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Blind Illustrator: Is That a Thing?

Images of three diffferent covers with book title what I can be is up to me
Finalists in Cover Art Contest for the Children’s Book “What I Can Be Is Up To Me” by Kristin Smedley

In the image above there are three cover ideas for my upcoming children’s book that were chosen from many submissions to my Illustrator Contest. (Access full picture descriptions at the link) All of the artists that submitted to the contest are blind or visually impaired. All three of those submissions were created by blind/VI artists.

I have a question:
Is that shocking to you? Do/Did you believe a blind person could be an artist?

I would bet if you are like 90% of my followers you’d be in the “I’m shocked” party. And that is exactly why my new children’s book is so necessary.

People think blind = not much opportunity/possibility. Most parents raising blind children have a very limited view of possibilities for their lives and that ends up being the biggest barrier to thriving. I know from experience: I was one of them 22 years ago. Unfortunately, a parent’s limited vision for their child’s life translates to less advocacy for a proper education, less push for independence, less energy to connect their child to resources to access a world not built for blindness.

That “lack” and “less” are one of the biggest causes of the $31.7 Billion cost of blindness to the American economy (Retina International, 2021). Blindness does not cause the financial crisis, or unemployment, or illiteracy. Our attitudes about it are the cause.

Imagine being a child of a parent that doesn’t get it. Actually, if you follow me on TikTok you can read the heart wrenching comments of young adult blind and visually impaired children that were raised by parents that did not have a belief that thriving was possible for them. Warning: it is hard to read those stories.

A new question for you:

What if we empowered young children with the knowledge that they hold within them the power to succeed, regardless if they have sight or not, regardless of what anyone else believes?

Although I work everyday to change adults minds about blindness, I realize it is time to empower children, blind and sighted, to see possibility, not barriers, when it comes to blindness and perceived adversity. My new children’s book, What I Can Be Is Up To Me, puts the power of believing in YOURSELF and what’s POSSIBLE in young readers!

I invite you to join the campaign to make this inclusive, accessible, beautifully illustrated book available to the children, families and teachers that need it. Go to our campaign here.

If you’d like to vote for your favorite cover submission (closes 9/30) Go here. Full image descriptions are on the contest page!

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 or download her speaker kit here.

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! 

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!

Cover of What I Can Be IS Up To Me children's book

Get Kristin's NEW inclusive, accessible children's book, "What I Can Be Is Up To Me" is here! Pre-Order the book OR donate one to a teacher/family!

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

Kristin Smedley is the Best Selling author of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight and Brilliantly Resilient: Reset, Rise and Reveal Your Brilliance. A recognized expert in the blindness and rare disease communities, Kristin won the highly regarded Champion of Hope Award and was named an Ambassador for the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Kristin is a popular, in demand speaker who has been invited to share her message internationally.


As CEO of a global patient organization, she coordinated legislation (H.R. #625) that became the first in US history to be submitted in Braille. Kristin spoke at the FDA to help achieve the first ever FDA approved gene therapy to treat an inherited retinal disease in the United States. Her TEDx Talk, book and international summit change perceptions of blindness, and sparked a global movement, Thriving Blind Academy, that is solving the unemployment, literacy, and financial crisis in the blind the community.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristin co-founded Brilliantly Resilient to help people come through life’s challenges and setbacks brilliant, not broken.