Seventy-Five and Going Strong: Reflections on The Outlook from Here

By Denise Jess

Wow, this is the 75th post of The Outlook from Here, what an honor to be invited to author it!

In the 74 posts that have come before, I’ve connected with each writer’s personal experience of blindness, low or changing vision, finding a piece of myself in every story.  It’s one of the many reasons that as the CEO/Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired and as a person with a lifelong vision impairment, I’m so proud that we can partner with this group of dedicated volunteer writers and editors to host The Outlook from Here blog.

The life experiences, world views and subjects represented on the blog are beautifully diverse. Each writer brings a unique expression of what it means to live with vision impairment, whether as a young child, adolescent or adult; responding to one’s own feelings, dealing with others’ perceptions, managing society’s physical and attitudinal barriers or finding support and caring in unexpected places.  This mix of voices speaks to the diversity that exists among those of us who live with visual impairment.  Our diverse, yet shared experiences have the power to bring together people from different corners of life, who might not otherwise have reason or choose to interact with each other.  What a tremendous gift for readers to know they aren’t alone in their experience of vision impairment.

It’s my belief that The Outlook from Here is also an important service for our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors in the sighted world.  A question that many people have asked me over the years boils down to “what is it like to be you?”  Through the honest and candid narratives, blog authors have shared their experiences and feelings in ways that are relatable.  While some of our experiences may differ from those of our sighted peers, many are the same – hopes for our futures, anxieties about life transitions, fears about how others perceive us, ideas about how we can make a difference in our world.  What power there is in finding the interconnectedness and human-ness that lives between each of us for breaking down misconceptions and fears.

It’s important to note that The Outlook from Here is a collaboration among the volunteer writers and a partnership with Council staff, which attributes to its success and sustainability.  The blog was the spark of an idea brought to life by Annika Konrad, who continues to play a vital role in guiding the process from story idea to publication.  As The Outlook from Here continues to thrive, we invite you to consider adding your unique voice to the mix, whether for a single story or others to follow.  If the first 75 posts laid a foundation for important dialogue about the real lived experiences of blindness and vision impairment, I’m so excited to see where the journey leads us in the next 75 stories.

Denise Jess is the CEO/Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.  Before joining the Council’s staff in July, she had the honor to serve as a volunteer writer with The Outlook from Here, as well serving on the Council’s Board of Directors.

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