Visually Impaired People, Inc. holds year end banquet

Published 8:38 pm Friday, December 11, 2015

William Bowman stood in front of a small group of visually impaired people Friday afternoon with a challenge for them.

“We all need to be able to live from day to day,” Bowman said to the crowd. “We all need to be productive doing something,”

Bowman, President and CEO of Visually Impaired People, Inc. (VIP), held a meeting with his organization at the Dallas County Department of Health Friday to discuss ways in which visually impaired people can learn to live a full and healthy life. Bowman also announced that Melvin Pylant from Wilcox County won this year’s Visually Impaired Person of the Year Award.

Pylant was unable to attend the meeting Friday, but it’s the only meeting he’s missed since he joined VIP.

In his year with the organization, he’s had multiple opportunities to be a guest speaker.

Pylant has been visually impaired for nearly 30 years, but he doesn’t let his impairment limit what he does in his everyday life.

“I never let it control my life,” Pylant said. “I made up my mind when I was going to gentry school that I was not going to sit down and just live in self-pity. I was going to do what I could do.”

Although Pylant has passed many milestones throughout his life as a visually impaired man, he said he still has gained comfort in being a part of VIP.

“When you’re with other people that are dealing with the same problems that you’re dealing with, then it makes the problem that you’re dealing with just a little bit easier to go through life knowing that you’re not out there by yourself,” Pylant said.

At Saturday’s meeting, volunteers from Concordia College Alabama’s Rosa J. Young Center for Women opened the day with songs performed by Bruk Shetta from Ethiopia.

VIP also had representatives from Verizon at the meeting to show how to access information on mobile devices to make it easier for visually impaired people to consume.

“There’s some apps that you can download that will allow you to take a picture of a document and it will read that document to you,” Bowman said.

VIP then welcomed guest speakers to come and share their stories and inspire their audience. One of the guest speakers was Dare Justice, who became legally blind after a car accident in 2003 but still lives a functional life working as a secretary for the Dallas County’s Board of Education.

“You can still do what you want to do,” Justice said to the audience.

“You just have to put your heart and your mind into what you want.”

In between the guest speakers and the food, Bowman shared some of his own personal stories, which he enjoys because it allows him to motivate others to overcome personal challenges that he has overcome.

“It makes me feel good because a lot of times I sit at home and I feel like I can’t do this I can’t do that, but if I end up actually doing something to help somebody, then it actually makes me feel better as an individual that I’m actually a contributing member of society by helping someone,” Bowman said.

Bowman, Justice and Pylant have each faced visual impairments due to different circumstances, but all have overcome a similar battle in becoming functioning members of society who don’t let their disability hinder how they live their everyday lives.

I still get out here in my yard, I cut my grass and I won’t let nobody do anything I can do myself,” Pylant said.

About Justin Fedich

Staff writer for The Selma Times-Journal.

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