Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My First Visit to MCIL

MCIL is a unique environment with great people

By Douglass Hall
My name is Douglass Hall and I am going into my tenth year of being diagnosed as legally blind. At age 60, needless to say the last ten years has been nothing short of a real game changer. I was forced to leave a job and profession that I truly loved – Information Technology.

For my first eighteen months I wandered aimlessly stuck between denial and anger with the world. By happenstance I was at the Southern College of Optometry for an eye examination and was told about an agency located nearby that offered braille training. I decided why not go and check them out since I was already in the neighborhood.

My first visit was very memorable and continues to be one of my laughable moments since I started this journey. I entered the Memphis Center for Independent Living and a gentleman was sitting behind the front reception desk. I must have been standing there right in front of him for a good 45 seconds. He did not acknowledge me, yet answered the phone several times with me standing there in front of him. 

Underneath my breath I mused “what in the heck kind of organization is this? Was this the kind of service and respect I was going to face from here on out?”

Just as I was getting ready to let go with the massive attitude, someone else came in and the gentleman behind the desk asked: ”Can I help you?” Looking him directly in the face it became immediately obvious that he was responding to the sound of the automatic door opening. Boy, did I ever feel stupid, I then realized he was blind and could not see me.

Also, in that very same visit I had the opportunity to meet a very special person named Christina, an Independent Living Specialist.  I was impressed with her sense of personal connection. She was very friendly and helpful. Not by words, but example she has inspired me to re-think my attitude about what it means to live with blindness. She is an ocean of information, always willing to share her knowledge with others, and give the best example of what it means to be an advocate. 
Thanks to her and many others I have been able to start my own assistive technology training company with the dream of hiring as many blind persons as possible.