Eye on Central Minnesota

Eye on Central Minnesota

By Lori Peglow

Message from the CMC President

When someone says, “I can’t do that, I’m blind,” all sorts of thoughts come to mind.  Is this person just rolling up in a ball waiting to die?  In days gone by, blind people were more limited than they are today.  That’s not true anymore.  Sighted people have said they have to do everything for blind people.  That’s not true either.

There are organizations such as “Capable Partners” in Buffalo, Minnesota that help disabled people get out and do things, such as hunting and fishing.  There is also technology to assist you in whatever you want to do.

In my situation, I was like a hermit before losing my eyesight.  Now, the new gadgets and technology have helped me be more active and out in the community more than ever.  I enjoy technology such as computers with JAWS and textbooks on digital files.  And, the new cell phones have full keyboards, making it easier to text.  In the past 20 years, technology has become better and we have more of it, which makes life easier.

Several weeks ago, I was using a nail gun.  Someone asked me what a blind man was doing using a nail gun.  Why not a blind man using a nail gun?  There are safety features on the gun and all you need to do is feel where you want to shoot the nail.  Just because I accidently shot myself in the hand doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not going to stop me.  The same thing happens to sighted people and they didn’t stop using a nail gun.  Life is too short and there is a lot in the world to experience.  If you have something you want to do or have dreamed of doing, do it!  Don’t let your lack of vision stop you.

Meet the Members

All of us know how life can change in a split second.  That’s what happened to Becky Chiado.  On July 14, 2008, Becky was attending day classes at St. Cloud State, working on her master’s degree in Special Education.  Her three boys were staying at her parents' house that day.  She came over for supper and decided she needed to ride her horse and relax.  Fifteen minutes later, her saddle had slipped and she fell, hitting her head on the hard dirt road.  She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.  She wasn’t expected to survive the night.  Several days later the doctors performed bone-flap surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain.  Becky came out of the surgery with cortical blindness, where her brain misinterprets what the eyes are seeing.  Often she had no vision, sometimes her vision is blurry and sometimes she’s looking at an object and her brain tells her it’s something else. 

Becky spent eighteen months in hospitals and nursing homes and had multiple surgeries on her head.  She also suffers from short-term memory loss and has limited use of her left hand due to a stroke.  Becky lived with her parents and three boys for four years.  However, recent surgeries left her with some medical complications so she now lives in a group home.

While going to college, Becky worked as a Personal Care Attendant in various group homes, and as a paraprofessional in the Rocori School District.  She now works at ProWorks.  Becky joined the Central Minnesota Chapter of the NFB in March of 2012.  The members of the chapter have been helpful in sharing about assistive technologies available to help blind people.  Becky loves to read, so books on CD, the talking book radio, and the books and player from the National Library Service have been helpful as well.  She also uses a talking watch and, because of her short-term memory loss, a small hand-held recorder to remember what day it is and her schedule for the day.

Before her accident, Becky led a Bible study for single moms at River of Life Church.  Her former husband, the boys’ father, committed suicide the week of 9/11.  She and her boys also survived a house fire in the cities and a move from living in the cities to a small town.  But it was a good move for them.

Because of all the surgeries, infections and complications, Becky’s advice for people is never give up.  Stay strong, and trust God.  He’ll bring you through whatever comes along.  She is also now a strong advocate for wearing helmets when riding bikes, horses or motorcycles.