Amanda has Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye disease that affects the retina in some premature babies born before 31 weeks. With ROP, unwanted blood vessels grow on the baby’s retina. These blood vessels can later cause serious eye and vision problems, such as detached retinas, secondary glaucoma, and cataracts.

From approximately 2016-18, Amanda had several retinal detachments in her dominant eye. Due to an excellent surgeon, she lost minimal vision in her peripheral sight. Amanda has low vision and uses a cane to navigate around, primarily for drop-offs, stairs, street crossings, uneven surfaces, and identification. She uses public transit to get around New York City and sometimes uses Access-A-Ride.

Amanda came to Lighthouse Guild in 2002 when she was connected via the New York Commission for the Blind’s Columbia Youth Program. During that time, she received computer, mobility, and enrichment training.

In 2013, immediately following graduate school, Amanda worked for one year as a teacher’s assistant and 1:1 Paraprofessional for Lighthouse Guild’s preschool program.

In 2016 Amanda reconnected with Adaptive Technology Specialist Ed Plumacher for training in assistive technology and work accessibility. Ed taught her techniques for using the iPhone, VoiceOver, Zoom, and Zoom features, key commands, JAWS, and how to go back and forth between platforms when using her PC and Mac. She says, “Ed is an amazing teacher who is truly knowledgeable, personable, and very individualized to each student, and he stays updated on the recent technologies available to people who have vision loss.”

I am grateful for what Lighthouse Guild has provided to me, helping me succeed with my career and in life.

Amanda, Client

In 2021 Amanda reconnected with Lighthouse Guild working under Coordinator of Youth Programs Jaydan Mitchell and the Volunteer Program as an orientation and mobility intern with the Saturday Youth Transitions Program. It was this internship that qualified her certification in orientation and mobility. Amanda says being a part of the Lighthouse Guild Volunteer Program, specifically interviewing with Volunteer Administrator Renita Carter and through her, Jaydan Mitchell, was instrumental in helping her with her orientation and mobility certification hours. “I am so grateful they brought me on and were willing to have me as a volunteer and allow me to work with the students in such capacity for my internship.”

As of October 2022, Amanda works at Lighthouse Guild with Jaydan and the Manager of Career and Youth Services, Marsha Shaw, as a lead teacher in the Saturday Youth Skills Program. Amanda primarily assists the clients with movement, orientation and mobility, literacy, and self-expression. She says, “Jaydan is wonderful, personable, and very passionate about his work, and always thinking about how best to support the students. He’s always full of ideas and takes others’ ideas into consideration. He figures out ways that he can incorporate their ideas into the next session of classes. He figures out ways how to make things better. He is always thinking about how he can support the students by developing innovative ideas to strengthen the program.”

Taking a Swing and Winning a Bronze
When interning with Lighthouse Guild, Amanda met with Ed Plumacher and members of a local Adaptive Blind Baseball team, NY Rockers, at a hands-on clinic about the sport for the teens in our Youth Transition Program. From that first outing, Ed encouraged Amanda to consider trying out for the team. With his encouragement, Amanda attended tryouts in the Bronx. She was fortunate and honored to be selected to be on Team USA. The next thing she knew, August arrived. Team USA was on its way to the Netherlands to compete in the first WBSC Blind Baseball International Cup. Amanda shares, “It felt a little like a whirlwind because it all happened so fast, and there was so much to take in and so much to do. And it was wonderful. It was beautiful.”

Amanda says the game day was intense and that they could not have done it without any of the team members or coaches. Everyone was amazing, and the experience was very humbling. She is honored to have been a part of the team. Amanda says, “A special thanks is owed to Lighthouse Guild for the sponsorship. Team USA in the Netherlands would not have been possible without the Lighthouse Guild. The team cannot thank Lighthouse Guild enough for its generosity and belief in Team USA.” As a result, Team USA brought home a Bronze Medal!

Recommending Lighthouse Guild to Others
Amanda shares that Lighthouse Guild can provide the resources that students and clients need to help get a foot in the door of being more independent and increase job opportunities. This includes helping to provide materials, different devices, or different people to contact during a job search for someone to be successful in the workforce. Lighthouse Guild can offer Orientation & Mobility (O&M) if they need help learning how to get around in a new space that can be complex. They can also assist them with Vision Rehabilitation skills in the home, such as cooking and daily skills.

“I am grateful for all that Lighthouse Guild provided me with and gave me the opportunities to succeed in terms of both my life and my career,” Amanda says. “I am very humbled and grateful to them, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Amanda says she is quite happy that Lighthouse Guild offers the programs it does and that Lighthouse Guild’s low vision program provides students and clients with opportunities to become more independent in various ways, whether it’s technology, orientation and mobility, or giving younger students and teenagers the opportunities to be connected with each other to prevent them from feeling so alone at certain times.

“You learn to become independent and learn that you can do most of the things that others can do, but you just must do them in a different way,” Amanda says. “People can do it. They just have to be given the opportunity to do so, and if they don’t know how, Lighthouse Guild can help them learn.”

Amanda says, “I am grateful for what Lighthouse Guild has provided to me, helping me succeed with my career and in life.”

Amanda also works as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and an Orientation & Mobility Specialist for a private school in middle Manhattan.

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