Ellen's story

Bridgewater resident learns to do things differently

Ellen Johnson at her computerDiagnosed with Stargardt’s
disease as a child, Ellen
Johnson knew she would face certain challenges in her life because of her vision loss.

By fifth grade, Ellen had trouble seeing the board and in eighth grade, she could no longer read regular print.

“When you’re a teenager, you typically do everything you can to blend in,” says the Bridgewater resident. “But when you have vision loss, you often feel like you’re standing out from the crowd.”

When Ellen was 17, she attended CNIB’s SCORE camp in Toronto – a program sponsored by Wayne and Walter Gretzky that connects people from all across Canada who are living with vision loss. This was a life-changing experience for Ellen.

“CNIB’s SCORE camp gave me the opportunity to meet other people who were going through similar circumstances,” says Ellen. “It made me realize that I wasn’t that different after all.”

Ellen had such a great experience at SCORE camp that she returned four years later as a counsellor.

Since then, Ellen has learned helpful hints and adaptive techniques for everyday activities, such as doing laundry and cooking by placing raised dots on her stove, washer and dryer.

“Because I’ve lived with vision loss for most of my life, I hadn’t really tried to look for new ways to do things,” says Ellen. “But having CNIB’s Independent Living Specialist teach me new strategies has been really beneficial.”

Today, at age 31, Ellen works as an occupational therapist and doesn’t let her vision loss hold her back.

“CNIB has helped me realize that I needed to re-adjust my expectations of what is normal,” says Ellen. “Just because you may need to do things differently, doesn’t mean you’re doing things the wrong way. What is normal to everyone else may not be normal for you, but it will help guide you to success.”

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