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Looking for a job in any market is not very easy. Now, take away your ability to see. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has more on how Missouri is helping the blind make a living.
Missouri ranks in the top of the nation for rehabilitation of blind Americans. The Rehabilitation Services for the Blind helped 521 Missourians find or keep their jobs in 2009. Almost 80 percent of blind persons in the RSB programs found a job compared to 67 percent nationwide.
Scott Rowson is the spokesman for the Missouri Department of Social Service.
“Our rehabilitation services for the blind programs seek to provide that training, to help out with job placement and retention. To work with folks on transportation challenges they may have.”
Rowson says other programs include teaching computer technology and life skills, children services, and other programs.
Nicole Brown is a job developer with community employment in Springfield. But the journey getting this job has been one of many trials. She has a form of lattice disease which has left her visually impaired since birth. The disease gets worse with age. She went to RSB with 20/600 vision. Then Rehabilitation Services helped her get a cornea transplant.
“I couldn’t say enough good things about them, and I’m not just saying that. Without them I’d have it tough right now. They’ve been a great organization. I was lucky to find them.”
The surgery was only in one eye. Her right eye is still 20/600, but the left is now 20/50. But at least, she could see.
“I was so excited, I was so happy I cried. It was amazing.”
After the surgery, Brown cherished the little things in life.
“I had my cornea transplant and I was seeing 100 percent better the next day. I was reading books, I was watching tv from the counch. I could see the numbers on the phone. You know, driving, driving’s a big deal. It was a whole different world.”
The Rehabilitation Services not only paid for the entire transplant, but also helped with other parts of Brown’s life. Now she’s able to work and support her family.
Brown is now holding a job and waiting for more procedures on her eyes. She says she still has stitches from the procedure. Once they’re removed she might have 20/20 vision and can move on to the other eye.
However, life for Brown has never been easy and those difficulties extend far beyond her job searching. As a child she was teased at school. That hasn’t changed.
“You know to be honest in the grown up world, they tease you more. I mean if you’re looking at a computer it never fails or if you’re looking at a cash register or trying to read something or even going to McDonalds and looking at the menu is difficult. And people always say, ‘What are you blind?’ Umm, yeah.”
For more information on Missouri’s rehabilitation services for the blind, you can go to our website- ksmu.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.