My Wish for 2018

Every year at the TED Conference, a $1 Million TED Prize is awarded to one leader in support of their big idea to ‘spark global change’. The winner is also given the opportunity to share this Wish with fellow TED attendees to request they each do everything they 18-minute do in their personal and business lives to support the idea.

And, whoa… these single wishes are nothing short of magnificent. Raj Panjabi, the 2017 TED Prize Winner, shared his vision of a Community Health Academy so that no one in the world will die because they live too far from a doctor. Read Raj’s Wish on TED.com.

I’m All In For Accessibility

After the first TED Talk I ever watched, I remember feeling struck by how well the speaker presented his thoughts and ideas in a short 18-minute presentation. He somehow managed to transcend the screen and inspired me to leap up and take action in sharing his message with others. Each speaker and audience member came from a different background, and collectively, they held the power to change the world. And, they made me unequivocally want to be a part of it all.

Since then, I’ve dreamt of speaking at the Conference in front of an audience of change-makers and catalysts, sharing my vision for a future world that is fully accessible for people with visual impairments – babies, toddlers, children, teens and adults with every diagnosis of blindness.

I’ve committed 2018 to making my dream a reality by taking the necessary steps to earn the titles of speaker, change-maker, and catalyst so that I may one day have such an opportunity as to speak on the TED stage. However, I’d like to take today, January 1, 2018, to share my Wish with you.

The Ultimate Wish

“I wish that you will help me transform our world into a place that is fully accessible to children and adults with visual impairments by understanding what true accessibility and inclusion are for blind individuals, and then actively supporting both throughout your home, school, business, and community.”

How YOU Can Help!

Now, may I ask you to commit to performing just one act this year to contribute to making my Wish a reality?

I know many of you may be thinking, “Yes! I’d love to help, but how?”

Well, first and foremost, the largest impact you can make is by being an advocate for people with disabilities. Chances are that you probably haven’t met many blind people. If you know me, then it’s likely that you probably hadn’t met a single blind child before you met my daughter, Madilyn. (Unless, of course, you are one of the many wonderful parents I’ve met along the way!) So understandably, it may seem like there just aren’t many blind people in the United States… but, that’s not true. There are an estimated 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired, including about 100,000 school-aged children. (source: Blindness and Low Vision Fact Sheet, NFB)

What I’ve found to be a major issue in advocating for the rights of my daughter who is blind, is that we’re still the minority – and always will be. Most schools, businesses (including the products/services they sell), and community places and events, are not made accessible to people who are blind. Although you may not personally know someone who has a visual impairment in your region, the chances are that they are, in fact, there.

Madilyn wearing her Gryffindor Scarf

Will You Become an Advocate?

And, I’m willing to bet that YOU are involved in a school, a business, product or service, or maybe an event, where you could share your voice for people with blindness to help create a more accessible, inclusive community. Aren’t you?

There’s always something that’s needed, so don’t hesitate to ask. Consider reaching out to parents of blind children or seniors who have lost their vision in your area. Trust me, they’ll be touched by your compassion and consideration more than anything, because an act such as this – making a warm, human connection – is priceless.

Be sure to share this with your friends and follow my blog this year to learn more about accessibility, inclusion, and life with Madilyn! xoxo

3 Comments

  1. Hillary, it’s a fabulous idea! Run with it. Keep going. Be the voice. Keep reaching out. I support this 1000%. I miss working with WP and was thinking what step to take next, how to reconnect. I’m here for you if you need a step up. !

  2. Lara Harris David

    Great piece, Hillary, and I’m in! So, I do have a question for you–what is the best way to greet or introduce myself/kids to someone who is blind? I’ve always said my name and how the person may know me; e.g. “Hi Maddie, it’s Lara, Hailey’s mom.” I just assumed this was the way to go about it, but if I should be doing something different, let me know!

    • Hi Lara!
      Thanks for commenting =) For blind kids, I think that your greeting is perfect! Madilyn knows right away exactly who you are. Also, I think it’s a great way especially in the baseball park setting where there are lots of voices, often new and unfamiliar.
      Another great tip I can offer for meeting anyone who is blind/visually impaired (even a small child or older adult), is to say hello as soon as you enter the room or area within speaking distance. When I often pass older students and adults in the Perkins Office Buildings, some will say hello first and sometimes I do if they don’t seem “on a mission” just as I imagine I would with anyone, sighted or blind.

      Thanks for your wonderful question, Lara! Here’s an article about Blind Etiquette, too: http://www.perkins.org/stories/blind-etiquette-six-ways-to-be-gracious-around-people-with-visual-impairments

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