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.
Julie is a daughter of a Senior who is visually impaired and lives in Rhode Island. Julie lives in Naples and was researching ways to make her father’s phone usage more accessible. She had explained that her father has been having trouble with seeing the numbers on his phone and always misses phone calls because he can’t seem to see where to press/ tap.
Julie mentioned that her father lives in Assisted living and that are unfortunately still in a lockdown. I had asked her if her father was perhaps considering moving to Naples.
Aaron is a four year old boy living in Immokalee who has a progressive eye condition that has resulted in congenital cataracts in both eyes. Upon our first meeting, it was clear that he would be a Braille reader in the future so we spent much time over the past year working on Pre-Braille skills, including tactual discrimination. He made a lot of progress over that time.
Now he is beginning to work on the Braille alphabet which has proven to be a challenge. We have had a hard time finding ways to make the Braille alphabet fun and engaging for Aaron so he wants to focus and work on it.
Meet Joey and Anna
Music has powerful effects on human beings, including lifting moods, reducing anxiety, improving memory and connecting with others. Children who are blind or visually impaired currently face barriers in accessing music as they participate in music activities such as choir or band. Joey, a middle school student who is learning piano, saxophone and clarinet, accesses print music primarily by listening to others play and memorizing what he has heard. Anna, a college bound senior heading to Nashville, needs skills to access the curriculum as a music major. New tools and strategies are needed to teach these students how to access music independently as well as those students who may not have explored music due to inaccessibility.
Thomas is a man in his mid-fifties residing in New Jersey who worked for thirty years at an airport in the New York City area until March of last year. That is when the unthinkable happened. Thomas contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized for two months. Thomas was able to recover from his illness and finally go home with only one apparent side effect. The virus caused him to go completely blind.
Thomas is now trying to learn how to live his life as a person who is blind. He is ready to begin the journey of learning the tools, tips and techniques needed to regain the independence he enjoyed before losing his vision. Thomas is very eager to begin that journey. However, due to state wide shutdowns he is finding it extremely difficult to get the help he needs.
Jeremy is an 18-year-old student with cortical vision impairment and cerebral palsy. Communication is a challenge for Jeremy, as he is nonverbal and has difficulty controlling his movements. As a result, it is important to communicate with Jeremy’s family to formulate goals that are meaningful to him. One particular goal was to increase social interaction with family, friends and teachers using a voice generating switch.
Lighthouse of Collier, Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) and Jeremy’s parents all contributed to purchasing a switch, heavy-duty mounting arm and mounting plate. Jeremy’s father and brother pitched in to record approximately ten messages, ranging from hilarious movie quotes to favorite foods and music preferences.
Marion is a cultured and intelligent retired art-dealer (“Colorist”) and self-described “foodie” who is functionally blind from a history of issues with her vitreous fluid. She has little remaining vision, which occasionally enables her to see high contrast icons on her phone. However, Marion is unable to read print and requires the white cane for mobility outside of the home.
Marion has been a client off/on for the past few years and has participated in the art/clay classes and ILS workshops. She also received assistance with using the CAT Bus and self-advocacy training to request shopping assistance at Publix (to purchase hard-to-find cooking ingredients for her artistic cuisine).
David is a man in his fifties who lost all of his vision due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). David has been regularly attending individual assistive technology lessons here at the Lighthouse for the past fifteen months. He is also a regular member of the Spanish speaking adjustment to blindness support group. Through the years I have had the opportunity to work with people extremely driven to overcome their challenges and succeed in reaching their goals through sheer determination and hard work. David is without doubt one of those people. Not only is David completely blind, he has newly arrived to the United States from Venezuela and speaks little to no English. His largest barrier at this time is not his visual impairment, but his inability to communicate without an interpreter.
Rhonda is a 67-year old client of the Lighthouse of Collier. She wanted a refresher course in Orientation and Mobility in order to qualify for her third guide dog.
The instructor went out to the client’s house to provide the requested review of Orientation and Mobility skills she needed to qualify for her guide dog. Additionally, the instructor provided demonstrations in using 20/20 pens, bold line paper, a handheld CCTV, bump dots, task lighting a liquid level indicator.
Wanda is an 81-year-old client that 1st came to Lighthouse of Collier at the end of September, 2020. She has Age-Related Macular Degeneration as well an autoimmune disorder which affects her bones, muscles, skin, and joints severely limiting her physical mobility. She came to the Lighthouse primarily looking for help using her iPad. The iPad served as her primary piece of assistive technology as she had given up using her laptop computer. It was her communication lifeline to her family and friends who lived far away but she could no longer read the print on the screen.
As a result of the legislative grant, Lighthouse of Collier is able to provide a robust home services program. Through that program, services are provided to Nathan. He is an elderly veteran man living alone and has no family to take care of him in the area. Nathan cannot drive and did not have access to resources that would provide him rides when he initially became a client.
Nathan has learned tools, tips, techniques, and trainings to make his everyday life easier. One of the most useful tools he has learned is how to use Collier Area Paratransit System to take him around town and to important appointments. Nathan has become more independent because of his ability to obtain transportation. More information on this service can be found at: https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/divisions-f-r/public-transit-neighborhood-enhancement/our-services/collier-area-paratransit-system-7568
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.