These are a selection of stories written by staff members at the Lighthouse of Collier. Our team members develop unique and special relationships with each client, which is reflected in this retelling of each clients’ successes.
Whether, working as a TVI in the schools or as a CVRT in an agency (such as the Lighthouse), vision specialists have the unique privilege of following their students’/clients’ growth and successes over a long period of time, sometimes throughout their entire educational career! This is a story about one such young man (“Wyatt”) who has been a Lighthouse client (off and on) since he was in 6th grade.
Self-determination is the ability of a child to advocate for their own needs and desires and make independent choices about their personal preferences and goals in life. It is one of nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum that we emphasize with Lighthouse students. Tyler is a 10-year-old boy whose strength is self-determination. His vision is affected by retinopathy of prematurity and absence of a lens in both eyes, but he does not let his condition deter him. He takes an active role in all of his sessions at the Lighthouse, always contributing ideas, opinions and suggestions for activities. Although the instructor prepares a lesson plan, it always transforms into much more based on Tyler’s input. He has an incredibly inquisitive mind and is the go-to guy to assemble games and figure out how things work. With an innate mind for detail and our strongest advocate regarding our move to a new office space, Tyler was intrigued by a tour of the new Center and offices for Lighthouse of Collier and can’t wait to view the renovations. In the meantime he has scoured the blueprints in great detail and indicated his goal of becoming an architect or designer.
Many tools and accommodations have been made available to assist Tyler with his vision, including magnification, talking books, classroom recommendations, touch typing and lighting. Whether playing Monopoly, cooking or viewing blueprints, Tyler makes choices about what tools work best for him. His persistence, problem solving ability, and self-advocacy will serve him well in life. Working with Tyler is a joy and allows one to see things through his unique, inquisitive perspective; he is every bit a teacher as he is a student.
Mary lost her vision about ten years ago from a car accident and complications of diabetes. During the last ten years, Mary had to move home to her mother’s and learn life from scratch. Due to many various reasons, Mary struggled the first few years and had a few setbacks.
Since I met Mary about three and a half years ago, she has completely changed. She is a strong independent woman who decided enough was enough and took charge of her life. She put a renewed sense of self into learning all she can learn not only from the Lighthouse of Collier, but from the Florida Division of Blind Services and other sources. She no longer lets her vision loss define her.
Mary has taken charge of her life and in doing so, Mary now is back in the workforce and just recently moved out of her mother’s place into her own apartment with a roommate.
I started working with William from the very first day I began as an instructor for the Lighthouse of Collier. William has been totally blind now for a few years. He participates in many different group classes provided from the Lighthouse such as: iOS class where we provide instruction on using iPhones, weekly support groups, history club and book club as well as spending time with me once per week going over his iPhone.
Dan is a 78-year old client of the Lighthouse of Collier. He sought out the services of the Lighthouse because he was having trouble reading. He has hereditary cataracts in addition to glaucoma.
His vision impairment was affecting his activities of daily living. But, what upset him the most was how difficult it had become for him to read print. He is an elder in his church. His greatest passion is teaching the Bible and providing sound guidance regarding its interpretation. In order to accomplish his ministry, he spends many hours studying history and theology. He had a CCTV, and magnifiers that were supplied to him by the instructor. However, these low vision devices were not helping him to continue his studies to the extent that he needed. His eyes would become too tired.
I called Rosa today to offer a home visit – training had been on hold due to her other health and family commitments. Rosa appreciated the offer as she was having a particularly hard day coping with her vision loss and managing her daily tasks. Rosa expressed feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. She needed to talk. After listening and empathizing with her situation, I suggested that she resume her attendance with the weekly support group- to share her frustrations with her peers. However, Rosa had already been attending on a weekly basis and excitedly rattled off accolades about several members who helped her in their own special way (their names have been changed to protect the group’s privacy).
Lighthouse of Collier started a music braille program and invited James to participate. James recently experienced the aha! moment of reading basic braille notes and playing them on a piano. He begins band camp next week and has already obtained copies of his print music to begin the process of translation to braille.
Linda is an older blind client in her seventies living with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Linda lives alone in a condo in a 55 and older community. She stated that she never realized how often she got help from others until it was no longer available.
The Lighthouse of Collier received a grant about 6 months ago to purchase iPads for the children to use. This is a story about how the use of an iPad has impacted one of our children.
Jake is a six year old boy living with severe Cortical Visual Impairment. Due to CVI, he displays trouble visually attending to objects for very long, tracking, and understanding visual information presented to him.
In the short time I have been working for Lighthouse Of Collier, I have had the honor of working with quite a few wonderful people.
I have been working with Mark for a little over a month on having him get to know his iPhone by using only voiceover and not struggling to use his vision. We have been going over opening and closing apps, navigating those apps, utilizing Siri in making phone calls and sending text messages and recently, we have started downloading and using Apps such as Be My Eyes and Seeing AI. Mark is very quick at learning each item I send his way and even enjoys the little homework projects I give him! He is very excited that he can communicate with family and friends again without having to ask for help in doing all of these things. Great job Mark!
Purchase Seeing Beyond Blindness
If you would like to own one of these cocktail table books, please donate a suggested selling price of $35.00 to Lighthouse of Collier and we will send you one straight away.
Lighthouse of Collier dedicated the book to Art Bookbinder, a man who could see beyond blindness. He was a great friend and leader. May he rest in peace. August 1942 – April 2020.