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Finding new life after vision loss

Bosma Enterprises - 11/20/2020 11:38:59 AM

Matt Dunn lost his vision and his job. He didn't know how he would continue. He found hope and a new career after his time at the Bosma Center for Visionary Solutions. 

An astonishing number of people who are blind or have low- vision are unemployed and face a 70% unemployment rate. Why is this number so high within the blind community? Is it due to the employer’s lack of understanding of the abilities of people who are blind? Is it the many stereotypes put on the capabilities of people who are blind? In fact, all these factors play a role in the tremendously high unemployment rate among those in the blind community. 
Seven years ago, Matt Dunn worked at FedEx until problems arose with his vision, making it difficult for Matt to perform his job. Eventually, he felt he had no other option but to quit. He found a new position at a small café, but his vision continued to worsen and again, he felt he had to quit. 
Desperate and searching for answers, Matt quickly made an appointment with his eye doctor. After his exam, his doctors discovered Matt had diabetic retinopathy. Shocked and afraid, Matt began wondering and pondering on his next steps. How was he going to work? Where would he turn for training? All of these questions floated through Matt’s mind.
Not ready to accept the diagnosis, he sought out a second opinion. Fortunately, there was hope. Doctors informed him about a surgical procedure that may save some of his vision. Without hesitation, Matt quickly jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and left him blind in his left eye and partially sighted in his right eye. “When I first lost my sight, I wanted to hide. I did not know how people were going to take it or respond,” said Matt.
Feeling lost and confused, he began contemplating his next steps. Fortunately, his mother had heard an ad about Bosma Enterprises on the radio and knew her son would benefit from their programs. Matt agreed he needed training, and they took a tour of our state-of-the-art Center for Visionary Solutions. What they experienced blew both of them away. Seeing instructors who were blind and working inspired Matt. He immediately contacted the Center to start the enrollment process.
In the meantime, Matt received his first white cane to help him avoid obstacles. “When I got the cane. I felt more confident,” he said. 

Matt immediately started using his cane to navigate up and down his street. “Probably a week later, I went downtown and started practicing, trying to remember where everything was,” he said.
Once he began his rehabilitation, he realized the cane skills he had been practicing were not very proficient. During his orientation and mobility (O&M) training, the was not aware of the many aspects of cane travel, like identifying different surfaces, knowing when to cross a street and a myriad cane techniques used to travel independently.

Once he began his rehabilitation, our O&M instructors worked with Matt to teach him proper cane techniques.
Our assistive technology instructors exposed him to adaptive technology such as screen-readers, which allows a person who is blind to operate and work on the computer. As a writer, learning about screen-readers put a smile on Matt’s face. The chance to write again and let his thoughts flow felt like he was getting a part of himself back. He loves to write fictional stories, poems and editorials on issues in society.

Working with our personal management instructor also proved beneficial and helped Matt learn to use the stove and other kitchen aids safely, but he prefers cooking with his air fryer.

Once Matt neared his graduation from the rehabilitation center, he began looking for a job. He took advantage of our customer service training to better increase his opportunity to find gainful employment.

Finally, an opening arose at Bosma Enterprises, and Matt decided to apply. He is now working in our production area and enjoys his job. “I like it a lot. I am in a place helping package exam and surgical gloves and medical kits for our veterans,” he said.

Matt has been with Bosma Enterprises for one year but has plans on taking advantage of Bosma’s upper mobility initiatives.

If you are interested in learning more about Bosma’s comprehensive-rehabilitation programs or how you can get involved and make our community a better place for everyone, visit us on the web at bosma.org/How-We-Help