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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Life with blindness

Not a lifelong tragedy

Your front-page story on the recent, traumatic blindness of Donnie Cheatham [ “In the flash of a bullet, a young man goes blind,” page one, Feb. 6] once again raises the frustrating and complex issues facing today’s at-risk youth. However, as a visually impaired person dedicated to providing services for the blind and partially sighted, I am compelled to offer some insight pertinent to the resultant aspects of the story.

It was mentioned that Cheatham is facing dependency on others for the rest of his life. But blindness in no way has to preclude Cheatham from a life of freedom and self-sufficiency. As in the familiar cellphone commercial, there is a veritable legion of compassionate experts ready to stand with Cheatham when he’s ready to learn exactly how independent, fulfilled and successful life can be despite vision loss.

Everyday, I am inspired and amazed by people who are living proof of this.

Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted, right here in Seattle, is a nonprofit agency providing ongoing services such as vision rehabilitation, counseling, training in myriad practical and life skills, assistive technology and resources for information, education and support. Most services are provided at no cost and no one is turned away due to an inability to pay.

Cheatham’s story doesn’t have to be one of lifelong tragedy.

Paradoxically, the good news is that he is young — he has the time to learn just how bright his future can be. Not everyone will need to know the great strides that have been made in vision assistance, but for people like Donnie Cheatham, he stands to be amazed.

— Joyce Shoemaker, Seattle

Comments | More in crime/justice, Health care

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