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.
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.
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.
Maggie has been a Lighthouse client for almost three years. She suffers from glaucoma and damaged corneas, causing a great deal of pain and extreme light sensitivity. She administers eye drops multiple times a day and attends frequent eye appointments. Compounding these challenges, Maggie was recently let go from her job due to COVID-19.
Despite her circumstances, Maggie always sees the glass half full and never seems defeated. She shows up with a smile and a “can do” attitude. Maggie frequently networks with other Lighthouse clients to help them cope with their vision loss. She leads by example by lending a hand to those in need.
David is an 11-year-old middle school student living with Stargardt disease, a retinal degenerative condition that causes central vision loss. Without central vision, David is unable to read print or even track the mouse on the screen. Due to COVID-19, David’s family decided to enroll him in virtual instruction through Collier County Public Schools. For a sighted student, this option can be challenging. For a visually impaired student, it can be overwhelming.
David is truly a joy to work with. Through hard work, determination, and most importantly the support of a very loving family, David will overcome any obstacle and become anything he chooses.
Sam is a retired physician in his 70s. He was originally enrolled under the Division of Blind Services Older Blind program, and was encouraged to participate in various classes and events. After 9 months of inactivity, despite regular invitations, the Division of Blind Services advised his case be closed.
However, during the pandemic, Lighthouse case managers could recommend new clients for support under the legislative grant. Sam was proposed as a candidate, as he had requested technology training but was unwilling to make the physical trip to the office. The Lighthouse instructor contacted Sam and he was indeed interested. Sam’s vision had decreased and he struggled with accessing his iPad and iPhone. Sam was pleased to be able to receive services from his home.
Kathy is a young, working-age woman who went completely blind about eight years ago. She has been receiving services from the Lighthouse on and off for the past five years. The first four of those years, Kathy made minimal progress while she struggled with medical issues. However, over the past year her health has improved, making it possible for her to attend classes on a regular basis.
In that time, Kathy learned how to navigate a computer using only JAWS screen reading software and Windows keyboard commands. She is quick to grasp and retain new concepts with little assistance. In fact, she often troubleshoots a problem on her own. Kathy’s newly learned computer skills make it easy for her to attend remote classes the Lighthouse offers. She regularly attends the Tuesday coffee chat, independent living workshops, Wednesday support group, and history/book club, and meets for individual technology lessons.
As a new client with the Lighthouse in 2013, single, totally blind, and having just moved from Chicago to Naples, Susan required extensive orientation and mobility support. After several months of instruction, Susan learned to navigate her apartment community and nearby shopping areas. She also gained an understanding of the city layout after being provided with her own tactile/braille map of Naples.
Susan became a familiar face at the Lighthouse. She attended braille classes, pursued technology training for JAWS screen reading and voiceover, and received one-on-one lessons to learn skills such as using her Instant Pot, creating calendar appointments through her Google Home Mini, and help with tips to sort and identify her medications. Over time, Susan’s technology skills were so advanced that she was one of only a few clients who had mastered the ability to play podcasts and free library movies on her iPhone.
Joe is a 91-year-old man losing his vision from dry macular degeneration. For more than two years, he has been a regular participant in the Thursday afternoon support group at the Lighthouse. He reported that hearing his fellow group members talk about how much they are doing with voiceover and JAWS, a screen reading program, inspired him to learn. He went out and got himself an iPhone and an authorization to run JAWS on his laptop.
Joe’s goal then became to learn enough about the iPhone to download books from the free National Library Service offered through the Library of Congress, read his email, and learn how to use independence apps for the blind and visually impaired. He also wanted to use JAWS to help him continue banking and paying his bills online.
Since he began coming to the Lighthouse for lessons, he has learned how to navigate the National Library Service website to download books and magazines, read email, and use the voice memo app on his phone to input and retrieve audio messages. He is also well on his way to independently maneuvering through his bank website on his computer using JAWS.
Joe takes learning very seriously. He works hard and learns something new during every lesson. Joe once commented, “I know I am old, but I’m not dead. I still have a few functioning brain cells that allow me to learn new ways to stay independent.” He credited his group for inspiring him and giving him the courage to never give up.
Ronald is a retired middle school teacher and self-proclaimed magician. Since January 2018, Ronald has been homebound after a stroke caused left-side paralysis and vision loss. Ronald had been a social and active person, and struggled with asking for help, ultimately finding himself feeling isolated. Ronald came to the Lighthouse with the goals of learning how to order grocery delivery so as not to rely on his elderly neighbor, how to use Paratransit, and attend a weekly support group. Before COVID-19, Ronald was making progress. He used Paratransit for the first time to attend a support group, where he met three others who also had disabilities and lived alone.
Ronald learned to use basic key commands on a screen to enlarge web searches, and to review and purchase items that his cousin added to his online shopping cart. Also, Ronald learned about GoGo Grocery, a service of GoGo Grandparent, which takes phone orders and completes the delivery without having to use a computer. Ronald stills needs encouragement to use the computer, but soon this plan B will become routine.
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.