Who Your Dollars Help

Paul Heddings is a force to be reckoned with. He is a junior in the highly competitive Honors Pre-Law Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he is pursuing a double major in Political Science and International Business. Paul plans to go to law school, and study disability advocacy law.

Paul lost his vision five years ago, as the result of a genetic condition. Doctors were at a loss after 17 surgeries were unable to repair the damage to Paul’s vision. Paul came to Alphapointe with little knowledge of vision rehabilitation, or the adaptive technology options available to him. His teachers weren’t much help, and it took him three times as long to complete his assignments. He was referred to Alphapointe by Rehab. Services for the Blind, and a whole new world of options opened up for him. He learned about closed circuit televisions, Zoom Text and note taking machines. He worked extensively to learn how to navigate the Blackboard system, a message board that is critical to his success in college.

Paul completed an internship with a local law firm through the Student Transitional Employment Program at Alphapointe. He is well on his way to the bright, successful future he and his parents always planned for him.

Dr. Deloris Pinkard believes in blessings. A respected 39 year veteran educator and administrator in the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools and KCKS Community College system, a leader in her church and community, and the owner of a successful business, she had been blessed many times. Then, Dr. Pinkard experienced a significant vision loss from an eye surgery and diabetic retinopathy, an all-too common side effect of the diabetes that she had managed for years. For Dr. Pinkard, some of her blessings seemed to stop.

“When I lost my vision, I felt like I lost my life.” Dr. Pinkard says. “I didn’t even open my blinds to let in light; I just walked around in the dark. I was very depressed.”

Dr. Pinkard withdrew from life. She resigned from the many advisory boards she served on because she was unable to read emails or reports. She stopped participating in the leadership of her church community because she felt embarrassed when she was unable to recognize other members from short distances. She even felt uncomfortable talking on the telephone to friends. “Since I wasn’t able to even read the newspaper anymore, I felt like I had nothing to offer to a conversation. I became a recluse.”

Then, Dr. Pinkard came to Alphapointe and the blessings began again. Mary Pat Gilbert, Diabetes Services Manager at Alphapointe, began working with Dr. Pinkard on a variety of issues related to her vision loss. She learned about talking blood glucose monitors, and how to use one to test her blood and began to track her glucose levels, again participating in managing her health care. This small return to independence had a profound effect on Dr. Pinkard and her outlook. “After learning how to use the talking monitor, I really began to see the possibilities for other areas of my life.”

Armed with new confidence, Dr. Pinkard took on the challenge of reading again next. Mary Pat connected her with a technology company that enabled Dr. Pinkard to purchase a closed circuit television. “I could read my own mail and pay my own bills!” says Dr. Pinkard. “I never thought I’d be able to do that again.” She learned how to use a magnifying mouse so that reading emails was a manageable challenge. Mary Pat also referred Dr. Pinkard to the Audio Reader Network and the Wolfner Library so that she could once again access information and news. “Now that I knew what was going in the world and in my community, I could hold conversations with friends again.”

Today, Dr. Pinkard is back participating in life. She has rejoined the board of a new charter school in her school district, and is thankful to be giving back to her community again. She is an usher at her church, and is even exploring starting up her consulting business again. Once embarrassed to talk about her vision loss, she now shares her story with other people in similar situations. “I tell them, call Alphapointe! They can give you the tools to get your life back one step at a time.”

Dr. Pinkard once again finds more blessings in her life, and is confident in her future. “I used to pray for my vision to be restored. Now, after Alphapointe, I realize that my prayers have been answered.”