Faced with vision loss at the age of 12, I learned quickly that the same old approach doesn’t cut it when life throws you a major curve.
A fighter from the beginning, I arrived two-and-a-half months early, after a long and complicated labor.
I was a happy, somewhat shy child, who spent spring and summer afternoons picking bouquets consisting of as many different types and colors of flowers as possible. My insatiable love for reading compelled me to devour entire library books on an almost nightly basis. A phenomenal artist, I had aspirations of going professional one day.
All that changed a few months before my twelfth birthday, when I was suddenly faced with vision loss due to retinal detachment.
Completely shaken, my family and I learned for the first time that my vision loss was an inevitability, stemming from my premature birth.
As the world fades before me, I am confronted by the reality that some previously familiar people are now uncomfortable approaching me due to their own hyper-awareness of my disability.
To maintain my quality of life, I determine that I am now responsible to make the first move in social situations, to be approachable and initiate conversation; It is imperative for me to break through my adolescent self-consciousness and learn to reach out to others in a way that puts them so at ease with my disability that they set aside their preconceptions and take the time to get to know and view me as a person, not a “walking disability”.
The desire to bridge that gap and create an atmosphere of understanding that allows people to be viewed for who they are, rather than for the limitations of their bodies, has become my driving force.
It is why I speak.
It is why I write.
It is why I advocate.
It is my passion.
Donna Mack holds a Masters degree in Education. She is an award-winning advocate and author in the field of disability who works with clients to successfully navigate change.
Donna hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and is the proud parent of two caring and successful young adults. She is a lover of God, people, laughter, parties and dark chocolate. She considers long walks and snuggles with black lab, Wella, among her most sacred investments of quiet time.