Living With Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence (Erin Kerkhoff)

Living With Low Vision: Stories of Hope and Independence (Erin Kerkhoff)


[Music] We first noticed that Erin
was having visual problems probably around
the age of three. She had gone to a activity
for kids in the park, and actually one of the college
students that was working and reading them books
came up to us and said, “Your daughter keeps
coming up to us when all of the other kids aren’t. And I don’t think she can see the pictures
in the book.” So we took her into the
University of Iowa and had her checked, and that’s
when they came back in and said, We do think that she
has a visual problem, and it’s not only at distance. Because I honestly
was preparing myself for glasses, and thought that was, oh, this is
going to be a big deal, she’s going to have
to wear glasses. And then they said, I
don’t think she’s seeing up close, either, so we need
to do further testing. We eventually found out
that it was the dominant optic nerve atrophy
and we just, you know, learned more about it. And it was very hard,
very hard at first. Erin has received ongoing
vision rehabilitation services since the
age of probably four. We’ve gone into the
clinic regularly. We have discussed
genetic testing. We have gone over multiple
devices that she can use. I would say we
probably started with the closed
circuit CCTV. We originally got one
for her to try out in the classroom when she
was in kindergarten. And we felt it was a
very useful tool, and we purchased one
to have in our home. She then was, started
using the, we call it her little CC, or
mini CC, hand-held, closed circuit TV
video magnifier. And that was, again, a
day of celebration when we found that tool. It gave her mobility. Simple things like going
to the restaurant and looking at a menu,
she could do now. Looking at price
tags in a store. We looked for the smallest
print that we could find, and it was on a prescription bottle, very tiny. I mean, you could
hardly see it, and she could read it. And that day was
just phenomenal. One thing we really focus
on is always looking out for the next greatest
thing with technology. [child’s voice reading] Well, I would say the iPad for sure has just
been phenomenal. The first day she
read in our car. She read in her room. She read on the couch. She read on the
way to school. And she was also reading
silently now to herself and looking things
up on the Internet. That has actually made
the biggest difference, I would say, for us. [child reading] Look for the technology. It’s there. It can be life-changing. And if you feel like something might be limiting your child, or someone, or a system,
you stand up for them. Be their advocate. [Music]

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