I have had to deal with many challenges in my life. The biggest one has been the challenge of living my life as a woman with a visual impairment. I was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease at the age of 4. At 4 years old I couldn’t pronounce the long complicated name of my eye disease never mind understand what was happening. I was in denial for a good 15 years.
My vision got to the point where denial was no longer an option. I was going to attend university and needed to travel on my own and get around a busy downtown campus. I learned how to use a white cane and started using JAWS, a computer program that makes the computer accessible. I also got involved with my local CNIB office and attended FFB conferences.
Getting to know other visually impaired people my own age really helped me to find my way towards acceptance. After my first FFB conference I talked on the phone for 5 hours with a friend I had met at the conference.
To say it was smooth sailing ever since I went to university and started identifying as a woman with a visual disability would be a big fat lie. There were moments when I wanted to scream with frustration or just give up and hide under the covers. Yet, the bumps in the road taught me to keep focusing on achieving my goals. The support of my family and friends really helped me stay positive. Being able to laugh at myself and laugh at some of the funny situations that come up from having low vision kept me from getting stuck in negativity.
I am more than a woman with a visual impairment. I am a woman who loves to read, has dabbled with creative writing, finished a half-marathon and makes a mean eggplant lasagna. I bring all of myself and my experiences into my role as a counsellor.
Lisa Derencinovic B.A. B.S.W. M.S.W. R.S.W.