67 year old Bob Vass taught high school for 30 years until his vision loss forced him to resign. “I had hoped to retire on my own terms, but when I was no longer able to recognize my students’ faces clearly and grading papers was an ordeal I know I had to quit teaching. It was devastating to say the least”.
Bob’s vision loss actually began about 40 years ago, caused by rod cone dystrophy. But it was slow and gradual for several years He continued to drive and teach until about four years ago. His initial contact with the Society was as a volunteer several years ago, helping individuals with reading their mail, so he was already familiar with the Society when he made the decision to contact us for services.
“Brenda (Brenda Wendling, Director of Adult Services for the Society) came to my home to assess my needs. She encouraged me to come to her support group for one of the 8 week sessions. That was the beginning of a major attitude change for me. Sharing with others and hearing their stories motivated me and showed me that my life was not over because of my vision loss. I already held several degrees, but as a result of my experience and the knowledge and confidence I gained from the Society I was motivated to go back to graduate school and get a degree in counseling. I am now employed full-time as a counselor, working with individuals and couples”.
Bob has received a wide range of services from the Society since that initial contact. He came through the Drews Low Vision Clinic in 2010 where he saw Dr. Becky Lory, Low Vision optometrist for the agency. He was examined and was shown magnifiers and lamps to help him with reading and purchased a hand held magnifier at that time. He also worked with Mildred Eads, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist at his home. Susan Meissel, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, also worked with him on cane training and other mobility issues. And he returned to the Society for Low Vision Services with Linda Bularzik, Certified Low Vision Therapist.
“Working with people as a counselor has been an amazing experience. But I have a special affinity for people with vision loss. If I can help them cope by sharing my own experiences then I am happy. The Society has given me the confidence to do just that!”