My name is Shana Kassel and I am 29 years old. I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Cystoid Macular Edema when I was 19. Up until I was 19, I had perfect vision, could drive at night, and see the stars in the sky.
After many eye exam visits to UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute and eye injection after another and my vision only getting worse, it really hit me hard that I could go completely blind someday.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t down and hard on myself, but I knew there had to be other options and ways out there for me to do things.
After my own research and posting on the Retinitis Pigmentosa Facebook page, I found many resources for the blind, one being the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, CA. I attended OCB for 6 months and learned how to be independent while losing my vision. I learned O&M training using my cane (that I call Abel), cooking, daily living skills, braille, assistive technology and computer skills and did all this while blindfolded.
Over the last 10 years, my vision has slowly reduced to the point where I am considered legally blind. I cannot drive anymore and my vision is down to a range of 20/300 and a visual field of 7 degrees.
I am now in school taking the Desktop Support Technician program at the World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here, I will be receiving my CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, and CompTIA Network+ certifications.
After this program, I hope to work for a company where I can provide technical support both in person and remotely. I feel truly blessed and grateful to be selected for a Visual Experience to Niagara Falls to burn memories.
With my vision only getting worse and at a quicker rate at that, there are quite a few places I really want to see and explore while I still can and Niagara Falls is one of them. I have no idea what to expect going on this Visual Experience, but I am really excited and looking forward to burning memories while I can still see.