Vision Rehabilitation Success Stories

Vision Rehabilitation Changes Lives!

VisionServe member organizations…

provide life-changing programs and services for people of all ages living with blindness and low vision. Read inspiring stories and access a list of our members below.

Jim’s Resilience: A Journey Through Vision Loss

Jim’s life was much like anyone’s, filled with the day-to-day responsibilities of work and family. He spent his weekdays driving a school bus, a job he cherished, particularly for the daily interactions with the kids on his route. However, his life took an unexpected turn one day when he noticed a peculiar issue with his right eye. The diagnosis was severe: a fully detached retina with multiple breaks. Soon after, he was also diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye, marking the end of his driving career and thrusting him into a new, uncertain phase of life.

The transition was daunting for Jim. Simple activities that once came effortlessly, such as watching TV, walking through a hallway, or navigating a grocery store, suddenly became significant challenges. Despite the initial devastation, Jim’s story is predominantly one of remarkable adaptation and resilience. In seeking support, he connected with the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which proved to be a pivotal move in his journey.

At the Society, Jim was introduced to various techniques and tools that assisted him in regaining much of his independence. He learned to use a magnifier and white cane, which were crucial in helping him navigate his new reality. The support groups offered by the Society provided him with a community of individuals who were also adapting to vision loss. Sharing experiences and strategies with others in similar situations helped Jim find the strength and motivation to adjust his life and mindset effectively. Through an occupational therapist, he received training on how to use a portable electronic magnifier and the accessibility features on his phone. Using a combination of improved contrast and screen enlargement, he can now read the SKU numbers on items where he currently works at Home Depot.

Jim’s experience highlights the incredible resilience of the human spirit and the importance of community support in facing life’s unexpected challenges. His ability to adapt and thrive, despite significant hurdles, serves as an inspiring testament to the power of personal determination and community aid. Today, Jim continues to live a fulfilled life, embracing new ways to engage with the world around him. His journey is not just a personal victory but a beacon of hope for others facing similar paths, showing that with the right support and resources, overcoming adversity is possible. Learn more about St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Braille is so much more than raised dots on a page. 

For students facing vision loss and the countless challenges that come with it, braille is a window to the world. Most importantly, it is a daily connector to knowledge and creativity, to confidence and independence. It’s the bridge to reaching one’s full potential.

Braille Challenge is a program in which visually impaired children in grades 1–12 compete in braille literacy fundamentals such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed, accuracy, and proofreading.

Regional competitions culminate in a thrilling two-day final in Los Angeles, where the top 50 finalists from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia come together to put their braille skills to the test, experience camaraderie, and grow in confidence and self-reliance.

A participant who is no stranger to this powerful event is Christopher.

He began learning braille as a toddler. Now in tenth grade, Christopher is excelling academically and hopes to compete this summer in his eighth Braille Challenge, with the goal of earning top prize for a fourth time. (Wow!) And while he’s practicing “like an athlete,” he says the event is about much more than competition …

“Walking around with a cane, I’m automatically different than everybody else. But when I go to Braille Challenge, it’s one of the few times ever that people like me can be surrounded by other people that go through the same stuff, and we fit in.”

For people who believe that Christopher and other blind and visually impaired kids deserve their best shot at a full life, Braille Challenge is a no-brainer. It is a crucial stepping stone toward a complete education, a successful career, and independence. And it remains a critical key to living a richer life without boundaries.

Braille Challenge is a 24-year-old program empowering youth living with vision loss! Learn more about the Braille Institute and the Braille Challenge.

A Transformational Journey

December 17, 2022, will always be a special day for Kristen Ingalz. That’s when she and her yellow Lab, Bestie, graduated as a guide dog team Guide Dogs for the Blind’s (GDB) Oregon campus. “To say that Bestie has changed my life is an understatement,” she says.

A few years earlier, Kristen, a wife, mother, and aspiring Japanese translator, was attempting to seek out orientation and mobility (O&M) services near her home in San Jose, Calif. She had experienced changes to her peripheral vision and knew that she needed to learn the O&M skills necessary for safe, independent travel with a white cane. However, finding O&M instruction was proving to be difficult.

Kristen attempted to enroll in a formal program but the agency only accepted school-age clients or senior citizens. Kristen then explored do-it-yourself O&M training by watching YouTube videos. Needless to say, the resources were lacking and after several run-ins with overhead obstacles that left her with concussions, she found herself staying home more often. Eventually, she only felt comfortable leaving home when she was with other people who could help her remain safe.

Fortunately, a friend told her about GDB’s Orientation and Mobility Immersion (OMI) Program, and it was exactly what she needed. She quickly applied and attended the course. “I learned more in a week than I did in the previous several years,” says Kristen.

To learn more about Kristen’s transformational journey with GDB please follow this link. For more information about GDB’s services visit

For Myke, things are looking up 

Myke was driving home from work and about a mile away from his home, after a busy day working as a certified public accountant (CPA) at his office. Suddenly, a small tornado ripped a tree limb about eight inches in diameter and hurled it through the windshield of his car. The limb struck him right in the face, breaking bones, and destroying his right eye. “I was in such bad shape, the first responders didn’t believe I would survive,” Myke said.

Despite their best efforts to reduce the swelling from his traumatic brain injury (TBI), doctors were unable to save the sight in Myke’s left eye. In the hospital, he was heavily sedated for a long time. Once he regained consciousness, he realized he could touch, hear, and move. But he was now totally blind. He would have to start from scratch, learning how to pick up a cup, walk, eat, and care for himself — this time, without sight.

At first, Myke was grieving and angry. He felt a deep sense of hopelessness and abandonment when he thought about his future. VisionCorps reached out while Myke was recovering in the hospital. He couldn’t walk when Chris, an orientation and mobility specialist, first met him. Myke began training with a white cane and learned how to walk again, first with assistance, and then, independently. Myke was thankful that as soon as he started rehab, VisionCorps was by his side – and has stayed with him through his recovery. “I had to learn to do everything all over again. It was hard and frustrating, yet they were understanding and patient with me.”

VisionCorps stayed with Myke after he was released to his home. Over time, he transitioned to different living environments and through each transition. Katarina, a certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS) worked with him. She taught him how to walk around his neighborhood and oriented him to his backyard so he could get to a swing set with his granddaughter. When Myke moved to an assisted living location, Katarina was there to help train facility staff and anyone who worked with him on human guide and white cane etiquette. Katarina said Myke also worked on his own to explore and learn how to use mass transit. “I don’t want to sit here for the rest of my life. I want to do things. Before the accident, I was active,” said Myke.

One example is Myke choosing a rappel adventure. Myke decided to participate in VisionCorps’ annual Eye Drop event, in which participants rappel down 10 stories of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Lancaster. Rappelling was an exhilarating experience.

It has been a long and difficult road to recovery, but Myke has a good sense of humor and a strong faith to carry him through. He said he is grateful for the help he’s received and is ready for the next step in his journey. “I can’t tell you how much better I feel knowing that VisionCorps will be there to guide me every step of the way.” Read Myke’s full story. Learn more about VisionCorps

Moving Forward with Gratitude

Vivian was diagnosed with Rod/Cone Dystrophy when she was 14 years old. This inherited retinal degeneration affects the ability to capture images from the visual field. Over time, people with this condition experience vision loss as the cones and rods deteriorate.

Despite the challenges of vision loss at a young age, Vivian remained determined to pursue her dreams. She is a devoted mother of four children and enjoys going on family outings, creating new vegan dishes, and promoting health and wellness. In 2020, she became a certified personal trainer and received training from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services.

Through this training, Vivian discovered an opportunity to become a Blue Awning Yoga and Wellness yoga instructor. She attended The Himalayan Yoga Institute and completed the yoga teacher’s program in May 2023. Her instructor, Kate, praised Vivian as a bright light and a joy to have in class. During her training, Vivian connected with the philosophies of yoga and the breath work used to reset the nervous system and calm the mind and body.

Vivian continues to pursue a healthy lifestyle while sharing her knowledge and promoting a space of awareness in her yoga classes. In 2024, she founded VIVID Fitness to ensure that fitness is accessible to all. While developing her business plan, Vivian sought services at Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh. We provided her with an iPad and the necessary training to succeed in her business. The scheduling and accounting apps were particularly helpful in pursuing her dreams. Vivian’s motto of “Move Forward with an Attitude of Gratitude” is evident in all she accomplishes. Learn more about Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services Pittsburg

Moving InTandem 

How InTandem Has Affected Me! When I was 12, I was told I would one day lose my eyesight. I looked at the doctor and thought if that ever happened, I would banish myself from society. But what did my 12 year old self know? Apparently nothing because 7 years after going blind, I am living my best life ever, not hiding from society. And InTandem is one of the things I do to enrich my life.

I decided to try InTandem biking last September after buying a stationary bicycle during the pandemic. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle since elementary school. My compromised eyesight prevented me from safely riding as a kid. I was nervous to ride because now I had to trust another human being to navigate a two person bike, while I rode in the back. Would the bike fall over due to some accidental oversight by the captain or, would I cause the captain to lose control of the bike? But the adventure seeker in me decided I had to give InTandem a try.

Fully trusting my captain, I embarked on a new hobby that has allowed me to experience outdoor sports like never before. As we ride through Central park, I visualize all the smells and sounds in my minds eye as we wiz by them. When you are blind, there are  things you are no longer able to do independently. Riding a bicycle outdoors WAS one of those things, but In Tandem has given that back to me.  Click here for more information about InTandem

Building Skills in Infancy

Ryan’s early intervention progress report needs to be updated regularly. Each time his developmental interventionist (DI) from Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) visits with Ryan and his mother, in-person or virtually, she is amazed by the new skills he has learned as well as the continued readiness of his engaging smile and sense of humor. Ryan was first referred to VIPS when he was nine months old.

After a typical gestational period and normal birth, Ryan enjoyed a healthy infancy until he acquired a viral infection leaving him with a hypoxic brain injury, cerebral palsy, and cortical/cerebral visual impairment. Ryan has regained his ability to sit with the physical support of his mother and father; he communicates with word approximations, gestures, and vocalizations, and practices his self-advocacy skills by letting his parents and sister know what he wants and what he can do without. His successes are shared between his VIPS DI and mother as they celebrate together and build on the new skills

Ryan demonstrates. Just recently, as the two met virtually, Ryan’s mother worked with Ryan to strengthen his visual skill of shifting his gaze from one object to another. This is a precursor skill used in choice-making. As Ryan focused on just one of the objects, his DI showed his mother how to add movement to the objects to awaken his vision. After just a few trials, Ryan was on his way to shifting his gaze with very little adaptation.

The partnership between these two team members is remarkable. Just ask Ryan – his smile and giggles tell the whole story! Learn more about Visually Impaired Preschool Services

Fostering Independence  

From a struggling 6th grader to a successful business owner. Kevin came to The New York Institute for Special Education (NYISE) after struggling in public school.

He had limited skills and was frustrated at times. Working with a staff member he developed a love for photography. Gaining more self-confidence, he started to excel in school. Kevin became an advocate for himself as well as advocating for the needs of the school. His focus on the future led him to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where he received a full scholarship.

After graduating, he founded his business Two Rivers Productions. Now Kevin is living his dream. He and his team do photo shoots and a variety of multi-media productions. Kevin has been a photographer at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City for several years. Kevin’s determination to succeed and the support of the staff at NYISE paved the way for his career in film.

The New York Institute for Special Education founded in 1831 provides education programs for students ages 5 to 21 who are blind or visually impaired. Fostering independence, building self-esteem and striving for a successful career have always been goals for the students. Over the years, many famous individuals who are blind or visually impaired went on to successful careers in a variety of fields. Kevin is an example of a recent graduate.  Learn more

Welcomed with Open Arms

I went totally blind shortly before the pandemic hit due a prescribed medication I was taking.  This was a horrible shock and trauma for me as it was totally unexpected. I felt alone, scared, and hopeless. I felt like my life was over.  About a year ago, I found the Center of the Blind in New London through a friend of mine in who lives in California of all places!  I was searching for an organization that offered some kind of support meetings near me. 

I spoke to Wendy Lusk, the Executive Director who welcomed me immediately and provided me the information I was looking for. She offered to drive me to my first support group meeting at the Center. I was totally amazed with the information and support that was offered at my first meeting.  Everyone welcomed me with open arms and was very accommodating to my needs and concerns.  The host of the support group was very informative in using the accessibility features of the iPhone.  As this is my only means of communication, I was also able to give some input on this topic from my experience.  I immediately became a member of the Center of the Blind after my first support meeting.
I feel that I found a new purpose for my life through the help of the South East CT Community Center of the Blind and I’m thankful for the volunteers and the staff for everything they’ve done for me since becoming a member.  Learn More about the South East CT Community Center of the Blind.

Empowering Teen Camps  

As summer approaches and camp sessions begin at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) for the Blind, the week-long “boot camp” for those new to blindness skills training, is about to kick-off.  This session, Changing Vision, Changing Life, offered by LightHouse for the Blind’s EHC, is only the beginning of a season full of camp sessions for blind campers of all ages. EHC is a transformative experience for those who attend; just ask longtime camp attendee, Ellie, whose experiences at Youth and Teen camp changed her life and paved the way for a plethora of new opportunities. “My first summer at EHC was 2016,” Ellie recalls, “I was 12 or 13.” For years, her TVI had been begging her to attend, boasting about the potential to make new friends and learn new skills. “After three years, I finally went. As soon as I hit the pavement on the first day of camp, I heard the buzz of everyone talking and catching up. I smelled the camp air and the camp smells, and I was so excited. All of a sudden, [EHC Director] Tony Fletcher did his ‘Hello EHC!’, and when everyone responded with ‘EHC is the place to be!’ and then did their clap, I knew it would be a great summer.
After nearly a decade, Ellie remains an integral part of camp. “I’ve been associated with camp now for eight years, and I’ve worked my way up the ranks. I was Counselor, then Enrichment Area Leader. Now this summer I will be Assistant Director.”  While she takes pride in moving up the ranks, she admits that it has its challenges, “You have to be willing to share your experiences with the campers and other counselors. Sometimes that’s hard; it’s very personal to many people, but I find it’s a way to connect with people.”

The EHC road has led her to opportunities she never expected, such as becoming an EHC Administrative Intern, funded by the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). Ellie shares, “They (DOR) did a collaboration with Tony and my college. Not only do I get paid for this internship, but I also am getting college credits.” At LightHouse, Ellie smiles as she holds up the EHC American Camp Association accreditation binder she has worked on during her internship. Learn more about LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired San Francisco   

A Challenging Roadmap

In 2019, 15-year-old high school student Matthew lived a happy, everyday teenage life until his world was turned upside down. Matthew was diagnosed with a brain tumor, resulting in two surgeries to remove the malignant mass. When Matthew awoke after the second surgery, he was left completely blind.

The sudden loss of sight shocked Matthew and his family and created a challenging roadmap that tested the required mental fortitude and painstaking hard work to get his life back on track. He shares, “After losing my vision, it was very hard to adapt for a long time. It’s why I was out of school for like one full year.”

After the pandemic, he transferred to the New York Institute. Matthew says, “Ever since I’ve transferred, I feel that my disabilities are more welcomed and I guess I could say that it’s more of my home — they’re all good-hearted and I think that as a blind community, it’s nice to have each other’s back. Matthew was referred to Lighthouse Guild in 2020 where he learned about the many programs and services offered.

The Youth Transition Program interested him most. He says, “[T]hat was the [program] that I felt would introduce me to the world. To the blind community.” Matthew started the program before he went back to school. It was a way for him to socialize with other kids, many of whom were the first kids he had ever met who were blind. At the time, the program was remote, but Matthew says it was welcoming and fun — which he credits to the Coordinator of Youth Programs Jaydan Mitchell. Matthew shares, “[Jaydan] knew that I was new to this whole thing, so he was very supportive, very encouraging to me. He always knew when I had a hard time and he made me feel comfortable.” Click here to enjoy the entire article. Learn more about Lighthouse Guild.

Empowering Employment  

Dexter’s story is one of resilience, determination, and finding purpose in his work despite facing vision loss. His journey at the Lighthouse began four years ago when he began as a Production Worker at our Summerville, South Carolina location. This position allowed him to contribute to the creation of essential parts for aerospace companies and the military. He describes the feeling of fulfillment that comes from working with equipment and machinery, allowing him to remain hands-on and engaged.

Dexter’s enthusiasm for his work shines through as he shares his favorite aspects. He has found a deep connection with the equipment used for assembly. His fascination with becoming a CNC operator is evident; he highlights the thrill of working with machinery that cuts metal and the tactile experience it provides. Dexter’s journey has not been without its challenges. He lost his sight due to a gunshot in 1989. The adjustment was tough, requiring him to relearn many things. However, with unwavering support from his family, he managed to navigate this difficult period.

After facing rejection in the job market due to misconceptions about his abilities, Dexter’s life took a positive turn when he discovered the Lighthouse. At the Lighthouse he found more than just employment, he found a sense of belonging and purpose. The adaptive equipment and understanding environment allowed him to thrive, and he found comfort in his work. Dexter’s story serves as a powerful reminder that challenges can be transformed into opportunities. His dedication to his work, his commitment to learning, and his openness to embracing new experiences shine through as he continues to excel in his role. Learn more.

Click here to Learn more about Vision Rehabilitation Week

Click here to access our Toolkit with easy-to-use images and content to help spread the word!

Locate a VisionServe Alliance member providing life-changing services near you.