Louise Daley's Story

July 20.jpgGraduating from a post-secondary institution is no easy feat. From crunched deadlines, to stressful studying periods for exams, education is something that should always be celebrated. For CNIB client, and two-time Athabasca University graduate Louisa Daley, this celebration comes with some even more inspiring breakthroughs.

This spring at the age of 93-years-old, Louisa - who prefers to be called Louise - walked across the stage of Athabasca University (AU) to obtain her diploma for a Bachelors of General Studies; a lovely addition to her Bachelors of Arts diploma obtained from AU. Many would think that Louise's story is remarkable purely due to her determination to continue her education but she's also breaking down stigmas as a senior living with vision loss.

In 2009, it was discovered that Louise had cancer of the eye but in that process, it was also concluded that she had Macular Degeneration; a condition caused by damage to the macula in the retina. Although Louise admits she "was scared to death" when she found out, she concludes her sentence by saying "I'm one of those crazy people that I just have to find the funny side."

Although Louise states that she "hates computers" and jokes that she would rather even cook over a fire than use a stove, using a computer was a big part of her school especially since she completed her degrees through AU's distance education program. Through a grant she received from the University, Louise was able to purchase two assistive pieces that assisted her in her schooling, and even now with emails and solitaire. She uses Zoomtext on her computer and a device called Smartview 360 – a CCTV that can magnify her textbooks and display on a screen. After receiving these devices, a CNIB specialist in assistive technology came to visit Louise at her home to show her how they functioned and how to use them which did help better her relationship with computers.

A few months ago, Louise came to visit her local CNIB shop in Calgary to pick up an audible clock. She describes how this not only helps her with her vision, but also companionship. "If you spend a lot of time with no one to talk to, you have a clock that tells the time. It's such an advantage. It's little things that do help so much". She acknowledges the CNIB and says, "you've helped me the whole way through."

Although Louise says she is unsure if she will be continuing onto her Master's degree, she still says "I have two things I really believe in; one is keeping your brain working and the other one is laughing. If you can do both, you can go through anything."

Louise is an exemplary example of seeing beyond vision loss. Despite barriers in her way, she knew what she wanted and got it. With a positive attitude, and the confidence in her own abilities Louise will be laughing on her way to many more accomplishments.

Photo Courtesy of Athabasca University, 2017.