My passion is to encourage self understanding, acceptance, and empowerment by working with you to integrate mental or physical challenge as a positive piece of who you are as a whole being.
I quickly lost my vision the year I turned 11. I had difficulty with my vision since I was 5, but specialist could not find the source of me wanting to be closer to my coloring book and the TV. I remained in elementary school through fifth grade struggling to read the board, print materials, and even towards the end of fifth grade, the ability to move around safely.
As an adult I am very happy with my life and the progress I've made. The journey of integrating disability into my life has taught me resilience and determination. I would be lying if I said "I have arrived,” because this journey will continue as long as I'm alive. But, the percentage of time I think about my differences/limitations depends on my satisfaction in other areas of my life. So my focus is more on realistic values and goals and less on my limitations. I am doing it, many people are doing it, and you can too.
I earned my undergraduate degree in sociology/psychology from the University of Louisiana @ Lafayette. At that time I was also employed as a peer counselor and living skills instructor at an independent living center for blind and visually impaired individuals at Affiliated Blind of Louisiana. My life then took a turn and I ended up in Oregon with a license to practice massage therapy. Eventually, I had a reputable private practice on the coast that lasted for many years. Following my desire for a challenge, I then attended Portland State University where I received my masters in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling. This degree also qualifies me as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. During graduate school I was trained as a counselor in the PSU community clinic and simultaneously trained as a counselor for Disability Services at Portland Community College . Starting in grad school, and currently, I work for PCC as an Accessibility Technician by testing instructional and third-party websites for accessibility.
In addition, I offer services to public and private agencies as an Accommodation/Accessibility Consultant. These services assist an individual to obtain or maintain employment through support with accessible modifications to the physical or digital environment, education to reduce attitudinal barriers, and employment counseling to promote retention and a positive work experience.
I am employed in two different positions at PCC Disability Services; Accessibility Technician and Counselor. In addition, I am working towards my license as a professional counselor with the State of Oregon and practice part-time at a private clinic. I also provide consulting services for companies on evaluations of accessible websites with popular screen-reading software.
As a counselor in Disability Services at PCC, I review medical documentation for eligibility. Afterwards, I conduct an intake interview which entails getting information on the student's experience of disability in past academic settings, how disability has impacted the student in academic settings, past use of accommodations, and how to modify current accommodations at PCC. I support students with self advocacy skills with instructors and other faculty. In addition, I work closely with other Disability Services practitioners to promote disability awareness and best practices for staff and faculty.
As an Accessibility Technician, I provide evaluations of instructional materials and third-party websites to ensure usability by a screen-reader or braille display. I do assist PCC with accessibility of their website as well as accessibility of software adopted by the college.
My private counseling practice is growing everyday. I am thrilled to be providing therapeutic space for individuals who need someone to listen and provide empathetic feedback. I am one of the few counselors who experience a disability (totally blind) so do understand the struggles of integrating disability in to a fulfilling personally meaningful life. I want to provide a support to you and your loved ones in understanding how the phases of change can influence your life. We will work together to get you to where you want to be.
As a part of my private business, I provide services as a consultant to companies as a Website Accessibility Analyst. I have been hired by several large publishers, local corporations, and companies on the usability and accessibility of their business websites. (More information.)