Stories of Vision: Hayley
Imagine being a parent of a five year old little girl and being told during a routine visit to the doctor that your child would be completely blind by the time she was a teenager. This was what happened to my parents and their dreams for their vibrant, happy little girl shattered. This is where my story began, but not at all the direction it went in.
Moving to Washington
It wasn’t until moving to Washington state in 1993, that I really considered myself blind. There had been struggles with night blindness kicking in around 8th grade, difficulty reading my school work, and not being able to participate in all the sports my friends enjoyed, but I didn’t consider myself blind. At 19 years old, engaged to be married to my high school sweetheart, and about to move to the other side of the country, away from my parents for the first time, I was faced with the opportunity to attend the Orientation and Training Center as part of Washington Department of Services for the Blind. At first I did not want to go; believing the stereotypes of what it meant to be blind and in way considering myself to be that way. I soon realized that for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who got it. They understood my struggles, my fears and my desire to fight to be as independent as possible. It was there that my love of cooking began.
A Wife and Mother
Now I’m a wife, a mother of two teenagers, and the self proclaimed cool neighborhood hang out. I find myself in the kitchen more often than not. I’ve come a long way from that 19 year old girl who didn’t even know how to boil a hard boiled egg. Whether it’s the day to day blessings of fixing meals for my family, putting together something yummy for the numerous children in my garden to eat for lunch, taking over a meal to a new Mum or ill friend, preparing a potluck meal for my daughters gymnastics celebrations, or simply making something for a gathering at my house, I love the independence and creativity I feel when my apron is on and my hands are mixing a recipe.
Some of the things that have really helped me to be successful in this area are:
- Plan out weekly meals so additional trips to the grocery store aren’t needed
- Organizing like items together in my pantry: baskets or separating with wooded slats
- Labelling spices with braille and having them on a shelf alphabetically for easy retrieval
- Keeping things like cooking oil and vanilla in the refrigerator so they are easy for me to measure
- Putting things back in their original places after using them
- Keeping all my favorite recipes in a word field that my JAWS screen reader reads to me
- Using apps like Aira or be my eyes to help me label things when I bring them home from the grocery store or if I forgot to label something and now need to locate it
- Using high mark or spot and line to label my appliances
My story started with my parents getting devastating news, but my story is an amazing journey of love, triumph, seeing what a person can achieve if they persevere. Finding people around you for support and encouragement can really make all the difference, and that it sometimes means falling quite a bit before you can find the strength to pick yourself up and stand tall.
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