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Success Story

Written by Brenda Criswell, Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Specialist, Iowa Department for the Blind

It was the spring of 2010 and I had just received a referral from one of my fellow IDB rehabilitation counselors. I was being asked to consult with this particular client on employment options; or rather, additional, employment options. The fact of the matter was that this person had been working faithfully for the North Scott School District since 1991 but needed to look for work in the summer to help make ends meet. I made my trek to Davenport and had the pleasure of meeting Deb Brix. Deb and her yellow lab, Ginger, greeted me warmly at the door and made me feel welcome instantly. As I got further acquainted we began the search for her second job. In the course of a few months, we looked at a number of options. In the course of the next few months, a decision was made regarding an opportunity that was deemed a perfect fit for Deb.

The Department had been awarded a grant to fund an Oral History project, which would essentially involve interviewing former clients, staff, and other blind persons who had a history with our agency, and make permanent recordings of such. They needed transcriptionists and Deb said, “Sign me up.” She was interviewed and was ultimately selected to be part of the transcriber’s team. This was a time-limited project and Deb was chomping at the bit to get started. She was able to work from her home and then send the completed material electronically. This was a dream come true! Deb says that the stories were very inspirational. She states that this experience strengthened the notion that nothing will stop her from doing what she wants to do. It must be that “spirit within” that keeps her going.

In getting to know Deb I learned that in addition to experiencing vision loss, she had also survived a very tough divorce. She had been a “stay at home” mom and volunteer for her daughters’ school and their church. Once the marriage fell apart it was up to Deb to find another place to live and raise her daughters. She also experienced a downturn in her vision.

Subsequently, Deb learned about our agency’s services and worked with the Department for the Blind staff on alternative skills of blindness and employment assistance. She remained steadfast in her job for the North Scott schools, bought a home in Davenport, found a driver to take her to and from work, and all the while, maintained a positive attitude, due to that “spirit within.”

Now that the grant project is finished, Deb finds herself looking for supplementary employment for the summer of 2012. She is considering independent contracting from home if the opportunity presents itself, but is also in contact with a local staffing agency to consider temporary employment. Deb cheerfully says, “Whatever happens, I am confident that I can make it.” On a personal note, Deb is now in a committed relationship and is very happy. Yes, it must be that “spirit within” that keeps her motivated and ready to take on life’s next challenge!