It was an ordinary day, just like any other in the middle of a season draped by the wintertime fog of Sacramento. This day though held something different, something promising. Like the spring that was soon to come, it was a day that offered one young woman hope.
Some would say she was reaching too high given whom she was and what she set out to accomplish, but she only had the ordinary hopes and dreams of any young woman. There was something though that held her back. She had a problem she’d never quite got a handle on; she was legally blind and no one, least of all her, knew how she’d make it in a world where no one quite understood.
She came from a decent, middle class family, but one where no one talked much, especially about the things that mattered most. She’d given everything she could to make it in the world up to this point and, somehow all she had to show for it was a monthly S.S.I. check. But this one job prospect just might hold the key to the thing that mattered most, a station in life with meaning.
She was determined and yet a bit reticent; she was born premature, and she was aware that she had many other challenges besides her lack of sight. But one thing she knew: she wanted to carve out a piece of life that she could call her own.
Now she stood at the door to the library, and took a deep breath. She had prepared for this job prospect and prepared well. But she wasn’t sure if she’d make a successful impression. She had not yet been educated in the use of a cane to alert others to her visual disability. Without the explanation that a cane offered, her lack of sight made others uncomfortable with her awkward stare. It was one of the hardest things she’d ever do, to confidently proceed in an environment where nothing was quite clear, yet her future depended on it.
She held her head high as she entered through the heavy glass door. She couldn’t help being a little taken back by the three hour interview. No one there had any idea of how a legally blind person operated, especially on the job.
She waited the longest two weeks without a whisper of an offer for the position. But she was determined, and she had hope that was based in the power of a particular organization that was behind her called the National Federation of the Blind of California. They were dedicated individuals from the NFBC lobbying at the legislature for positions at this library (that served the blind) to be opened up specifically to blind individuals.
She contacted the NFBC and once again conveyed her qualifications and desire to be considered as a serious candidate for this coveted position. Within the week she got the news. Her exclamations of joy could be heard from the rooftops of this sleepy government town. Like the spring that was now blossoming, this opportunity held for her the very real promise of renewal and hope.
The seasons turned, and sooner than she’d even thought possible, twenty years have passed. Being a reader assistant at the Braille and Talking Book library has given her a life full of purpose and meaning. It is her hope that she has served her community well. She sincerely thanks the NFBC for making such a remarkable opportunity possible for her and so many others.
Through eyes that reflect on what was so dear on that far distant day, she’s reminded of the strides we have all made. Though the road to empowerment and employment for a blind person is not an easy one, it is lit though by a beacon illuminated by our hopes and dreams.
Blindness need never be considered a barrier to employment. We can all make a difference. All that is needed is a never failing sense of hope and determination. Working together, with the help of organizations such as the NFB, all things are possible. Success is there for the taking.
* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.