Meet Ashlee Brown, VIP Intern with the FSCJ Low Vision/Rehabilitation Program

Published August 2, 2017 by Anna Ulyanenkova, VIP Program Coordinator

At VIP, we are constantly amazed by clients’ resilience and strength in navigating through life without a pair of glasses. Our vision care services make a tremendous difference for these clients because they not only help them see clearer, they open job and education opportunities, which improve clients’ happiness, health, and financial stability.

Left to right: Marley Curtis (Program Specialist), Ashlee Brown (VIP Intern), Yaneli Petrocelli (Program Specialist)

Unfortunately, glasses are not always the answer, especially for clients who are significantly visually impaired or blind. How does one accommodate to living with low vision? What are the day to day struggles and experiences of someone who is blind?

This summer, VIP hosted Ms. Ashlee Brown, an intern from the Florida State College Jacksonville’s Low Vision/Rehabilitation Program. This extraordinary opportunity helped us get an inside look at what it is like to live and work with low vision. Check out our interview with Ashlee below to learn more about her background, her experience with visual impairment, and her goals and ambitions!

 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and your experience with low vision.

A: My name is Ashlee Brown and I was born and raised in Florida. I used to live in Pasco County and now I live in Jacksonville. I have 2 younger sisters, 1 younger brother, and 1 older brother. My experience with low vision is that I have dealt with vision problems my whole life. Since I have always had low vision, I learned to cope and deal with it by trying to be as happy as possible.

Q: How and when did you become visually impaired?

A: I have been fully visually impaired since March 2014. I am visually impaired because of a genetic disease called Stargardt’s that was passed down to me from my parents. Basically, my retina is clouded by the proteins in my eye, which makes my vision blurry and the details less clear.

Q: What are some day to day challenges of living with low vision?

A: Some day to day challenges are reading normal font papers and running into things that I thought were further away. I also can’t get around easily because I can’t just get up and go anywhere anytime I’d like. I have to depend on the people around me or on public transportation, which is never on time.

Q: What accommodations help you overcome these challenges?

A: When working on a computer, I change the contrast from black on white to white on black. This helps me see the words better. I also zoom in on the site. To help me read hand-written papers, I use an electronic low vision magnifier that changes the contrast to white on black and blows up the text.

Q: What do you do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?

A: I like to read for fun and I also really enjoy cooking and baking.

Q: Do you have a role model? Who is it and why?

A: My older brother is my role model because he wasn’t like most teenagers. He is a hard worker and always strives to do his best. He went through college and accomplished his goal of becoming a police officer. I am motivated by his persistence – he never gave up and he always pushed himself to the max.

Q: What skills do you hope to gain from interning at Vision Is Priceless?

A: Talking on the phone, filling out papers, and working with the computer. My favorite part is learning how to work within the VIP database.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: I see myself finishing up college and becoming a medical biller and coder.

Q: Any last thoughts? Do you have a favorite quote you like to live by?

A: My favorite quote is walk by faith not by sight.

 

Ashlee has been a wonderful addition to the VIP team. She has helped schedule vision screenings and eye exam appointments, entered screening data, and helped us prepare for an upcoming clinic at Johnson and Johnson Vision. She can’t wait to start the medical billing and coding program at FSCJ this fall. We are also incredibly excited for her transition to a part-time administrative support position at VIP in mid-August.