots of our conversations. Since I couldn’t access my content all sorts of nightmare scenarios were floating through my head. Even though I had a backup of the site my nerves were on edge because of the downtime.

On Friday morning I awoke with new determination; I was going to go back to WordPress. The first thing I did was contact the hosting company and requested transcripts of all my chats. Then I contacted WordPress, explained what happened and was able to put a temporary solution in place. Once I had the transcripts, I canceled the transfer of the domain to the hosting company and requested a refund.

Customer Service In A Fast Paced Digital World 

We are living in a world full of 1-800 numbers, big box stores, and at least a bazillion online service organizations. Gone are the days of rabbit ears, phone booths, taxicabs, and ice boxes. In exchange for instant gratification, customer service can go by the wayside.

Today, if we make a call we may find ourselves in the ninth circle of voicemail hell. Don’t even get me started on interacting with internet service providers, cable, cell phone, and utility companies. Then we have scripted, off-shore call centers where cultural challenges can be barriers to a satisfactory experience.

Life is challenging for everyone. For people with disabilities (PWDs) working hard to find ways to adapt can be especially frustrating. While we still have a long way to go, we have made some strides:

  • Social changes in society have led to greater enlightenment. Remember the days when PWDs were institutionalized for their entire lives?
  • Legal protections are in place for protected groups. Acts of discrimination are against the law.
  • Rapid change in technology has allowed PWDs to connect with the world around us like never before.
  • PWDs work very hard to assimilate because this is the world in which we live.

Breaking down barriers is hard, never-ending, and necessary work. So when we deal with customer service representatives who can’t respond to our needs it compounds our challenges. Makes one wonder where the care is in customer care.

Even with the barriers and other challenges presented to us, there is an opportunity for positive change. Here at Bold Blind Beauty, we are empowering blind women to transcend barriers and live productive and fulfilling lives.

My SITE may have gone down but my SIGHT is focused on moving forward.