Braille Monitor                                                    July 2008

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Brief Biography of a Federationist

by Everette Bacon

From the Editor: Everyone has a story, and that tale may be the inspiration that someone else can draw strength and inspiration from. I donít know why Everette Bacon sent this sketch of himself to Ron Gardner last winter. Ron is president of the NFB of Utah. He recognized the potential these few paragraphs might have to inspire others, so he sent the email on to me. Now meet Everette Bacon. He did not have early training in the skills of blindness. His parents did not receive good advice about how to raise a blind son. Yet he is living a full and productive life and is clearly passing along what he has learned so that he can help others. This is what he wrote:

My name is Everette Bacon. I was born July 2, 1970. I grew up in Southern California before moving to Texas after I graduated from high school. I was born with what the doctors thought at the time was retinitis pigmentosa. It was hereditary on my mother's side of the family. Five of us were blind. I was the only boy, and for some reason I had better vision than the others.

For a long time I was told that I could pretend away my blindness because I had so much useable vision that there was a good chance I would not lose vision like the other family members. I went through high school looking down on other blind kids and never associating with them because I knew I was different. I was told I'd never need Braille or a cane, so for many years I didn't use one. Not until I entered college did I realize I was losing vision and that my life would probably have to change. I made it through college still holding onto the false hope that I was different. I met my wife in college and married her right after graduation. She was the first person to convince me that I needed to carry a cane. My family always believed the doctors when they said that I did not need one. I didn't have any training with the cane, but as I began using it, I felt more confident walking by myself in downtown Dallas and Houston.

We moved to Salt Lake City in 2004, and I met Nick Schmittroth, Ray Martin, Bill Gibson, Karl Smith, and Ron and Norm Gardner. These male role models, all blind and all carrying canes, changed my life. These were the kind of men I wanted to become, and they helped mold me into the Federationist I am today. I now work for the state vocational agency serving blind people as the assistive technology specialist. I have earned certification and a masterís degree in rehabilitation teaching. Fellow Federationists, I am living proof that you can do it.

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