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Careers for the Blind

Careers for the Blind

By Harrison Hoyes

Careers for the blind and visually impaired. This is an interview series with Blind and visually impaired people who hold various types of jobs and careers.
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Episode 52 - Lawyer at Public Justice - Karla Gilbride
Episode 52 - Lawyer at Public Justice - Karla Gilbride
Karla lost her sight early in life. From a young age she had an interest in becoming a Lawyer and ultimately graduated from Georgetown University Law School. She's worked at several different law firms throughout her career, and today is a lawyer at Public Justice.
42:38
November 20, 2022
Episode 51 - Lead Accessibility Consultant at Target and Triathlete - Randi Strunk
Episode 51 - Lead Accessibility Consultant at Target and Triathlete - Randi Strunk
Randi lost most of her sight at birth and experienced further vision loss later in life.  She began her career in Vision Rehabilitation, but ultimately found a passion in Digital Accessibility. She has also completed 15 Triathlons. 
46:28
November 09, 2022
Episode 50 - Professional Athlete - Lex Gillette
Episode 50 - Professional Athlete - Lex Gillette
Lex is the best totally blind long and triple jumper in the history of the U.S. Paralympic movement. He is the current world record holder in the long jump, a five-time Paralympic medalist, a four-time long jump world champion, and an 18-time national champion.
47:09
September 23, 2022
4 Day Fundraiser Sept 16 to 20- Latin Night - Alexandria Virginia Chapter of NFB
4 Day Fundraiser Sept 16 to 20- Latin Night - Alexandria Virginia Chapter of NFB
The Alexandria Virginia Chapter of the NFB will be fundraising for a Latin Night. September 16th 3pm to September 20th a 3pm. https://s.dgpopup.com/rm82g49f Latin Night will be October 29th 7 - 10pm - The Westin Tysons Corner, Falls Church, Virginia Evelyn can be reached at: evelyn.valdez212@gmail.com
07:44
September 16, 2022
Episode 49 - Chief Accessibility Officer - Jeff Wissel
Episode 49 - Chief Accessibility Officer - Jeff Wissel
Jeff spent most of his career in Financial Services and has moved on to make more significant impact in the world as the Chief Accessibility Officer at Disability:IN. Listen to episode 21 to hear Jeff's experience with Retinitis Pigmentosa, and his successful career path. 
30:46
September 07, 2022
Careers for the Blind podcast trailer
Careers for the Blind podcast trailer
Careers for the Blind podcast trailer
00:43
September 07, 2022
Episode 48 - Professional Musician - Matthew Whitaker
Episode 48 - Professional Musician - Matthew Whitaker
Matthew lost his sight due to complications resulting from his premature birth. Early in life he discovered he had a strong aptitude for music. While he is currently attending The Juilliard School, his incredible talent has already taken him around the world to perform. Check out his album Connections, and his website www.matthewwhitaker.net
27:07
August 12, 2022
Episode 37 part 2 - Dr. Kirk Adams - Innovative Impact L.L.C.
Episode 37 part 2 - Dr. Kirk Adams - Innovative Impact L.L.C.
This is a follow-up conversation with Dr. Kirk Adams who has launched his consulting business Innovative Impact LLC. He is looking to consult for fun, innovative, impactful, and well-funded organizations who desire to be inclusive of people with disabilities and particularly people who are blind. He can be reached at kirkadams000@gmail.com, or by phone or text 206-660-1363.
23:36
July 17, 2022
Episode 47 - Occupational Therapist - Jenice Heck
Episode 47 - Occupational Therapist - Jenice Heck
Jenice lost her sight gradually to Leber Congenital Amaurosis. Her supportive parents enabled her to be successful in school, and ultimately to becoming an Occupational Therapist.  She is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Lighthouse Louisiana, an Adjunct Professor, and has a YouTube channel called Insight4Blind.  
39:27
June 26, 2022
Episode 46 - C.E.O. at Earle Baum Center - Bob Sonnenberg
Episode 46 - C.E.O. at Earle Baum Center - Bob Sonnenberg
Bob is a low vision person who lost his sight late in life.  His strong work ethic and positive attitude lead him to working for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and ultimately to his current position as CEO at the Earle Baum Center, a training center for the blind and low vision.
44:19
May 28, 2022
Episode 45 - Adjunct Professor in Blindness Rehabilitation - Sarahelizageth Baguhn, Ph.D., COMS, CATIS
Episode 45 - Adjunct Professor in Blindness Rehabilitation - Sarahelizageth Baguhn, Ph.D., COMS, CATIS
Sarahelizabeth lost her side gradually into her early working life. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher and she didn't let her vision loss deter her from pursuing her passion. She has her Ph.D., and is a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, as well as a Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist.
29:33
May 15, 2022
Episode 44 - Automobile Mechanic and Certified Assistive Technology Specialist - Eli Sanchez
Episode 44 - Automobile Mechanic and Certified Assistive Technology Specialist - Eli Sanchez
Eli lost his sight at a very early age.  He maintains a positive attitude and open mind to trying new things.  He has been an automobile mechanic, and is currently working as aCertified Assistive Technology Specialist at Adaptive Technology Services.
36:16
May 07, 2022
Episode 43 - Chemist and Entrepreneur - Hoby Wedler
Episode 43 - Chemist and Entrepreneur - Hoby Wedler
Hoby was born blind, but had incredible parents that helped him stay positive and motivated.  He has his Ph. D. In Organic Chemistry from UC Davis, and is now an entrepreneur having started several companies.  He helped develop Tasting in the Dark, and consults with companies on improving their sensory experiences.  Learn more about his companies at Hoby.com
25:04
April 25, 2022
Episode 42 - Superintendent at Miami International Airport - Stephen Podley
Episode 42 - Superintendent at Miami International Airport - Stephen Podley
Stephen Podley lost his sight gradually due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.  He struggled with his diagnosis briefly, but went on to hold many different positions.  Today he is the Superintendent at Miami International Airport.
32:42
March 26, 2022
Episode 41 - Chief Programs Officer at AFB - Sylvia Stinson-Perez
Episode 41 - Chief Programs Officer at AFB - Sylvia Stinson-Perez
Sylvia lost her sight gradually due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.  She built a reputation that lead to her becoming the CEO for Lighthouse for the Blind in Florida for 11 years, and currently serving as the Chief Programs Officer at AFB.
51:48
March 20, 2022
Episode 40 - Computer Access Trainer - Michael Bryant
Episode 40 - Computer Access Trainer - Michael Bryant
Michael lost his sight gradually due to retinitis pigmentosa in his mid-30s.  He struggled with depression as he was no longer able to be a professional illustrator, but through his faith in God and maintaining a positive attitude he has been able to move forward. He is currently a Computer Access Trainer at the VA Healthcare Services in New Jersey.
56:53
December 20, 2021
Episode 39 - President of Honig International and TruckPay - Barry Honig
Episode 39 - President of Honig International and TruckPay - Barry Honig
Barry lost his sight gradually due to Leber Congenital Amaurosis. He had to advocate for himself from a young age as those around him were not sure how he would accomplish his work. His strong determination let him to graduate from Columbia university with a degree in Applied Mathematics. He has worked at IBM, MorganStanley, and today is the President of Honig International and President and CEO of TruckPay.
45:34
November 27, 2021
Episode 38 - Accessibility Lead at Walmart.com - Carrie Farber
Episode 38 - Accessibility Lead at Walmart.com - Carrie Farber
Carrie lost her sight gradually due to retinitis pigmentosa. It wasn't until her 20s that her vision started to impact her life more significantly. She tried to hide her vision loss from her colleagues at first, but once she embraced her situation she found a passion for accessibility and made herself an opportunity to become the Accessibility Lead at Walmart.com.
35:16
November 16, 2021
Episode 37 - C.E.O. at American Foundation for the Blind - Dr. Kirk Adams
Episode 37 - C.E.O. at American Foundation for the Blind - Dr. Kirk Adams
Dr. Kirk Adams lost his sight at an early age, but having great role models in his parents, had a high regard for education and seeking employment.  He struggled to find work, but cast a wide net and took a position as a municipal bond salesman.  He transitioned into the non-profit world through fundraising and knew leadership was ultimately where he wanted to be.
38:11
November 06, 2021
Episode 36 - Legally Blind and Looking For Work - Jeff Wissel
Episode 36 - Legally Blind and Looking For Work - Jeff Wissel
After 28 years with one company, Jeff took a voluntary offer to leave and find another adventure.  He shares his experience as a legally blind person looking for a job. 
23:49
October 23, 2021
Episode 35 - Climate Scientist - Newton Nguyen
Episode 35 - Climate Scientist - Newton Nguyen
Newton is a Climate Scientist and Ph.D at CalTech University.  He lost his sight at an early age due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. His passion for math and science is coupled with a desire to prove to himself and others that math and science is possible for the blind.
48:44
October 03, 2021
Episode 34 - Medical Doctor - Dr. Ian Kloehn
Episode 34 - Medical Doctor - Dr. Ian Kloehn
Ian is a visually impaired person with Optic Nerve Atrophy.  He attended Kansas City University - college of Osteopathic Medicine.  Currently, he is a resident at Phornix Children’s Hospital.
28:60
September 13, 2021
Episode 33 - Army Veteran now Chocolatier and Real Estate Investor - Aaron Hale
Episode 33 - Army Veteran now Chocolatier and Real Estate Investor - Aaron Hale
Aaron Hale, a 14 year veteran, military chef and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (E.O.D) team leader has overcome all odds. From the moment a blast robbed Aaron of his vision in Afghanistan to years later when he lost his hearing, he refused to accept defeat,.
56:20
July 03, 2021
Episode 32 - Technology Consultant and Musician - Tyler
Episode 32 - Technology Consultant and Musician - Tyler
Tyler is losing his sight to a genetic condition called Stickler Syndrom.  He tried to fit in as a sighted person for most of his life, but is now begining to embrace his situation.  The struggle of confronting vision loss is real, and Tyler hopes to help others facing a similar struggle by sharing his story.
50:11
June 18, 2021
Episode 31 - Assistent General Counsel at Facebook - Jack Chen
Episode 31 - Assistent General Counsel at Facebook - Jack Chen
Jack Chen lost his sight from an early age due to a failed eye operation.  He remained motivated and initially pursued Computer Science, completing his undergrad at Harvard and a masters at UC Berkley.  He ultimately found his passion in patent law and completed a law degree as well.  He is currently Assistant General Counsel @Facebook, and leads the core Online Advertising Product Legal Team.
01:02:46
May 31, 2021
Episode 30 - Central Intelligence Agency - Analyst
Episode 30 - Central Intelligence Agency - Analyst
This C.I.A. Officer lost her sight as a teenager.  After a brief adjustment period she was back to forging her own path.  In college she discovered the C.I.A., and is currently an Officer with the agency as an Analyst.
33:54
May 12, 2021
Episode 29 - Freelance Accessibility Consultant and WordPress Professional - Taylor Arndt
Episode 29 - Freelance Accessibility Consultant and WordPress Professional - Taylor Arndt
Taylor has been blind since birth.  She planned to major in Computer Science, but circumstances as a result of COVID lead her to start her own business.  She is now a Freelance Accessibility Consultant, and WordPress Professional.
17:32
May 04, 2021
Episode 28 - Substance Abuse Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist - Mike Moran
Episode 28 - Substance Abuse Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist - Mike Moran
Mike Moran lost his sight from an early age due to Congenital Glaucoma.  He’s been a Substance Abuse Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Field Representative for the Seeing Eye.
43:07
April 26, 2021
Episode 27 - College and Career Advisor at EDGE - Melissa Lomax
Episode 27 - College and Career Advisor at EDGE - Melissa Lomax
Melissa lost her sight from a young age due to a hereditary form of Glaucoma. She was an excellent student throughout high school and college, and her networking ability helped her land her first two jobs since graduating.  She is currently the College and Career Advisor at the EDGE Employment Transition Program.
38:55
April 20, 2021
Episode 26 - Web Accessibility Specialist - Preston Radtke
Episode 26 - Web Accessibility Specialist - Preston Radtke
Preston has been blind since birth due to Cone-Rod Dystrophy.  Through the use of Braille and assistive technology he has completed his undergraduate and Masters degree.  He is currently a Web Accessibility Specialist and part time lecturer
31:02
March 27, 2021
Episode 25 - Software Engineer at J.P. Morgan - Ida Behreini
Episode 25 - Software Engineer at J.P. Morgan - Ida Behreini
Ida lost her sight gradually from a young age due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. While attending Drew University she learned about the EDGE program, which helped prepare her with employability skills. Her hard work and determination has resulted in her current position as a Software Engineer at J.P. Morgan.
35:03
March 13, 2021
Episode 24 - Lawyer, Fitness Instructor, and Director of EDGE - Pat McKenna
Episode 24 - Lawyer, Fitness Instructor, and Director of EDGE - Pat McKenna
Pat lost his site at the age of five due to an auto immune disease called Ten Syndrom. He has been a fitness instructor, a lawyer, worked for the Seeing Eye, and is currently the director of the EDGE program in New Jersey, a employment readiness program for students.
44:27
March 07, 2021
Episode 23 - Executive Director at Blind Institute of Technology - Mike Hess
Episode 23 - Executive Director at Blind Institute of Technology - Mike Hess
Mike lost his site gradually from an early age do to macular degeneration.  He spent two decades as a computer applications programmer, but then went on to start his own Executive Recruitement company for people with disabilities called Blind Institute of Technology.
33:53
February 28, 2021
Episode 22 - Computer Scientist - Director of Accessibility at SAS - Ed Summers
Episode 22 - Computer Scientist - Director of Accessibility at SAS - Ed Summers
Ed lost his sight gradually due to retinitis pigmentosa. While there were times he struggled with his sight, he chose to ignore the problem throughout college and his early working life. Once he embraced his situation, that's when his career really took off.
01:03:11
February 21, 2021
Episode 21 - Director of the Office of Customer Accessibility at Fidelity - Jeff Wissel
Episode 21 - Director of the Office of Customer Accessibility at Fidelity - Jeff Wissel
Jeff has been losing his side gradually due to retinitis pigmentosa. For most of his career he tried to hide his vision loss. Once he embraced his situation he found a renewed passion for his career, and is currently the Director of the Office of Customer Accessibility at Fidelity.
43:33
February 07, 2021
Episode 20 - Principal Product Delivery Manager at Spectrum - Jessica Loomer
Episode 20 - Principal Product Delivery Manager at Spectrum - Jessica Loomer
Jessica attended the university of Arizona, and was pursuing a normal cited career path. At the age of 27 she lost the majority of her central vision to Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. She struggled for a short time as she adjusted to her vision loss, but once she embraced her situation her career took off.
35:25
January 31, 2021
Episode 19 - Chief Executive Officer - Dan Berlin
Episode 19 - Chief Executive Officer - Dan Berlin
In January 2021 I had a conversation with Dan Berlin.  Dan has been losing his site gradually his entire life. He struggled with letting people know that he had issues with his vision but was able to complete his undergraduate and masters degree in microbiology. He went on to have a successful career in corporate America, but ultimately followed his desire of owning his own business. With a business partner, and Dan as the chief executive officer, their company Rodelle went on to become a world leader and vanilla extract.  Today, after having sold the company, Dan spends most of his time engaged in various investment and philanthropic work.  He is particularly involved with teams see possibilities; an organization at awards scholarships to Blind college students.  To learn more about the scholarship program and the team see possibilities organization you can visit www.teamseepossibilities.com.
43:35
January 24, 2021
Episode 18 - Chief Inspiration Officer - David DeNotaris
Episode 18 - Chief Inspiration Officer - David DeNotaris
David lost his site at an early age you due to retinitis pigmentosa.  By the age of 19 he had no usable vision. He completed his college degree and after working for a number of years went back and completed his masters degree as well. He is currently the chief inspiration officer for his company Sky's The Limit.
43:07
December 30, 2020
Episode 17 - University Professor - Dr. Joseph Donnelly
Episode 17 - University Professor - Dr. Joseph Donnelly
Dr. Joseph Donnelly lost the majority of his sight at an early age do to Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.  As a visually impaired person in college he wasn't sure what career he would pursue. Joseph completed his undergraduate work and went on to his masters and doctorate program. He has spent the last 25 years as a professor at Montclair State University
39:39
December 12, 2020
Episode 16 - Executive Director of U.S.A.B.A. - Mark Lucas
Episode 16 - Executive Director of U.S.A.B.A. - Mark Lucas
Mark is a sighted person, but he served as executive director for the United States Association of Blind athletes for 20 years. Mark shares his story of how he became the executive director of the U.S.A.B.A. and some of the remarkable feats that he’s witnessed blind and visually impaired people accomplish. 
33:08
December 06, 2020
Episode 15 - Head of Sales for New York/New Jersey at Cigna - Kevin Szott
Episode 15 - Head of Sales for New York/New Jersey at Cigna - Kevin Szott
Kevin was declared legally blind from an early age, and has continued to lose vision throughout his life.  He has been a strength coach, trained with the US Olympic team in Judo, but ultimately found his passion for sales.  He is currently the Head of Sales for the New York/New Jersey region for Cigna.
57:38
November 14, 2020
Episode 14 - Inclusion and Collaboration Global Strategy Research Lead at Cisco - Mary Fernandez
Episode 14 - Inclusion and Collaboration Global Strategy Research Lead at Cisco - Mary Fernandez
Mary lost her sight at a very early age.  She considered many different career paths growing up.  After having a few jobs during and after college, she decided to get her MBA and is currently the Inclusion and Collaboration Global Strategy Research Lead at Cisco.
01:00:04
November 06, 2020
Episode 13 - Industrial Organizational Psychologist - Dr. Susan D'Mello
Episode 13 - Industrial Organizational Psychologist - Dr. Susan D'Mello
Dr. Susan D'Mello has been legally blind from a young age as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa.  She knew by the time she was in high school that she wanted to be a Psychologist, and refined that dream in college when she discovered her passion for Industrial Organizational Psychology.  She is now a Sr. Research Scientist at HumRRO.
54:10
October 25, 2020
Episode 12 - Director of Research at AFB, and Teacher - Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum
Episode 12 - Director of Research at AFB, and Teacher - Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum
Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum has been a visually impaired person her whole life.  She initially started her career as a teacher, but later went back to school for her Ph.D. to focus on research.  Today she is the Director of Research for the American Foundation for the Blind. 
38:41
October 11, 2020
Episode 11 - Teacher Coach, Athlete, and Motivational Speaker - Rich Ruffalo
Episode 11 - Teacher Coach, Athlete, and Motivational Speaker - Rich Ruffalo
Rich Ruffalo lost his sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa over many years, and lost his remaining useable vision in his 30's.  He always wanted to be a teacher and he wasn't going to let anything stop him from fulfilling his dreams.  He ultimately became an award winning teacher, and paralympic gold medalist several times over.  He has also shared his positive approach to life through his motivational speaking.
52:27
October 04, 2020
Episode 10 - Lawyer - T R E Legal Practice - Al Elia
Episode 10 - Lawyer - T R E Legal Practice - Al Elia
Al Lost his sight gradually due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.  He started out as a Software Engineer, but once his vision finally failed him in his 30's, he decided to go to Law School for a career change.  
01:01:03
September 27, 2020
Episode 9 - Mental Health Counselor - Anthony Andreottola
Episode 9 - Mental Health Counselor - Anthony Andreottola
Anthony lost his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa over roughly a 20 year period.  it wasn't until he was in his 20's that a truck accident and eye injury, caused him to get an eye exam and be diagnosed.  A career change was in order and he found his passion of helping others as a mental health counselor.
33:50
September 24, 2020
Episode 8 - Assistive Technology and Training - Business Owner - Sherlock Washington
Episode 8 - Assistive Technology and Training - Business Owner - Sherlock Washington
Sherlock lost his sight gradually from a young age due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.  He found a passion for computers and received a Computer Science degree from Ryder University.  He struggled to find work at first, but ultimately excelled so much in the positions he held that he started his own company.  He can be found at www.SWUnlimited.com 
01:20:07
September 16, 2020
Episode 7 - Logistics Management Specialist - Evelyn Valdez
Episode 7 - Logistics Management Specialist - Evelyn Valdez
Evelyn lost her sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa over several years starting in her late teens.  She struggled with not knowing what was happening to her sight at first, but ultimately attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind, and became a Logistics Management Specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
01:27:53
September 09, 2020
Episode 6 supplement - Computer Programmer - John Bailey
Episode 6 supplement - Computer Programmer - John Bailey
Follow up discussion with John Bailey.  How he became a computer programmer. 
19:59
September 05, 2020
Episode 6 - Computer Programmer - John Bailey
Episode 6 - Computer Programmer - John Bailey
John lost his sight gradually to Juvenile Macular Degeneration.  Even though he didn't go to school for computer programming, his passion for computers motivated him to pursue a career with computers that evolved into computer programming.  John shares with us that accepting reality and no longer pretending to be something your not, will enable you to start succeeding in all aspects of life.  
59:52
September 02, 2020
Episode 5 - DOD - Section 508 Compliance Coordinator - Ameenah
Episode 5 - DOD - Section 508 Compliance Coordinator - Ameenah
Ameenah lost her sight at a very early age, but her mother motivated her to never give up and pursue a fulfilling life that included gainful employment.  Ameenah has held various jobs working with accessible technologies, and ultimately found her passion helping other blind people at the Department of Defense utilize those technologies to continue their careers.
01:33:48
August 25, 2020
Episode 4 - CEO and Chairman of Multinational Companies
Episode 4 - CEO and Chairman of Multinational Companies
Jean quickly rose through the ranks to become President of his company at the age of 39.  He started losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 45.  He shares his story of struggle and success of trying to maintain his CEO status, support a family, and doing it while losing his sight.  
44:02
August 09, 2020
Episode 3 - Woodworker and Craftsman - George Wurtzel
Episode 3 - Woodworker and Craftsman - George Wurtzel
George Wurtzel is a woodworker and craftsman specializing in custom furniture, store displays, porch pillar restoration, architectural millwork replication, and art.  He lost his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa at an early age, but it hasn't slowed him down.  
01:13:01
August 09, 2020
Episode 2 - Accessibility Manager at UHC - Ryan Strunk
Episode 2 - Accessibility Manager at UHC - Ryan Strunk
Ryan lost his sight at an early age and by the time he was finished with college had no useable sight.  He has been a teacher, accessibility manager, and does improv and Crossfit in his free time.  He’s also the Minnesota Chapter President for the National Federation of the Blind.
48:39
August 09, 2020
Episode 1 - High School History Teacher - Scott
Episode 1 - High School History Teacher - Scott
Scott is a High School History teacher who lost his sight to RP.  He shares his experience of how he lost his sight over a 20 year period.  After coming to grips with his situation, he found the motivation to go back to school and get his Masters degree to ultimately become a History teacher.
45:33
August 09, 2020