Dr. Geerat Vermeij is a professor of geology at the University of California at Davis, with research interests in marine ecology. Widely published and respected in the academic community, Dr. Vermeij has received prestigious awards including a MacArthur Fellowship and a Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal, and was named a National Ambassador for Braille Literacy by the National Federation of the Blind. Craig Pearson speaks with Dr. Vermeij about growing up blind in a sighted school system, balancing cutting-edge audio technology with Braille, and discovering one’s academic passions.
by Erin Surge
You’d have to live under a rock to have not heard even a little something about the rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. However, we mostly hear about the nasty pranks and childish insults thrown between the two. (I mean, really, how many articles about the stake thrown into the middle of Spartan Stadium by a Wolverine must we share on Facebook?) Something much greater than any of that was happening on October 24th, 2014.
Becca and Peter Khalil are lawyers by training who have, most recently, joined forces to create Beadtography, a craft business specializing in accessible mixed-media art. This husband-wife duo combines photography and beading to create unique pieces of art that feature Braille poetry to engage all on the visual ability spectrum.
Before creating their business, Becca and Peter were both invested in issues surrounding visual impairment. Becca has raised and socialized guide dogs for the blind since she was in the sixth grade, and has raised more than 20 puppies in training. She has volunteered as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guide Dogs of the Desert, and Guide Dogs of America, for which she currently serves as one of the Vancouver, WA/Portland, OR area volunteer group leaders. Peter has had keratoconus, a degenerative corneal condition, since high school. During this time, he has had to adapt to visual distortions, variations in visual acuity, and a number of different treatment methods, the most recent of which was a corneal transplant. Peter’s efforts to adapt to a chronic vision condition have made him a passionate proponent of accessibility in all aspects of life.
In this interview, Craig Pearson talks with Becca and Peter about the inspiration behind their artwork, their creative process, and Braille itself.
Israel Antonio is a five-time Boston marathon qualifier and a Paratriathlon USA National Champion. He is also an accomplished writer, playwright, and screenwriter with wide-ranging interests in performance and the arts. After losing his sight at 14 years old, Israel has continued to set high goals and challenge both his own limits and the assumptions of his fellow athletes. Craig Pearson talks with Mr. Antonio about running with guides, the value of a creative community, and what it means to be a blind screenwriter.