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Meet Debra Parker-Jordan: Rediscovering her Independence

Debbie standing in a BISM training room, wearing a yellow floral dress, shows a caring smile

“Ms. Debbie” adopted a “You Can Do It!” mantra as a source of motivation and confidence throughout her journey towards rediscovering her independence.

In 2015, when she was [] years old, Ms. Debbie began to lose her vision, but she really wasn’t aware of what was happening to her.  She found that once familiar tasks became more and more challenging as her vision waned. Activities that brought her joy – like cooking – started to become frustrating (and she would occasionally burn herself).  Concerned, her family stepped in and suggested she see a doctor.  The doctor gave her the news she never expected hear; You are going blind.  Hearing those words, Ms. Debbie felt lost and unsure what to do next. Not surprisingly, she was scared, became depressed and spent too many days cooped up in her home not wanting to leave.

Slowly, amidst her darkness, she found a glimmer of hope when someone told her about BISM’s Senior program SAIL – Seniors Achieving Independent Living.  Deciding she wanted to regain her “old life,” Ms. Debbie enrolled into the program in 2021.

Can you imagine at age 61, after a lifetime of vision, suddenly having to learn how to cook, clean, read and get around without sight?  Ms. Debbie couldn’t imagine it either – at first.  It was a rough start for Ms. Debbie, and it was difficult for her to accept her blindness and commit to “re-learning” all of the tasks she had been doing with ease for decades. With the support of her peers and instructors, however, she finally was able to slowly rebuild her confidence, accept her blindness and open herself to instruction and change. She realized that she didn’t want her blindness to define who she was and being happy was important to her.  She was now ready to embrace her blindness and reclaim her confidence and independence!

Since her ahah! moment, Ms. Debbie has achieved remarkable progress in regaining her independence. She is fine tuning her skills in braille, technology, and cane travel. Most importantly, she has found her passion for cooking, upgrading from microwaveable meals to preparing elaborate meals for her family.   She is also out and about exploring new destinations, traveling independently across state lines, and embraces the Baltimore City life visiting friends.

“Yes, I’m blind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be independent. Now I know that I can live life on my own terms.”  Ms. Debbie is proof that she can, and is, doing it.