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Continuing Her Passion after vision loss

Bosma Enterprises - 9/18/2020 10:37:04 AM

Justine Horlander found she can continue her passion of art after her time at the Bosma Center for Visionary Solutions. 

When Justine Horlander was in grade school, her parents noticed that she struggled to make out the words on the chalkboard and decided to take her for an eye exam. The examination revealed Justine was nearsighted, and she needed glasses to correct her vision.

Justine's vision remained steady for years, but as an adult, she discovered she was living with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is a degenerating eye disease that eventually causes a person to go blind. Despite the diagnosis, Justine's vision remained steady. She was able to continue driving and doing her day-to-day tasks, eventually enrolling at Heron School of Art at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). She majored in graphic design, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, focusing on watercolor paintings. 

Justine loves to paint and is very talented. "I use a special layering technique that gives my paintings a more realistic look, and makes them pop," she said about her art.
Justine’s favorite painting is her Dali style painting of a bright pink flower. Although this style is time-consuming, Justine does not mind; painting is her passion. While she still can identify the colors in her paintings, unfortunately, Justine's vision is worsening. Justine decided to reach out to Bosma Enterprises' Center for Visionary Solutions for the Blind to find help.

As an Indianapolis resident, Justine was familiar with Bosma Enterprises and the services we provide to people experiencing vision loss. She began to take the proper steps to enroll in our comprehensive rehabilitation program to obtain the necessary training needed to live independently. 

Justine was just three weeks into her rehabilitation training when the COVID-19 pandemic caused our in-person programs to cease. Despite the closing of our Center, Justine still called in every day to participate in our assistive technology meetings. She enjoyed the different breakout sessions offered through our resource lines. "You can choose what is best for you," said Justine. 

Justine is very appreciative of our assistive technology instructors Brian and Mendi, to assist her and answer any of her assistive technology questions. With the assistance she has received, Justine has a better grasp of adaptive technology like Job Access with Speech (JAWS), a screen-reading software that converts text to speech. Allowing a person who is blind to navigate the web and access other Microsoft applications. With the help of JAWS, Justine is able to use a function in JAWS called Picture Smart. With Picture Smart, you can choose an image on your computer and submit it over the internet to be analyzed. A description of the image is then displayed in the JAWS Results Viewer window. Justine is now using Picture Smart to view digital images of her paintings. 

Despite having access to our resource and assistive technology lines, Justine was ready to get back to our rehabilitation center and interact with others in the program. She is now back and is working towards finishing grade one Braille. Currently, Justine is learning how to write and identify the letter U and hopes to complete the alphabet before her graduation date on September 18.

Justine's cane skills have improved tremendously since being back in the center. She is now traveling with more confidence and has even been able to travel to her local grocery store and shop with poise. Her next goal is to walk her neighborhood independently, and with the help of our orientation and mobility instructors, she is almost there.

Personal management has also proven to be beneficial for Justine. Having had the opportunity to use sharp knives to slice and dice vegetables and most recently cooked up a tasty batch of zucchini bread where she could use ‘Ove’ Gloves to remove hot pans from the oven, thus protecting her from burns.

Justine is thankful for Bosma's program staff and appreciates all of their hard work during these challenging times. She is optimistic about her future and plans on creating even more beautiful watercolor paintings. To look at some of Justine's watercolor paintings, visit her website https://justinehorlander.wixsite.com/justineshiroka
If you like what you see, email her to purchase her work at justine.horlander@gmail.com
 
If you or someone you know is experiencing vision loss and in need of our services, please contact us on the web at www.bosma.org or give us a call at 888.567.3422. 
We can help put you back on a path of independence.