By Mariagrazia Buttitta
October 29, 2022.
Every October, we celebrate Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Both causes mean the world to me. If you know my story — you know that by the time I was 14 years old I received a diagnosis of a rare eye condition called Cone Dystrophy. I was left blindsided—no pun intended—by this rare and complicated eye disorder that would leave me legally blind for the rest of my life. My Sicilian culture lacked the resources, knowledge, and awareness that would allow me to accept such an eye condition. And so; the journey ahead suddenly became a difficult one for me and my parents who had no idea about how to tackle this eye condition head-on.
Thankfully — thanks to the unconditional love and support of my family, joining the NJ Commission for the Blind, receiving the proper Professional help, and surrounding myself with people who cheered me on, I was able to eventually adapt to this eye condition by embracing it, using Jaws the reading software, and walking confidently with my white cane name Casper. The rest fell into place, becoming an author, a motivational speaker, earning a Master’s Degree, becoming a National Certified Counselor, and landing a full-time career as a Career Coach.
None of this was easy, and nothing about this eye condition will ever be. But through educating myself and others, I have found myself, love myself as I am, and learned to never let others’ perception of me blur my vision for the future.
So, on Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I am filled with gratitude for how far I have come and how strong all of this has truly made me.
Embracing Your Differences!
Mariagrazia Buttitta, MA, NCC
Author ∙ Motivational Speaker ∙ Advocate ∙ Career Coach
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