By Iacopo Luzi
Maureen Reid, 44, lost her vision when she was 27 because of type 1 diabetes.
Today she works as a job placement counselor at the Chicago Lighthouse, a non-profit organization that assists visually impaired people all over the country.
She agreed to be followed by Medill Reports during the month of May. This photo essay shows how Reid lives a full life.
44-year-old Maureen Reid is blind. She lost her vision when she was 27 years old because of diabetes complications. Today she works at the Chicago Lighthouse, a non-profit that helps and assists visually impaired people. She is a job placement counselor. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS) Gaston is Maureen’s best friend. He is a 19 month old Labrador. They spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. They came together two months ago and the dog still has a lot to learn about Maureen and her habits. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS) “I have a mental map inside my mind to figure out where I have to go and where I am. Even though my hearing is not excellent, I pay attention to all the sounds around me. And when I don’t know where I am, I can always ask someone,” says Maureen Reid. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS) Maureen is married to Tom. They met each other on a dating website. “Our first date was a blind date in every way,” says Maureen laughing. During the weekend, Maureen and Tom go to Jewel Osco for their weekly grocery shopping. (Iacopo Luzi/MEDILL REPORTS) “My hands are my new eyes. With them I can perceive everything around me and understand where I am and what I am doing. I always prefer to use them because I can feel what I touch. I hate when people try to help me holding them. I know that they want to be kind with me but I’m feeling like I lose control of myself,” says Maureen Reid. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS) Maureen and Tom go out for Trivia night every Monday. One of the games requires recognizing faces of famous people. Tom describes every face to Maureen and she is able to tell him who they are. They often win the Trivia game. (Iacopo Luzi/MEDILL REPORTS) Maureen likes to knit. On Sundays she goes to a knitting club hosted in a coffeehouse at Loyola. “It relaxes me and it’s also a good moment for little talks with my friends”, says Maureen Reid. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS) “Even though I lost my vision, I decided to live my life as much as I could. I didn’t want to stay just at home crying for my condition. Obviously, sometimes it is tough, but being blind motivated me to go out from my comfort zone and change my life. In the end, It’s never over, if you don’t want! ”, says Maureen Reid. (Iacopo Luzi/ MEDILL REPORTS)
Photo on top: Maureen together with her dog Gaston on the CTA (Iacopo Luzi/MedillReports)
By Hannah Gebresilassie
Tom Perski turned 19 years old, he noticed something was off with his vision during a baseball practice.
“I saw the ball go up in the air and then it disappeared completely and then reappeared again,” Perski says.
Perski was later diagnosed with a rare case of Stargardt macular dystrophy, a genetic eye disorder which causes progressive vision loss. Today, Perski works at the
Chicago Lighthouse serving the blind and visually impaired.
By Iacopo Luzi
The Chicago Lighthouse has been serving the city’s blind and visually impaired for 110 years, making it one of Chicago’s oldest non-profit agencies.
Located on the West Side, The Lighthouse serves more than 70,000 clients around the U.S. giving blind people jobs and hope.
Around 700 people are employed at the Lighthouse. Its clock factory produces 700 clocks a day.
The Chicago Lighthouse works with people from childhood into their golden years, offering legal services, medical assistance, a radio service and emotional support.
Founded in 1906, the Chicago Lighthouse is one of the most comprehensive social service agencies in the United States. The staff is optimistic about continued success in the future.
The logo of the Chicago Lighthouse at the entrance of their building located in the West Side of the city (Iacopo Luzi/MEDILL)
By Iacopo Luzi
Sandy Murillo is a 28-year old woman who was born with glaucoma and lost her vision when she was just 2 years old.
Since she was a teenager, she has dreamed of working in the media, so she studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Champaign.