It is estimated that about 1.3 million people in the U.S. are legally blind and as many as 10 million have some form of visual impairment. At this year’s inaugural Nevada Bell Academy we met Frida Aizenman, who was born blind and now advocates for others like her - especially young people.

After graduating from college, working for the federal government for decades and learning to use a computer, you could say blindness has not stopped Aizenman from living a full life. She was born in Colombia and brought to America as a young girl. Frida loves teaching young people and wants them to have even better opportunities than she did.

"Our school in Colombia had very little resources, but the nuns, the sisters did teach us to read and write braille," says Aizenman who was born without sight and says early education was key to her success in school and work. But she's frustrated, because in the U.S. only 10% of blind people know how to read and write braille.

“If you had people that can see, and only 10% of them reading and writing, there would be a commotion somewhere, it's really unacceptable,” she says.

This summer, Frida is volunteering her time to work with young students at the special summer school teaching braille literacy.

Helen McCoy is with the Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Her daughter is taking classes from Aizenman during the 10-day Bell Academy and is thrilled braille is being taught. "Having Frida here is teaching them a skill set they're never gonna lose again."

And while the parents are grateful for the instruction, they say Aizenman is teaching them a lot more than braille. "Frida doesn't take no for an answer,” says Helen, “There's nothing that she will not do. She travels independently; she's an independent cane user."

Frida demonstrates for us how her collapsible cane works and how handy she is on her iPad. "Everybody that has an iPad, an iPhone can get Voice Over," she says, happy to teach others how to put technology to good use.

Aizenman is secretary for the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada. She loves teaching people about the history of the blind and clearing up misconceptions about living with visual impairments "...and they think because we are blind we are stupid, and we are not, and so I tell any blind person - 'don't you believe it”, says Frida.

National Federation of the Blind of Nevada

Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children

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