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Hope and Empowerment for the Visually Impaired

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Tools in Your Toolbox

Angie Robinson

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Angie Robinson has a true passion for helping and advocating for others. She has dedicated most of her life to doing just that. Whether it has been as an active member of the blind community, teaching Braille to youth in her hometown, or marching on Washington, D.C., Angie has done it all to make a difference in the lives of others.

Angie was born with albinism, a condition where there is little or no production of the pigment melanin. Melanin also plays a key role in the development of optic nerves. Those with albinism, like Angie, are born legally blind and experience varying degrees of visual impairments. While Angie has been legally blind since birth, she has never allowed it to hold her back. She has set and conquered goals in her life when others doubted her.

Born in Italy and raised in Buffalo, New York, Angie learned at an early age that life isn’t always easy but with enough effort, education and a little love from others, anything is possible. She credits her parents for supporting and raising her to work hard and to stand up for what is right. It is this notion of doing right that has been Angie’s battle cry for most of her adult life. She is a member of the National Federation of the Blind and has, on many occasions, met and worked with state and federal legislators to discuss policies centered around the blind and visually impaired. She advocated for passing of the Blind Persons Right to Parent Act. “Just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you can’t parent,” she says. “We can do anything the sighted world can do, just maybe a little different.” Angie also worked with local engineers and city planners in Buffalo to reconstruct safer sidewalks and crossways for the visually impaired.

Her advocacy begins with the youngest of the blind community. “I believe Braille literacy,” Angie shares “to be very important.” She believed in this statement so much that for several years she advocated in our nation’s capital to get laws passed so that blind children would learn Braille at the same time as their sighted classmates were learning traditional reading and writing skills. “We now have smartphones that can assist, but just as the sighted need to know how to read and write traditional script, blind children need to be taught to read Braille.” She adds, “What if your smartphone doesn’t work? Children still need Braille in their toolbox.”

After speaking with Angie, it’s clear she believes in having the right training to be setup for success. Angie relocated to Sarasota from Buffalo about a year ago and realized that she too needed to add some new ‘tools.’ She’s taken some of her own advice and began working with Lighthouse instructors to brush-up on Orientation and Mobility training. Since moving to Florida Angie discovered, as she put it, “many of the plazas and intersections appear very similar. Not knowing an area very well and having limited sight can make it extremely difficult to navigate around town.” Since Angie loves living in her new town with its wonderful climate, it’s understandable why she wanted to do everything she could to make sure she can explore Sarasota safely and responsibly, and to take in all Sarasota has to offer. “Live the life you want,” she exclaims. “Make a difference in this world and don’t let anyone stop you.”

Read or watch other stories of hope and empowerment

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