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First Step to Success in a World Not Built for Blindness

michael in a blue cap and gown holding his white cane standing in front of a penn state banner text says the first step to succeed in a world not built for blindness

I still cannot believe I had never met a blind person until 22 years ago when my first baby was born. When I heard the words “Your son is blind,” I spiraled in fear and panic. I had no idea what was possible for my son or his brother that was also born blind three years later.

While I had no vision of my boys’ lives ahead, one thing that was crystal clear to me was that I would need to find someone that was successful without sight in a world not built for blindness – and find out how they did it!

I will never forget the day I met Erik Weihenmayer. More importantly, I will never forget experiencing my oldest blind son, MIchael, meeting Erik that day. Michael was six years old and Erik had just become the first blind person to summit Mt. Everest! I watched them chat and laugh and snicker about “the sighted people” that take pictures of them but never say where to look! (LOL)

Erik on the cover of Time Magazine
Image of Erik climbing Everest on the Cover of Time Magazine

I witnessed Michael’s mind blow wide open with possibility as he talked with a guy just like himself, blind, that had just done something cooler than any sighted person he had ever met!

Meeting people like Erik and so many others that are succeeding without sight gave my boys the hard proof that they had unlimited possibilities for their lives too. In his book The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle calls this ignition, a concept of “if he can do it, I can do it.” Ignition opens minds up to possibility.

Role models give my blind sons the ignition to believe in themselves and believe the lives of their dreams are possible.

Kristin Smedley

That’s just the beginning, though. With access to the tools of blindness, literacy and independence, my sons have followed up that ignition and are achieving their goals and dreams. Michael recently graduated from Penn State University, summa cum laude in two majors. He is working a his dream job with DIsney Corp. Mitchell is about to begin his second year of college, with two majors and a hit country music radio show!

Michael in his cap and gown holding his white cane and standing at a Penn State banner
Michael Smedley Penn State graduation 2022

Seeing, knowing, and experiencing the impact that successful role models had on my sons is the reason I wrote my first book Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. I had never, ever planned to be an author (and many of my English teachers needed oxygen when they got the news!). However, after seeing how the ignition of what is possible changes the trajectory of a person’s journey, I wondered what kind of human would I be if I didn’t share that knowledge.

If you would like to know more about the beginning of my journey (that I am not very proud of) and how my perception of blindness changed and ultimately changed the trajectory of my children’s lives, I invite you to download the Introduction chapter from my book. You can access it here.

If you would like to read the entire book, you can order it on Amazon here.

Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is a two time Best Selling author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker.  She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind.  Kristin now speaks around the world sharing her journey to open the world’s eyes to seeing challenges and blindness differently.  Kristin founded Thriving Blind Academy to solve the unemployment and literacy crisis in the blind community. Watch her TEDx talk here and order her book here.  If you  are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming virtual, live or hybrid event email her at Kristin@ThrivingBlindAcademy.org or download her speaker kit here.

cover of what i can be is up to me cover with text The book that does good

Get the children's book that not only empowers children to believe in themselves and see their unique abilities, 100% OF THE PROCEEDS of this book go to programs at Thriving Blind Academy to empower families raising blind children to thrive!

Kristin Smiling a huge smile with autumn trees behind her
About Kristin Smedley

Kristin Smedley is a visionary leader who empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to unlock their hidden potential and gain a competitive edge. Kristin, a TEDx speaker, best selling author, nonprofit founder x2, business owner, and acclaimed filmmaker, leaves audiences on their feet cheering and wanting more of her energy and influence.

Kristin has spent her lifetime studying people that succeed without sight and discovering those repeatable systems and strategies that cause a  competitive advantage. 

As a single mom with a signature smile that has raised three children (two of which are blind) to surpass all grim expectations and out- achieve everyone around them, Kristin leaves a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to experience her powerful presentations.

the book thriving blind

Find out how Kristin went from crying on the couch over her two son’s diagnosis of blindness, to raising them to thrive! Download the Introduction chapter of Kristin’s Best Selling Book Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. Click the button below!

Thriving Blind Academy!

Join the community with a vibe of THRIVE! Our mentors, live programs and online portal guide Parents of blind/VI children and blind/VI young adults and adults to create lives they are excited to live!