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Interview with Rita Harris, July 12, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:21 - Becoming visually impaired as an adult

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Partial Transcript: Hi. I'm Rita Harris and I will be telling you my story.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes the impact of becoming visually impaired as an adult due to Retinitis Pigmentosa--a genetic disorder that damages the retina. She talks about becoming withdrawn and depressed because she could not longer do the things she loved like working, driving, and shopping.

Keywords: God; Good Hope, Georgia; Religion; career; dependent; diagnosis; family; independent; ophthalmologists; outgoing; retina specialist

00:04:21 - Vocational rehabilitation services

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Partial Transcript: Well, a person--a friend of mine--referred me to vocational rehabilitation services, and I was assigned a mobility trainer that came to my home three days a week.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes working with a mobility trainer to learn how to use a cane. She talks about the importance of regaining her independence by learning how to navigate by herself. Jones discusses her experience with the Leader Dogs for the Blind program where she continued learning mobility skills.

Keywords: Dr. Linn; Rochester Hills, Michigan; cane skills; independence; mental compass direction; mobility orientation; night walking; visually impaired

00:12:14 - Guide Dog

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Partial Transcript: At the end of the week, he asked me if I had considered becoming a guide dog handler.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes her experience training to use a guide dog and the positive impact her dog, Madden, has had on her life. She talks about the importance of compatibility between a guide dog and owner, emphasizing that her dog had to be able to adapt to new situations, handle loud noises, and be stubborn. She describes how having a guide dog gave her the freedom to travel and go on adventures.

Keywords: Africa; Atlanta Motor Speedway; Hawaii; Italy; Labrador Retriever; Naples, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Paris, France; Richard Petty driving experience; Universal Studios; Venice; bucket list; bungee jumping; canes; confidence; danger warnings; horseback riding; independence; kayaking; mission trip; mobility training; school for the blind; tandem bike riding; zip-lining

00:21:44 - Leadership and community involvement

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Partial Transcript: I am Vice President of Madison's Lions Club. I am on the ADA committee at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, as well.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes telling her life story in the poem "Journey to light" which was featured along with her picture at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. She describes starting Living Life Team, Inc., a support group for the blind and visually impaired.

Keywords: 501c3 organization; ADA committee at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); Madison Lion's Club; Montessori school; Morgan County Library; motivational speaking; overcoming obstacles