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Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired

16625 Grand River Avenue
Detroit, MI 48227
313-272-3900
information@gdabvi.org

November 2012

Earning a college degree is a significant accomplishment for anyone with the opportunity and wherewithal to study hard. For someone who is blind, getting a college education is filled with many additional challenges. Yet despite the odds, Denise Kennedy – a blind resident of southeast Michigan – successfully earned a college degree and built a career leading educational programs for blind and visually impaired people.

Ms. Kennedy is a client of the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We met her when she contacted our agency for assistance with activities of daily living to maintain her independent lifestyle. Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Eric Porter visited Mrs. Kennedy in her home to review her living needs and develop a vision rehab plan that would allow her to safely and securely manage her home and remain active outside her home.

Like many seniors today, Mrs. Kennedy grew up in an era were Braille books and technology were not readily available. She had to have family members read printed books aloud to learn different subjects in school because of inadequate resources. Eventually, she learned Braille and earned admission to the University of Detroit (now named University of Detroit Mercy) where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Mrs. Kennedy’s strong communication skills enabled her to maintain steady employment, including teaching GED classes to adults.

With much hardship over the years, some problems still exist in Mrs. Kennedy’s life. For instance, she feels accessible and reliable transportation is an extremely difficult problem for the blind and visually impaired. She feels, nevertheless, that GDABVI vision rehab helped her safely manage her everyday activities as an older adult. Also, having a positive attitude has made her able to get over the difficulty of having no vision; and she believes learning Braille is the key to becoming independent because Braille allows you to continue learning and to develop social skills.

- Interviewed by Eric Porter, GDABVI Vision Rehab Teacher