Today I mailed off my final project in hopes of earning my national braille transcriber certification from the Library of Congress! It’s a 35 page manuscript and I must pass with an 80+.
In November 2018 we went through a formal complaint and mediation process with our school district because Kai was not receiving timely, accurate braille materials for his math and science classes. We “won” at mediation and things got much better, but while fighting for braille I felt so helpless. My son was completely at their mercy. It was then, that I decided I wanted to learn to create braille materials, and I set the goal to get certified by the time he graduates high school.
Y’all, when I registered for training to become a braille transcriber in Feb 2019, I didn’t even know the braille alphabet! I honestly cannot believe I’ve made it to this point.
Parents of kids who are blind or low vision often ask if they “should” learn Braille. Here are my thoughts on that, and my answer may surprise you!
Hi everyone, I’m excited to introduce you to a new project by author Jon Marin. His new book, “See Us” is being released soon and it addresses a crucial factor in the lives of young people who are blind and visually impaired – finding meaningful work. Currently, in the US, 70% of blind and visually impaired people do not work. This is due to a variety of factors including prejudice, ableism, education, training and more, and Jon addresses several huge obstacles in his work as the Program Director of The Career Discovery Project. We can learn a lot from him and his clients in his new book “See Us.”
We’d like to thank the fabulous team over at Bold Blind Beauty for choosing Kai to be featured in Beyond Sight Magazine’s Men In Motion. Below is a bit about their online magazine and a link to Kai’s feature article and video.
From Beyond Sight: In 2021 we will be introducing you to incredible young people like Kai Owens who are doing extraordinary things. These young people are extraordinary because in spite of the barriers they encounter daily they persist. Many have learned from an early age to self-advocate and the strength, resilience, and tenacity they possess will change perceptions.
Hi everyone, we hope you are well. We’ve been a little quiet over here, dealing with Kai’s new diagnosis, treatment, college applications, music auditions and a family death. (We’re always keepin’ it real over here!) So, you probably wont hear much from us over the holidays as we attempt to regroup and recharge. However, we wanted to take a moment to wish you a healthy, peaceful holiday season and tell you about something that is making us smile right now. Y’all need to check out the Touch Pad Pro! It’s everything we’ve all dreamed of and more! Below are a few highlights and for more information you can visit the website or listen to an audio interview with founder Daniel Lubiner and Bold Blind Beauty.
“Are you a visually impaired person who just does not feel that there are any opportunities open to you? Are you a parent of a visually impaired young person, and at a loss for how to encourage your child to believe in themselves? Are you a charity that works with visually impaired young people and believes that hearing experiences of others will help inspire your youth group, or individuals and families you work with? …”
Here is the link to the book “Emerging Proud Through Eye Sight Loss” that launched on World Sight Day! Kai is one of the story contributors.
About the launch video: Reposted from EyeInspire2020
Join us to celebrate the Eye Inspire book release on WORLD SIGHT DAY 2020 at 1pm ET (6pm BT). Featuring some of the amazing visually impaired story contributors, talking about their experiences with sight loss and amazing achievements, plus their involvement in the Eye Inspire project as a whole. Also news on how the book will benefit young people with sight loss and how the project will develop further. Expect oodles of inspiration and VIPs!
Kai speaks at 22:30 but the event is filled with awesome guests!
Our special guests span the globe, from USA to Australia! Spread the word and join us for a super inspiring live stream event full of great interviews with amazing VIPs. Featuring Kai Owens, Jonathan Goerlach, Nicole Kada, James Laird, Nigel Limb, Alice Cadman, Bari Azman and Daniel Williams, plus hosted by our founder DJ MissChivers. Nothing is impossible.
To wrap up our month of braille literacy guest blogs, I’ve asked Kai to share his thoughts about braille literacy. Kai has helped several families, with children who are losing their sight, to understand how braille is helpful & relevant in 2020. Kai is now a college-bound senior in a mainstream, public high school and he is at the top of his class. Here’s what he wants you to know about braille.
Feel the Facts by Kai Owens
30% of all blind people are employed, which means 70% are not. 90% of the employed are braille readers. This means that if you do not read braille then there is only a 3% chance that you will be employed in your lifetime. THREE PERCENT!
So, for every 100 blind people who do not read braille there will be only 3 who are employed.
When Kai was 10 and first diagnosed with degenerative sight loss, he was scared. He began to have trouble seeing at night and his first reaction was to build a nest on his bed out of blankets and pillows. One night as mom was tucking him into his nest, he said that he felt bad for all the kids around the world who do not have comfortable places to sleep. Mom had no idea how to tackle that issue on a global scale while also helping her son deal with sight loss, but after many conversations together: Kai’s Comforts was born. Kai decided to collect new, soft, highly tactile pillows and blankets from his community to deliver to his peers who are living at schools for the blind. At first, it started out as a great way for us to do something positive, and connect Kai to peers dealing with sight loss. His first collection was delivered to kids at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. A school for children who are blind and visually impaired about 3 hours from Kai’s mainstream school. The first delivery was a huge success the kids were thrilled to receive their comfort items, and Kai got to meet lots of kids who were “like him.”
I keep hearing that 2020 is the year of “#Acceptance” so today I’d like to respond to a question from a friend who asks: “You seem to have fully accepted Kai’s sight loss. How do you think you were able to do that?” Continue reading “The Mystery of Acceptance”→
Hi, I’m Kai Owens. I am a 16-year-old athlete, drummer, and mainstream high school student. I’m also legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. I’ve done a lot of Orientation & Mobility training locally, and I’ve also traveled extensively in the US and Vancouver, BC. I use my mobility cane at all times and I’ve recently been approved for a guide dog. I’d like to share a few of my observations about when drivers and mobility canes intersect.
At some point, most sighted people have been driving and seen a blind person and panicked. Some of the encounters are full of mistakes that really do not make any sense. I’m going to walk you through a few common mistakes drivers make in hopes of raising awareness. Continue reading “When Drivers & Mobility Canes Intersect”→
The following post was originally written by Kim Owens for FamilyConnect Newsletter:
At the age of 10, my son, Kai, began to lose his vision to an aggressive form of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). My dreams for his life were shattered with the doctor’s words, “blindness, no known cure…” I was blind-sided by his diagnosis and could see only darkness. Continue reading “A New Way to See”→
I am speaking at a new event that is attracting hundreds of family, friends, and educators of the blind and visually impaired community, and shining an exciting light on those that are thriving with blindness. I am one of over 20 speakers (from 6 different countries) for The Succeed Without Sight Summit! Below is a link to get your FREE tickets! I hope you can join us on 11/12-14! – Kim
As the pandemic throws curve ball after curve ball and families and schools struggle to adapt we, at Navigating Blindness, are excited to launch our new series entitled “It Takes a Village.” Today we will hear from Sarah Immerfall as she explains what her son’s village looks like in the midst of a pandemic.
We’d love to hear from you too. If you’d like to share your story, please reach out for specifications using our contact form. Thank you!
As you may know, our son Kai was recently diagnosed with Autoimmune Retinopathy. When we received the new diagnosis we were shocked and we are still adapting to the news. Thankfully, we had already built a strong network through this blog and our social media presence. We reached out to our community and thanks to your shares, our post was viewed more than 8,000 times. Autoimmune Retinopathy (AIR) is extremely rare, but with your help, we were able to connect with 12 people who are navigating AIR and were pointed to a FB Community for Autoimmune Retinopathy with 166 members (#Rare). Becky is one of the people who immediately responded to our pleas for help with an abundance of support and information. I am honored she agreed to share her story here. Thank you Becky.
Guest post by Becky Jayakumar
Hello, I am Becky Jayakumar and I was recently diagnosed with autoimmune retinopathy (AIR). AIR is a rare autoimmune disease that destroys the retinal cells of the eye leading to progressive vision loss. There are different causes of AIR, no set diagnostic criteria, and no standard treatment which makes it a challenging disease to manage.
A year ago, I suddenly experienced visual changes and lost part of my left peripheral vision. Nothing seemed to cause it, nor did anything make it better. That evening, I was hospitalized overnight for an eye ultrasound, brain imaging, and labs and ultimately, these exams came back normal.
Over the next few months, my vision continued to worsen with progressive peripheral vision loss and increasing visual disturbances. During this time, I had more testing than you can imagine with many potential diagnoses which typically eventually got ruled out. My abnormalities included an enlarged blind spot on the left and a slightly reduced thickness of my left optic nerve. My local retinologist and neuro-ophthalmologist weren’t able to do the additional testing to look at function of the eye in NV, so I was referred to Mayo Clinic. Continue reading “Diagnosis of Autoimmune Retinopathy: Becky’s Story”→