Spotlight on the Deaf-Blind Community

Maricar and watertubing
Maricar is enjoying her ride on a water tube. Enlarged Picture >>>

“Patience and Persistence”

By Maricar Marquez

What challenges me the most is dealing with the loss of my vision which I have been experiencing over many years ever since I was a youngster. It keeps decreasing and I don’t know when I will eventually become totally blind. This is the biggest fear of my life but it does not mean that it will stop me from doing what I want to do. Often people think that deaf-blind people are different, or that they are limited because they cannot hear or see. Perhaps it’s hard to imagine how people with progressive vision loss might cope with losing the beauty of the world. Yet, we have choices. I have made a choice.

I have Usher Syndrome, Type I. When I was growing up, I was able to see a person signing, but because of my vision loss it became difficult to converse with other people. I learned to use tactile communication because I did not want to misunderstand or frustrate others. I wanted to be like my peers who could learn how to drive but I have never learned how to operate a car.

I despised the long, white cane because of its strong identification with blind people and I was embarrassed by that thought. I now rely on the white cane because it has indeed helped me to travel independently.

I used to read regular print materials. However, my vision has changed and though large print is my primary reading method, I realized that reading braille is essential because I can never know when I will not be able to read printed materials anymore. My first braille book was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Reading engaging and fun novels in braille is a great way of keeping up with tactile reading skills. Patience and persistence have helped me to accomplish my goals.

Patience and persistence have also helped me to succeed in athletics. I have jumped from a plane at 14,000 feet above the earth and enjoyed a parachute ride. I loved going rock climbing and spelunking the caves. I enjoyed the experience of competing in triathlons and my most memorable success was running the New York City Marathon. I went parasailing off the Florida coast, as well as jet skiing and water tubing.

I like to stay active in new adventures with the help of SSPs (support service providers) who voluntarily serve their time working with me. I’ve learned to be patient working with them because there are different kinds of people with various communication skills and lifestyles. Not only do I enjoy such adventures but I like quiet times like going to Broadway plays in New York City. I enjoyed watching “Lion King” because I relied on interpreters who helped convey the visual information and actors’ dialogues into my hands.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts and a Master of Science in Administration from Gallaudet University. I am happily married to a wonderful man, Don Horvath. I am a senior independent living instructor at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, NY. I have worked with deaf-blind teenagers and adults from different parts of the nation for over ten years at HKNC. I have taught them to enhance their independent living skills to remain as safe and self-sufficient as possible. They have in turn taught me to better understand about the lives of deaf-blind people and what challenges they face.

I have served on the Board of Directors for AADB since the summer of 2007 where I continue to support the deaf-blind community. Our deaf-blind community is longing for the next conference and I have been working with other board members to raise funds so that many deaf-blind citizens can attend the conference to meet with other people. Also, AADB’s hope for a new generation will be to have young community members become involved and eventually our future leaders.

People should not give up their future. It may not be fair to be deaf-blind but we cannot wish it to go away and simply become a “normal” person. Some are not yet blind but they should think realistically about what they want to do with their lives. There is always a way for us. My decisions are to live life to the fullest and continue to accept new challenges. I have decided to participate to my greatest potential in the world.

Community Events

More AADB Exhibits

AADB will be hitting the road once again in August. We will have an exhibit at the Foundation Fighting Blindness conference in Washington, D.C. on August 8-10. We also will also have an exhibit on August 13-15 at Pathways to Possibilities in Virginia Beach VA; this state-wide conference is a collaborative effort of the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Project for Children and Youth with Dual Sensory Impairments/DeafBlindness, and the Technical Assistance Center for Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing at the Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, we will hold an exhibit at the Southeast Regional Conference on Deafness in Atlanta, GA on October 23-26.

Ohio Association of the Deaf-Blind Conference

The Ohio Association of the Deaf-Blind (OADB) will be having its fourth annual conference in Columbus, OH on September 19-21, 2008. Deadline for registering is August 15, 2008. For more information on registration questions, contact Lynn Jansen, Co-Chair, 513-242-4171 Voice or via email at, or Charlee Major, Co-Chair, at The registration deadline is August 15, 2008.

Person-Centered Approach to Habilitation

This seminar will take place on September 22 to 26, 2008 at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults at their headquarters in Sands Point, NY. For more information, contact the National Training Team at, 516-944-8900, ext. 233 Voice, or 516-944-8937 TTY.

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