Sheila Rousey, MA

Dealing with Blindness from Childhood

woman seated on floor with arm around dog guide

Learning and sharing are truly lifelong passions of mine. Having been born in the late 1950s, my mother and father were unaware of the severe nature of my eye condition. I later discovered that I have a rare disorder known as Marfan syndrome which accounts for defects in the connective tissue of the body. In my particular situation, I was born with cataracts and somewhat smaller eyes. After the removal of the cataracts, I developed glaucoma and later retinal detachments.

Attended Public School

Along with my sisters, I attended our local public school with no accommodations for my vision loss. This was likely due to either a lack of information or a general indifference to specialized education services within the public school setting. My early educational experience was very challenging and, while this made for a difficult life as a child, I learned the importance of self-advocacy. I realized very early on that identifying the issue, networking, and creating partnerships were the essential steps to reaching solutions and setting goals.

Pursuing Career in Public Education

I have taken those life lessons with me as I have met the challenges of being blind and pursuing my goals throughout life. I first obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. Then I went on for my graduate degree. With a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Clemson University, I have provided Inter-related Special Education Instruction in the public school setting, provided Parent Advisor support for Georgia Parent Infant Network of Educational Services (PINES), as well as provide instruction at the college level for students requiring assistance with developmental studies in preparation for more advanced college level work.

Mastered Certifications in Assistive Technologies to Help Others

My interest in adaptive technologies has afforded me the opportunity to study and gain certification with COMP-TIA A+ as well as JAWS. My love of braille and the importance of Braille literacy has challenged me to obtain the National Library Services, Washington, D.C. certification in Literary Braille transcription. I have taken those newly learned skills and provided braille instruction to senior adults with vision loss, in order to provide them with the skills they desire in order to remain as independent as they choose. I am active in civic organizations such as the LIONS club and Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind. I provide adaptive technology instruction for either individuals or groups for the sheer joy of seeing students realize that they have access to the world of technology and various other resources. Learning is truly a life long journey, and the remarkable people that one meets on the way, make the journey ever so invaluable.

Be sure to read more about Sheila's personal story.

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