My Journey

by Michelle Clark

There is an old hymn that begins with “Time is filled with swift transition”. Twelve years ago, I thought that would be me in the journey toward what became complete vision loss.  However, it took almost two years for me to completely lose vision and me as many others suffered through the slow loss. When it became apparent I would lose sight, I settled in my mind I would be alright. After 26 years working for a telecommunications company, I was within the appropriate age to retire and have a pension at the age of 50. I reasoned I could remain at home and listen to the television and books on line but that became old very fast.

After being coaxed out to a meeting of a local blindness group, I found I could get training to help with household things so I spent time at the Work Force Technology Center (WTC). While there, I met the then President of the PG County/NFBMD and I began to attend meetings. At my first meeting, I learned I could do my own food shopping. What! Say that again! Shopping!  Huh? Oh my! Since I still had a little vision, I could write my list and present it at the store.  There is para-transit in my area so I was able to get there. However, no one told me I needed to figure out what items I had purchased when I got home. So…I spent the usual confusion opening the wrong cans while trying to be independent. Several meetings of the PG NFB caused me to  get stung  and be infected by the old “NFB Bug” and have been involved ever since.

Subsequently, I attended a residential training center and learned many skills. Additional classes added to my knowledge. One day, it occurred to me “you are too young not to be working” as I intended to work until at least mid-60’s. I had learned to use the computer non-visually, Braille, travel, and many other independent living skills. Why sit at home? So I began the journey toward returning to work.

I was able to obtain a contract position at a Federal Agency as a Help Desk Analyst. Five months later, due to my many visits to Federal Job Fairs, I was contacted by USDA and offered a Federal position. Today, I am an Information Technology Specialist and the Section 508 Coordinator for