A helping vision

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wanda Sasser Scroggins knows what it’s like to live life both in the light and in the dark. Now, she’s committed herself to making sure others like her realize they aren’t alone.

Today, Scroggins is holding an open meeting for local residents who are visually impaired, and if anyone knows what it’s like to be without sight, she does.

For the last 12 years, the New Hope community resident has been blind after losing her sight because of an undetermined neurological condition.

“My goal is to let those who are visually impaired for whatever reason — whether it’s because of macular degeneration, diabetes, glaucoma or whatever — to realize that their life is not over because they have lost their sight,” Scroggins said. “It’s a hard thing to overcome when you lose your vision.”

In learning to cope with her vision loss, Sasser said she decided “the best defense was a good offense.”

“I went to school for counseling at Auburn, did an internship at Talladega (at the Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind) and then got a certificate from the Lutheran Bible Mission so that I could not only counsel but I could also help teach the Bible to the blind,” she said. “It helped me focus my energy.”

During the course of her studies, Scroggins also discovered the Leader Dog for the Blind Association and ultimately, her Seeing Eye dog, Gibson.

She is now employed as a national representative for the group and spends her time speaking throughout the nation as both a motivational speaker and spokesperson for the organization. She is also a member of the local Lions Club, the civic organization dedicated to the preservation of sight — which gives her the unique ability to “wear two hats” when speaking.

Now, she wants to bring a portion of her “everyday job” to those in Covington County.

“The thing about being blind is that your whole life changes,” she said. “The loss of my sight was immediate and statistics show that one in 10 will be visually impaired by the age of 60.

“When you’re visually impaired, you don’t have to give up your independence,” she said. “You don’t have to stay at home. There are resources out there and there is also a lack of awareness of what those resources are.

“The key to dealing with blindness is learning what to do,” she said. “I want to help people learn what to do, where to go.”

Anyone wishing to attend today’s meeting or to join Scroggins’ support group is asked to call 334-482-3335 or contact her by e-mail at wareaglewanda@gmail.com.

Today’s meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at Larry’s BBQ.