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Kristin's Mega Mission: Change How the World Sees Blindness

Kristin believes every person impacted by blindness deserves resources  for thriving and options for sight.

In 2018, my oldest blind son was not interested in a cure for blindness because he was empowered with the tools he needed to succeed without sight. Fast forward to 2022 when he was graduating Penn Sate University, summa cum laude and a top recruit in his field… an no one would hire him due to the bias against blindness. He spoke words that slugged my heart:  “Where are we at with a cure, Mom? The world is not ready for thriving with blindness.” I work harder than everyone I know to change how the world sees blindness and get options for sight on the table. My two blind sons and millions of others deserve that. 

– Kristin Smedley, Co-Founder Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation, Co-Founder Thriving Blind Academy


Curing Reitnal Blindness Foundation Together we can do so much

Kristin started CRB1.org, the only patient organization in the world for CRB1 LCA/RP with a simple Facebook post recruiting other affected families. In less than 6 years, she was one of 12 people invited to testify at the FDA for the first ever gene therapy to treat an inherited retinal disease. 

Additional highlights of Kristin’s work with CRB1.org:

  • Coordinated first legislation in US History to be submitted in Braille (H.Res. #625)
  • Partnered with Comcast to promote the accessible  X1 talking guide. The campaign was Comcast’s biggest online campaign reaching over 1.25M people
  • Raised over $4M for CRB1 specific research
  • Partnered with Spark Therapeutics to change how pharma engages patients that are blind; helped get Luxturna approved in the US
laptop showing thriving blind academy logo

Kristin’s two blind sons have beat every grim statistic for people that are blind. Kristin figured out the strategies and tools that worked for them and teamed up with a successful visually impaired friend to make the strategies of succeeding without sight repeatable and accessible.

Highlights of TBA thus far:

  • Guided blind artist Clarke Reynolds to go from being told “no blind artist can succeed” to being a successful artist commissioned in multiple countries
  • Guided blind high school students to win against College Board, a company that withheld Braille AP exams from the students that needed them
  • Succeed Without Sight Summit is attended by people from six continents

More about Kristin's mission to change the story and statistics of blindness:

A message from Co-Founder, Kristin Smedley:

Imagine being part of a community of adults, youth, parents and professionals who are committed to supporting your journey with blindness and fostering an inclusive world where everyone can succeed without sight. 

If you’ve read Thriving Blind or watched my TEDx Talk, and the message resonates with you, and you’re looking for like-minded people who share your values, and  mentors to guide you along the way,  I invite you to join The Thriving Blind Academy.

This is a private, global COMMUNITY committed to helping you build a thriving mindset and connect with tools and resources to succeed in school, business and life without sight.

Here you will be inspired and empowered to live an inspired and empowered life.

Kristin Smiling a huge smile with autumn trees behind her

Why is the Thriving Blind Movement Crucial?

Thriving Blind Academy empowers and inspires blind and visually impaired people to thrive in school, business, and life.

Kristin and her three kids. Boys have white canes

What is Thriving blind?

The Thriving Blind Movement began with the success of the book, Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight.  Kristin Smedley wrote and published it in 2019 to be the resource for others that she did not have when a doctor told her “Your son is blind.” It debuted as a #1 New Release on Amazon and quickly moved to the top of the Best Seller list.

The book’s popularity grew the Facebook community by leaps and bounds. However, it became clear  that one book of thirteen stories was not enough to  change perceptions of blindness from pity to positivity and equip families impacted by blindness to thrive. 

Now, with an annual global summit, worldwide membership, and collaborations with industry, organizations, and education systems, Thriving Blind is no longer a hope concept.  It is a community with a goal and a blueprint for all that are impacted by blindness to thrive!

Play Video

Succeed without sight summit

27 Countries in attendance
30+ speakers
20+ hours of presentations and discussions

The Succeed Without Sight Summit is an annual FREE virtual event held in December  that brings together those that are thriving with blindness to share their inspirational stories and reveal key strategies to their success, and the families, individuals, and professionals that are looking for resources and role models to succeed without sight.  At the first summit in 2020, seventeen countries were represented.  27 speakers ignited inspiration and action for more than 8 hours over 3 days! The Summit is FREE however donations are appreciated and necessary to support the work of TBA all year long!

Succeed Without Sight Banner showing 17 countries flags

Get a taste...

WATCH: The #1 Question I Asked at ALL IEP Meetings That Helped My Sons Thrive at The Top of Their Class!

The Book

Thriving Blind

This book will transform your idea of what is possible for people who encounter a devastating life event and will catapult your motivation to set extraordinary expectations for your own life.

Welcome to Thriving Blind – a place where we change perceptions of blindness, Set Extraordinary Expectations, and give you tools to guide blind people to THRIVE!

THRIVING BLIND ACADEMY is so honored and grateful for the success of the first ever Succeed Without Sight Summit!

17 Countries in attendance

27 speakers

8+ hours of presentations and discussions

I’ve been involved in the organized blind community for three decades, and we have annual conferences and other meetings where people present and where exhibitors exhibit. You bring a unique and wonderful energy, and your event was unique and of tremendous value. You are approachable, and so was the event. It was warm, relaxed, informative, and lots of fun. 

Ron Brooks

Watch for info on the 2021 Succeed Without Sight Summit!

Thriving Blind Academy Members receive a FREE VIP UPGRADE to the Summit (which includes all session recordings, give-a-ways, and more!) as well as monthly opportunities to chat with our speakers and mentors!

WATCH: The #1 Question I Asked at ALL IEP Meetings That Helped My Sons Thrive at The Top of Their Class!

WATCH the replay of the Info Webinar with program details!

Kristin and a thrid grade girl holding the book thriving blind

Thriving Blind Kindle Edition Debuts as  #1 New Release and #2 Best Seller on AMAZON!

Thriving Blind Paperback Edition Debuts as #1 New Release on Amazon!

Cover of the book Thriving Blind with caption that reads "electroing Braille Edition"

Thanks to a generous donation from John Legere of TMobile, Thriving Blind is avaialable in .brf format at the same price as the Kindle version!



This book will transform your idea of what is possible for people who encounter a devastating life event and will catapult your motivation to set extraordinary expectations for your own life.

Reality TV star, YouTube sensation, Teacher of Year.

Have you ever dreamed of having one of these titles next to your name?

Maybe you dream of climbing Mt. Everest or becoming a successful CEO of a national organization.  Now, would you consider any of this if you were… blind?

Kristin Smedley’s two sons were diagnosed as blind when they were each just four months old.  Having no experience with blindness, Kristin expected a life of challenge for her boys. However, eventually she met a few people that would change her perception of what is possible for those navigating the world without sight.  She decided to set extraordinary expectations for her sons, equipping them with tools and resources to navigate their world. Soon, tears became cheers as Kristin celebrated her boys’ successes in school, baseball championships and theater productions. Recently, Kristin delivered her oldest blind son to college a thousand miles away from home.  Kristin’s boys, like the people in this book, aren’t just surviving blindness, they’re thriving.

While the stories in Thriving Blind demonstrate how blind people used creativity and determination to live the life of their dreams, the lessons they convey about facing fears and crashing through society’s barriers are transformative for all who experience struggles.


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headshot of kristin


Kristin Smedley’s mantra is “Life is funny…sort of.” Her fun-loving spirit and energetic personality guided her life in the direction of a career in teaching. Kristin fantasized that she would one day be an inspiring third grade teacher, and after earning her degree, she landed her first job in education.

But fate had other plans, and Kristin found herself shockingly dealt a double dose of darkness. Her firstborn son, Michael, was diagnosed as legally blind when he was just four months old, despite the fact that she was advised the chances of having a blind child were one in one million. In fact, only 300 children in the United States shared Michael’s genetic mutation.

Once known for her smile, Kristin found herself devastated and angry. Yet fate wasn’t finished. Three years later, Kristin received another blow when her second son, Mitchell, was also diagnosed as legally blind at four months of age.

Before the birth of her babies, Kristin had never known a blind person. The boys’ retina specialist informed her family that both children would need white canes to navigate the world, and that neither of them would likely ever attend a normal school, pitch a baseball, drive a car, or be able to secure a great job. With no idea how to navigate their needs, Kristin saw little hope for their future.

Nearly suffocating from her own fears, Kristin knew she needed to overcome the anxiety, worry, and obstacles for the sake of her sons, but she had no idea how to  proceed. Yet, knowing that Michael and Mitchell needed their mother to fight for them, Kristin began advocating for the tools her blind children needed.

As Kristin found and equipped her boys with the resources to help them thrive, they not only took on the world, but changed Kristin’s perception of blindness. With the right foundation and a multitude of resources and tools, her children have become popular, accomplished athletes, high-achieving students, talented musicians, and International Braille competition finalists, as well as typical big brothers to their sighted sister, Karissa, both teasing and supporting her as big brothers do!

In 2011, Kristin launched a mission to fund research and resources for children living with the rare eye disease her sons have. In less than eight years, the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation has raised over a million dollars and achieved the first legislation in US history to be submitted in Braille—legislation that advocates for better resources for blind and visually impaired Americans.

In 2016, Kristin’s blog about changing people’s perceptions of blindness went worldwide and was followed by her 2017 TEDx Talk on setting extraordinary expectations. She partnered with Comcast media to spread awareness of the inclusive X1 product. Kristin was one of twelve people in the world invited to testify before the US Food and Drug Administration to advocate for the approval of the first-ever gene therapy to reverse blindness. Kristin is currently the Pennsylvania Ambassador for the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD).

Kristin, Michael, Mitchell, and Karissa now mentor families living with blindness, and Kristin’s public speaking engagements, book, and social media outreach teach others to move past their fears and obstacles to achieve extraordinary outcomes. You, too, can set extraordinary expectations and achieve your dreams. Please read and share Kristin’s story!

WATCH Kristin’s TEDx Talk in New York City titled “How I Learned to See Through the Eyes of My Sons”

Image is a photo of Kristin SMedley on the TEDx stage.  The quote is from her TEDx talk and reads: I had been blind to the possibility of my son having an amazing life.



where Kristin and her family share tips, insights, successes and “epic fails” of raising blind children to chase their dreams, follow their passions and… thrive!  You can “LIKE” the Thriving Blind community page on Facebook here !