If someone told me in college while pursuing a journalism degree that 6 months after graduation, I would be visually impaired and later have a career in the disability nonprofit world I would have said they were ridiculous. But that is exactly what happened! During that time, I was laser focused and incredibly ambitious; obtaining a public relations internship each semester. I was determined to work in Corporate America, make lots of money, own a home and a fancy car. However only one of those things happened! I got the home but the rest went out the window. Obviously, God had other plans for my life. I ended up working and writing in the disability nonprofit world as a direct result of my disability. It has been about 20 years and I have no regrets. So, why am I sharing all of this? Well, today is National Nonprofit Day. This day recognizes the goals and positive impacts nonprofits have on communities and the world. Through nonprofits, awareness, research, and aid reach the people who need it most.
Working at Disabled Nonprofits
This above statement holds true because after losing my vision I needed to understand how to advocate for myself as a disabled person. My career plans for Corporate America didn’t pan out. Plus, I wanted to find a way to use the well-earned journalism degree I had just recently obtained. So, for 7 years I worked at disABILITY LINK, an independent living center that focused on advocacy, peer support and self-determination for people with disabilities. There I learned about ways to speak for myself, advocate for others and the self-confidence to start writing. My next job was at the vision rehab center that provided the training I needed to be more independent as a blind person. At the Center for the Visually Impaired I worked as their public education and outreach person. I gave speeches, conducted tours, managed volunteer speakers, wrote for the community bulletin and started their blog, SightSeeing. Also, I was side hustling working for two other nonprofits. At Disability Resource Group I was contracted to do public education and community outreach on their breast cancer project. I reached out to disabled women encouraging them to get annual mammograms and supporting them in self-advocacy.
Writing at Disabled Nonprofits
The other nonprofit was Blind Skills, Inc who published Dialogue Magazine. For 17 years I wrote a career column where I interviewed blind and visually impaired people about the types of jobs and careers they pursued. Over the years I met chefs, small business owners, travel agents, property owners, musicians, artists, app developers, school teachers and more. Using my blogging experience and interest in web coding landed me a contract position with VisionAware where I coded and edited blog posts from our visually impaired peer group. Today, I work from home as a freelance writer. I have a contract assignment with Outlook Business Solutions, another agency that focuses on helping those with vision loss. There I write and edit blog posts and have written stories for their annual report.
Volunteering at Disabled Nonprofits
While working and writing at nonprofits I developed a sincere passion for the nonprofit world and the mission they have to help those in need. I used my journalism skills in a new meaningful way through a volunteer opportunity at the Georgia Radio Reading Service. Instead of writing I was on the radio in the broadcast world. I hosted and produced a show called Eye on Blindness for about 3 years. I interviewed guest in the blind community on a variety of topics. I no longer volunteer at the radio station but write Occasional blog post for VisionAware and recently wrote a post for one of my favorite libraries and another non-profit, Bookshare about the ADA.
Who would have ever known this would be the direction my life and career would take me? But I have embraced it and am grateful for this wonderful journey; that is still not over. I encourage you to learn about nonprofits, support them either as a volunteer or by monetary donation. We need them in our community, society and the world.
49 thoughts on “Working and Writing in the Disability Nonprofit World”
Isn’t it amazing where our lives take us?!
I would say your Journalism degree was well earned and well used! You have done much with it.
I would love to have you do a post on my Friday Friends column! (or to interview you). If you are not familiar with it, you can check out a couple of my posts. https://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-chuck-carr/
It’s a newly resurrection column.
I’m so glad we know each other through VA! I learn so much from my peers.
Grateful for such selfless examples of those working as advocates for others.
Amy, thanks for your comment and yes you are so right about my degree! I was determined to make good use of it because I worked so hard for it. I had some financial challenges getting to school so my degree really means a lot to me even to this day. And yes I would like to work with you on your site. I will reach out to you off line.
god is so good.