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Interview with Gaylon Tootle, December 10, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:28 - Early life and education

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Partial Transcript: I was born in a small southeastern town to two blind parents...

Segment Synopsis: Tootle talks about how his parents sent him to study at the Georgia Academy for the Blind as a child. He explains that the school taught him the skills he needed for independence and eventually prepared him to attend the University of Georgia. After college, Tootle worked for twenty years at Fort Stewart and then ten years at Moody Air Force Base. Tootle later moved to Georgia where he married his wife, who he'd originally met at the University of Georgia. Tootle talks about how, during his younger years, he would often be in denial of his blindness and would often fake being able to see due to his pride.

Keywords: Department of the Army; Georgia Academy for the Blind; Macon, Georgia; Moody Air Force Base; National Federation of the Blind; University of Georgia

00:05:35 - Helping the community

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Partial Transcript: And then I started looking at statistics where a lot of our blind kids...

Segment Synopsis: Tootle talks about how he realized that many blind children in the United States were not receiving a quality education, which led him to want to give back to the community. Tootle recalls that, as a result, he joined the National Federation for the Blind. Tootle describes how his present job in the Center for Independent Living in Augusta, Georgia positively impacts the lives of his consumers, many of whom are disabled. He explains that he developed a competitive spirit through playing, which he claims has been on his greatest assets in being successful despite his disability.

Keywords: Army; Augusta, Georgia; Center for Independent Living; National Federation for the Blind; University of Georgia

00:10:31 - Challenges

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Partial Transcript: Matter of fact, right now, if somebody offered me 20/20 vision...

Segment Synopsis: Tootle talks about how programs like Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS), and technologies have helped people with disabilities have access to knowledge and information. Tootle recalls how, growing up, one of the biggest challenges that he faced was being accepted by peers and by himself. He explains that throughout his youth, his temperament often proved a challenge when he was offended by the rude things people sometimes said.

Keywords: Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS)

00:16:32 - Challenges (cont.) / Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: The barriers that I faced...

Segment Synopsis: Tootle explains that the largest barrier he faced in his youth was himself. He explains that in college, he often would sit in the back of the classroom, where the "cool kids" sat, despite the fact that doing so often prevented him from learning. He expresses his gratitude at the fact that he eventually came to accept himself for who he was and that he now dedicates his time to helping others. Tootle explains that his mission is to educate other blind people, so that they don't let pride get in the way of the resources available to help them.

Keywords: University of Georgia; fitting in; mentoring; pride; self-acceptance; social acceptance