When Geraldine lost her vision, she initially felt as if all of life’s doors had closed on her. But, as the saying goes; when one door closes, another opens. And for Geraldine, life is full of open doors.
A trained nurse and mother of 12 year-old twin boys, Joshua and Aaron, Geraldine developed optic neuropathy in her 30s, causing her to go blind.
“I had to completely start from scratch and learn how to get around all over again. It was a huge challenge but I knew I had to try as hard as I could, for the sake of my family,” Geraldine said.
“Vision Australia have been absolutely brilliant in helping me achieve and maintain an independent life, including matching me and training me with my Seeing Eye Dog, Iris. They helped me with orientation and mobility services, provided me with assistance from occupational therapists to give me independence at home, as well as assistance with applying for and managing my NDIS plan – nothing has been too much trouble.”
Within a few years of regaining her independence, Geraldine had returned to her studies, qualifying as a teacher in secondary education, and later teaching in computer networking and IT to students who are blind or have low vision.
It was Geraldine’s hunger for knowledge that prompted her to take her studies further, undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Teaching, Masters Degrees in Disability Studies, Special Education, Gerontology and Palliative Care and later she completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) at Flinders University. Her PhD thesis ‘There's More to a Dog Guide than Meets the Eye’ explores the potential physical, emotional and psychosocial health benefits of working with a dog guide. This study was the first of its kind in Australia.
[PD: Geraldine graduating in full academic robes as a Doctor of Philosophy, with SED Iris]
Today, Geraldine teaches Palliative Care and Applied Gerontology topics at Flinders University and Bachelor of Education and Masters of Teaching topics at Curtin University, and also supervises research students.
“In a way, my studies gave me the chance to immerse myself in something, but I love to always be learning and teaching and I have no intention to retire,” Geraldine added.
“My advice to anyone dealing with blindness or low vision is to never give up. There will be many frustrations, but persistence is key. Was it easy? No, not always, but never give up, and don't be afraid to ask for help, you’ll be surprised how happy people are to assist.”
If Vision Australia could support you after a change in your vision, get in touch with us today. Call 1300 84 74 66 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find your nearest Vision Australia office here.