My name is Jeanette and I am blind. This is not usually something I immediately share, often because it’s obvious in the way I move or via the giant black labrador guide dog padding softly at my side. I’m also a first-generation American, raised in poverty and instability. I didn’t realize I was disabled until high school – when a guidance counselor told me. He introduced me to a vocational rehabilitation program that helped me go to University; without that assistance I would have continued in homelessness and/or who knows!
Twelve years later, I independently made my way through undergraduate and graduate programs, exploring career options I never thought possible while growing up in government housing. Even though my vision continued to worsen and I struggled to learn new ways of living and learning without my once functional vision, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Special Education with a focus on assistive technologies. I had found a way to marry my passion for helping people with my love of technologies.
Today, I work as an assistive technology specialist in a Title 1 urban school district in Massachusetts. I have single-handedly built a district-wide assistive technology program from scratch, over the past three years and with the cooperation and amazing collaboration of administrators, teachers, specialists, paraprofessionals, students and families. I also serve on the advisory board of MassMATCH and am a board member on the City of Malden Human Rights, Fairy Housing and Disability Issues commission. I work hard to be the change I want to see in the world – and I believe in the power of education, empathy and advocacy to improve self-efficacy and empower persons who are otherwise marginalized by disability, gender identity, race, class, religion, nationality, size, sexual orientation/identity, ethnicity and age.