How a Woman Reinvented Her Journalism Career After Blindness – Empish Thomas

Intern Writer, Empish Thomas

[An African-American woman (Empish Thomas) dresses in professional attire, jewelry, and shoulder-length hair. The woman smiles, standing in front of a light-colored wall.]

As a child, I was intrigued by the written word. I checked out children’s books at my local library and read the newspaper aloud to my parents. All these things compelled and moved me.

Fast forward to my adult life, I received a journalism degree with a promising career before my vision loss. However, six months after graduation, I developed severe headaches and sensitivity to light. I saw an eye doctor and was diagnosed with Uveitis, an inflammatory disease that produces swelling and destroys eye tissues. Yet, within a few years, I was completely blind. According to Genetic and Rare Diseases, an organization that provides accessible, reliable, and easy-to-understand information, fewer than 50,000 people in the U.S. have this disease.

 Despite this diagnosis, my love for the written word did not diminish. I had noticed the negative and sometimes incorrect portrayal of disabled individuals in the media. When reading words such as “handicapped,” “wheelchair bound,” or “suffering from” made me cringe. I was disturbed by stories of inspirational porn. Reading these stories motivated me to be proactive in changing this image. People with disabilities must tell their own story.

Therefore, I love the Nigerian proverb “Don’t let the lion tell the giraffe’s story” because it speaks to my career as a journalist and disability advocate. As we know, the lion is the jungle king and rules the animal kingdom. His voice vibrates the strongest and loudest most of the time.

But other animals, like the giraffe, have voices and stories to tell. Their voices are just as important, influential, and valuable. My goal is to give the giraffe that voice.

I have worked for 20+ years in the disability nonprofit community. I began this career journey as a volunteer writer and editor for an independent living center newsletter. This passion and journalism experience landed me a column in a blind magazine, where I wrote career profiles for 17 years. 

In addition to freelance writing, I have done subcontract work in the disability community. My jobs have included:

  • Facilitating a book club for the low-vision community.
  • Educating disabled women on breast cancer.
  • Participating in accessible cell phone research.
  • Updating a community calendar for the National Federation of the Blind’s Newsline. 

I also offer my personal and professional opinions, consulting, and public speaking in my spare time. For many years, I have participated in various research accessibility projects. I have also provided feedback to authors writing books with a disability theme. I have been a keynote speaker and panelist for various disability conferences, seminars, and workshops. All these opportunities have allowed me to weigh in on global issues within the disability community by providing knowledge, experience, and resources.

I am a firm believer in giving back to my community. So, I have been a volunteer peer advisor and blogger for VisionAware for the last ten years. On this site, I lend my professional and personal experience to people with vision loss. Lastly, I volunteered as the producer and host of the Eye on Blindness Show, sponsored by the Georgia Radio Reading Service (GRRS). The monthly interview-style show featured a special guest providing information on travel, employment, sports, health, and politics. Currently, I participate in my local library book club. Or I am writing about my life on my blog. I am also an audio description movie and podcast enthusiast. 

Today, my journey of advocacy and writing continues with my position as an intern writer with Lights! Camera! Access! (LCA) Newsletter/Marketing Team. While working with LCA, I aim to interact with a new audience and expand my reach. I want my articles for Lights! Camera! Access! (LCA) Newsletter and Marketing Team to educate readers and be that soft but assertive nudge of encouragement

About the Author: Empish Thomas is a contributing Intern Writer with Lights! Camera! Access! (LCA) Newsletter and Marketing Team. She’s been with the disability newsletter brand since 2024.  Empish’s hobbies are watching audio-described movies, reading audiobooks, and listening to podcasts. 

[Image Description: An African American woman (Empish Thomas) dressed in a dark blouse with shoulder-length hair smiles softly. The woman stands in front of a cream color wall with a mirror behind her.] 

Contact information:

Website:  www.empishthomas.com

0 comments on “How a Woman Reinvented Her Journalism Career After Blindness – Empish ThomasAdd yours →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *