If you stop and think about just how dependent we are on sight, chances are you will have a new respect for the blind population.
Cathy Miller of Lake Charles could once see, but has been forced to learn to navigate through a new world, without the use of her eyes.
If you watch Cathy in action, her independence might make you think she is not blind, but ask her what her world looks like, and there is not a whole lot that she can actually make out. "Bright sunlight shining on the back of the couch," she said, "I see what I believe is a silhouette of you against the window."
Cathy gradually began losing her sight in childhood, but a diagnosis did not come until she was 18. "Retinal Dispigmentosis and it was devastating," she said.
Cathy says losing her vision was an unpreventable tragedy, but something that can be prevented is a lack of respect from the sighted public. "People are naturally sometimes afraid of what they don't understand and they don't want to do the wrong thing, so they just stay away," she said.
Cathy has found comradery with other blind people in the lake area through the local chapter of the American Federation for the Blind. "To know other people who are going through the same thing and have gone through the same thing," Cathy said, "is moving."
A passion of Cathy's is to dispel myths about the blind, showing that they can be incorporated into the workforce and everyday living with a little understanding. "Blind people these days are very, very independent if they have the training and opportunities to become independent," said Cathy.
And if you spend any time with Cathy, she will show you that a joy-filled life is not connected to sight, but is interwoven with showing care for others - in spite of seen or unseen differences. "We're people and get to know us, come visit us at our local chapter meeting and find out what we do and what we're about," she said.
There are local resources to help visually impaired people, from learning to read Braille to training on getting around town without sight. Fore more information, call Cathy Miller at 337-479-1912. You can also attend the next meeting with the Lake Area Chapter of the American Federation for the Blind. It is every fourth Tuesday at First Christian Church in Lake Charles at 7:00 p.m.