When Kiana was four years old, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sarcoidosis and, later years later, Angle-Closure Glaucoma and Uveitis. She began to lose her vision when she was 16 years old.
As a teenager, Kiana was concerned about appearances and did not accept her diagnosis. Nor would she use a cane or take advantage of the services offered to help her manage vision loss.
At age 32, she started going to Lighthouse Guild for eye exams. She saw our low vision specialists and received eyeglasses, magnifiers, and other helpful devices.
Kiana also received services from Lighthouse Guild Adaptive Technology Specialist Ed Plumacher who also has vision impairment, and Lily Harris, a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. She says, “Ed is the perfect person and the best technology instructor! Ever patient and non-judgemental, Ed advised me that someday, I could lose my vision completely. If I ever planned to go back to work, I would need to be as competitive as sighted people and proficient with the latest tools on the market.” She continues, “I was also expecting my first child and wanted to improve my parenting skills to ensure that our home would be safe. Lily came to my home and trained me to clean the kitchen, cut food safely and change my daughter’s diapers.”
In 2018, when Kiana’s vision started to decline rapidly, she needed to acquire the skills to become employable. She focused on learning technology with Ed, who upgraded the software to make her screen easier to read. At the same time, Lily returned to her home several times with tons of positive energy and patience. She helped Kiana organize her house, especially the kitchen, for optimum safety. Kiana recalls, “Lily also reminded me of all the help available to ensure my child, and I would be safe.”
Lighthouse Guild Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Jeff Ambury helped her learn to navigate. He helped her practice getting back and forth to her daughter’s school, the gym, and Lighthouse Guild. Kianna says, “He visited seven times until I got the hang of it, and I used a cane from that point on!”
Kiana also shares that she was fortunate to join a Lighthouse Guild support group for parents with vision loss led by social worker Tamara Greely. It enabled participants to pool resources and offered helpful tips and advice.
Kiana shares, “I have found everyone at Lighthouse Guild to be so incredibly patient, professional, welcoming, and warm. I have had only positive experiences with Lighthouse Guild, and they have been important to my development. I don’t know how else I could have gotten this far without their resources.”
Stepping Up to the Plate
It was Ed Plumacher who introduced blind baseball to Kiana. She says, “although I was nervous, I agreed to meet the team Ed played on called the N.Y. Rockers. They gave me a bat and explained how the game is played — and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
In 2022, she became a member of Team USA and participated in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Blind Baseball International Cup held in the Netherlands. Team USA brought home the bronze medal. Kiana shares, “Without the support, training, and encouragement I received from Lighthouse Guild, I would have never dreamt of being a member of this winning team.” She continues, “to think that until recently, I didn’t want to participate in anything that would publicly identify me as being blind . . . and now I have represented the U.S. as one of the first two women on [a blind baseball] team!”