Blog Posts by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

The Bookshelf: Review of "Follow Your Dog" by Ann Chiappetta

Book Presents View of Difficulties of Growing Up with Low Vision Ann Chiappetta’s second book entitled "Follow Your Dog, A Story of Love and Trust," is a memoir about growing up with low vision and how becoming a guide dog handler changed her life. Ann took me on a journey through her world as she reflected on the loneliness of growing up visually impaired but not blind. There are passages that touch the heart describing her struggles with declining vision. I felt her pain at not measuring up to some nonexistent super blind person who does it all right with grace and aplomb. I wanted to hug her for her


A Tribute to Veterans with Disabilities

Editor's note: November 11 is Veterans Day, and VisionAware is honoring those who have served us with this special tribute from VisionAware Peer Advisor DeAnna Noriega. For further information, VisionAware has an entire section devoted to Veterans including services, resources, and personal


Being Invisible

Editor's Note: Today's post by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is from the new series on disability. This personal story highlights the stigmas, stereotypes, marginalization, and lowered expectations people with disabilities are exposed to everyday. Read DeAnna's story and poem about how the attitudes of others have made her feel invisible and how she has chosen to make her life so much more than a stereotype. Being Invisible by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega When you are blind or visually impaired, it is easy to feel invisible. Many things are invisible to you: a stain on your favorite shirt, a dropped object that has skittered across the floor, the expression on a person’s face, or the number of gray hairs among those on your own head. Sometimes, you can begin to feel


Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs

I wrote this poem while walking 16 blocks with my sixth guide dog to a dental appointment. I am sharing it to honor my nine guide dogs on April 26th, International Guide Dog Day! Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs We are cloud dancers, You lead and I follow. Our steps synchronized Our bodies swaying to the same rhythm. Swept along in the current of the jet stream. Floating lightly on the swell of an updraft, Swooping into a glide down the slope of a


Guide Dog or White Cane? Mobility Tools for Individuals with Vision Loss

Editor's note: February is low vision awareness month, and we are highlighting the importance of being safe when walking around, even in a known area. VisionAware peer advisor, DeAnna Noriega, gives sound advice about what you should think about when making a decision about a dog or cane. Questions to Consider If you have low vision, your lack of depth perception may make it hard to judge changes in the elevation of the ground where you are walking. Other questions to consider: Do you have trouble adjusting to differences in lighting when you go outside or come into a building? Are blind spots in


Creating a Poetic Outlook from Your Inner Viewpoint

Edited by Maribel Steel When we need an outlet to express our inner thoughts, especially when facing a life challenge like living with low vision, why not let your thoughts flow onto a page in the form of poetry? “It isn’t about rhyming, meter, or number of syllables,” says DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, “Really, anyone can write poetry.” Usually, when poets create poetry, there is a two-fold passion at play; they want to capture their feelings by observing their rich inner thoughts and hope their reflections truly touch the hearts and minds of a reader. Writing poetry, however, is completely up to


The 1Touch Project™: Personal Safety for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's note: With this post, VisionAware is rolling out a new series on "Dealing with Crime or Domestic Violence As a Person with a Disability." In this series, you will find articles on the disturbing statistics on crimes against people with disabilities, information and resources on domestic abuse, and personal stories that two peer advisors have written about their own experiences. We are also offering information on self-defense techniques that have been adapted or developed for people with vision loss, including the 1Touch


The Perfect Guide Dog

Often as I go about my business accompanied by my guide dog, people remark on his beauty, good manners, and say things like, I wish my dog was as well behaved as yours. They don’t seem to understand that a lot of work on the part of a puppy raiser, a guide dog instructor, and yes, me too, goes into creating the picture perfect dog at my side. He has the same instincts and impulses as the pet they have at home, but he understands that when in harness, he must focus on the job for which he was trained. However, he is first and foremost a dog. He has been bred for intelligence and carefully raised


How Independent Do You Want to Be?

Editor's note: Just in time for Independence Day, peer advisor DeAnna Noriega writes about independence and the full range of options you have as a person with visual impairment. You may also want to go back and read the first of our series on independence with a post by peer advisor Audrey Demmitt, RN, Independence versus Interdependence. Do you handle your own finances? Do you arrange your own


Motherhood with Vision Loss

Editor's note: This post is the first in a short series on Mother's Day. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow. My First Child Was Born When I Was a Peace Corps Volunteer My eldest daughter was born near the end of my tour of duty as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa. Due to a tragic mistake at the hospital in country just before my daughter's birth, a healthy new born baby boy had died. Thus, the country Peace Corps director insisted that all three of the pregnant Peace Corps volunteers be sent eighty miles to give birth at the L.B.J. Tropical Medical Center in Pagopago American Samoa. The wife of the village chief where


What Is Survival Braille?

People Think Braille Is Not Useful In this age of digital talking books, computers fitted with screen reader software, audio labeling systems like the Pen Friend, some believe that learning braille is no longer necessary for people with vision loss. It's true that we have reached an age when more access to printed material is available than ever before. Senior


Teaching Courage on International Day for People with a Disability

Editor's note: What can we write using the letters of the word "ABILITY" on this special day celebrating our talents and skills on International Day of Persons with Disabilities? The answer is two posts! This is the second post in the series offering encouragement to focus on how we help teach courage by being our capable-selves. Be sure to read the first post, A is for Ability, by Mary Hiland.


When Your Visual Impairment Isn't Visible

The Temptation to Pretend We Don't Have a Disability In honor of Invisible Disabilities Week, which falls from October 18 through October 24, I decided I would share a few thoughts about the temptation to pretend we don’t have a disability. What Is An Invisible Disability? According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, "the term invisible disabilities refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to


My Emergency Preparedness Bag

Planning Ahead When Visually Impaired One of the complications we experience as people who are visually impaired is that we have to do a lot of planning ahead. Gone are the days when we could impulsively meet a friend for lunch, run out to pick up that missing ingredient we need for dinner etc. When you have to figure out the logistics of getting where you want to go and how you will get there in advance, it means being organized and creative. This extends to making plans for emergencies. Having a network of support is important. During a city wide


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part Three

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part Three of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Be sure to read Part One and Part Two. Olsen--Getting


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part Two

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part Two of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Be sure to read Part One. Irish: Make Time to Smell the Roses Irish was my smallest black lab. She weighed in at about sixty pounds. While walking through town on a quiet Sunday, I paused at an intersection with Irish and my five year-old daughter Kassia. Since no traffic was moving at all, I instructed "Irish,


Lessons My Dog Guides Have Taught Me: Part One

Editor's Note: We continue to celebrate National Service Dog Guide Month. This post is Part One of Deanna's tribute to her nine dog guides and the lessons they have taught her. Author's note: I am currently working with my ninth dog guide from The Seeing Eye Inc. Each of my lovely dogs has taught me lessons I could apply to other aspects of my life. Excuse me if I have gotten carried away writing about my journey through the world


How Poetry Helps Me Move On As a Blind Person

Editor's note: April is National Poetry Month. In honor of this month, Deanna Noriega has shared some of her poetry and encourages you to take part in the Library of Congress webinars on poetry starting April 1. Writing My Way Through the Tough Times Writing is a way to get through the tough times and also a way to think through a problem or even capture the joy of a moment. I wrote my poem "Dancers" in my head while walking sixteen blocks with my dog guide to a dental appointment! The joy of walking with Griffin made that walk a celebration of freedom and a shared celebration of our teamwork. Whether I am


When You’re Nobody’s Valentine

Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of winter when many people struggle against winter blues or depression. It can be especially hard to cope when everyone around you is being presented with flowers, cards candy or a special dinner out by a significant other. What can you do to get through the feelings of disconnection and loneliness that being nobody’s Valentine can bring? What is love anyway? We have all heard people exclaim: I just love purple; I love cats! I love lasagna; I adore hats! When people say they love…. They generally mean that the thing they are talking about makes them feel really good. However, love can cause pain; can make you sad, angry, or frustrated when it isn’t


Thanksgiving and My Membership in the Sandwich Generation

As we enter the Thanksgiving season, this post about family caregiving and family values and traditions is particularly relevant. This post is also part of our Sandwich Generation Series. Three Generations in the Home As in most family interactions, there are more smiles than teeth grindings in being a grandparent who is called upon to help raise their grandchildren. This is especially true for a


Teddy's Most Terrible Awful Day

This week we mourn the passing of Robin Williams, who shared his extraordinary gift of humor with the world for many, many years in spite of his battle with depression. He taught us that laughter can be our best medicine. Teddy’s Most Terrible Awful Day by Peer Advisor DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega Many factors go into the matching process when a blind person and a


Memorial Day and the Chance to Serve: Is the Peace Corps for You?

Tribute to Veterans Who Experienced Vision Loss Many visually impaired people have experienced vision loss as a result of injuries sustained during their time of service. Other veterans have developed conditions that affected their vision as they aged. As we celebrate the Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have served this great nation and VisionAware offers a great tribute to our Veterans in a special section. How Can You Serve Your Country I am a master sergeant’s daughter and almost every branch of military service is represented in my


Giving Up Your Car Keys When You Have Vision Loss and How That Affects Where You Live

by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega Fair Housing Month April is Fair Housing Month. And I thought this might be a good time to consider vision loss and housing choices. Considering Where To Live When You are Visually Impaired One of the things that a person with vision loss has to consider is where to live. When you reach the point that driving is no longer an option, getting where you need to go


Adapting to Changes In Our Lives As We Grow Older with Vision Loss

Editor's Note: In honor of National Senior Independence Month, Peer Advisor Deanna Noriega has written this poignant reflection on growing older and learning to do things a little differently. Reflecting on Changes that Being a "Golden Girl" May Bring As I look forward to my 66th birthday, I have been reflecting on the changes being a "golden girl" might make in my life. At my feet lies my 8th dog guide, a sweet, funny, little Chocolate Labrador with a light pull and a timid but willing heart. He is a lot


Dog Guide Airs Views about the Holidays

Editor’s note: Gentry, a black Labrador retriever, shares his views and advice on how to help your dog guide have a happy holiday. His owner and peer advisor, DeAnna Noriega provided editorial assistance. Gentry’s View on Christmas Christmas is such a confusing time, all the everyday rules seem to change. A tree is not for the kitty cat to climb, or where to leave your markit's strange. Master covers it up with lights on a cord, in which it is easy to tangle your paws. But woe to the dog who breaks any laws. Don't chase the kitty cat up


Traveling This Holiday Season with Your Dog Guide? Here Are Some Things to Consider

Editor's Note: This list of guidelines and suggestions for passengers who are blind or visually impaired was compiled with a great deal of input from other travelers including Jay Stitely and Crista Earl. Be Aware of Multiple Regulations First, there are several sets of laws that you need to know about when traveling. As passengers pass through an airport they are uniquely governed. The building of an airport is under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) laws. Security is under the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or Homeland Security regulations. Once a passenger arrives on the airplane then travel is


Packing for Holiday Travel

Editor's Note: The peer advisors can't get enough of sharing their tips and advice on travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired. Last week Sue Bramhall shared her travel tips from the perspective of a business owner of a travel tour company. This time DeAnna Quietwater Noriega shares hers but with a focus on dressing for travel, packing your suitcase and traveling with a dog guide. Packing and Identifying Your


Common Sense Solutions to Managing Diabetes and Visual Impairment

Diabetes can cause many health issues including vision loss. Here are some practical suggestions I have come up with over the years for managing your diabetes. You can find out much more in the diabetes management section. Eat Healthy In planning meals, remember that each portion of carbs represents one carb choice or 15 grams of carbohydrate. Most women can have 3-4 carb choices per meal and most men can have 4-5.


Bar Codes, Stickers and Labels

Importance of a Title November is National American Indian Heritage Month. You are probably wondering what this has to do with the title of this article. I am of native American descent. My great grandmother chose Quietwater as my true name. This is not the one that appears on legal documents or government records, but the name that tells others who I am as a person. When my children were small, they were given true names at family ceremonies. My great grandmother named my eldest daughter. My mother named my younger daughter. I chose the names


Thoughts on Preparing for Employment

Editors Note: Today marks the beginning of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Peer Advisor Deanna Noriega wrote this post to bring attention to the importance of employment in her life and to demonstrate how persons who are blind or visually impaired can prepare themselves for employment. Deanna: At age 14, I was the eldest child in a family of five children. Money was tight, and we were all expected to pitch in around the house. I wanted to be able to save money for things I would need for college, buy the occasional treat like a record by my favorite musical group or new dress. I had lost my vision at


Looking Good Without a Mirror

One of the funny things about living with vision loss is that we often get stuck with a picture of ourselves that dates from the time of our vision loss. I was 8 years old at the time. At sixty-four, I know that I am no longer a pint-sized little girl with long dark chestnut braids, a baby face, and a snub nose. The ruffles my mama used to enjoy dressing me in are probably not current fashion either. Planning Your Wardrobe Women who are visually impaired need a plan to take into account current trends in fashion and what they have learned about their appearance. They need to be realistic when buying. Is the item easy care?


Confessions of a Reluctant Technology User

I was born in the generation who left for college lugging a reel-to-reel tape recorder, Perkins Brailler, and a manual typewriter. As an aging Baby Boomer, I find myself trying to figure out how to use equipment never dreamed of when I got my first job. Most of it is expensive and there are few opportunities to get hands on instruction before purchasing. Attending a national conference or technology conference is one way, but time is limited and vendors are often too busy to spend time with you on the use of the device. They are eager to sell the item and too busy to provide training. We live in an age when new methods for


My Mother, the Wind Beneath My Wings

Editorial note: This post marks the initial post for our new Peer Perspectives on Vision Loss Blog. In honor of Mother's Day, Peer Advisor DeAnna Quietwater shares this tribute to her mother. My mother was seventeen when I was born. I was the first of her five children. Six months after my birth, I was diagnosed as having congenital glaucoma. The prognosis was not good. My mother was told that I would probably be totally blind by age ten. Back then, many of the surgical techniques which are used successfully today, did not exist. The primary treatment was a course of drugs administered in eye drops to


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