Bainbridge Island resident and long-time advocate for the blind, Kristina Colcock, has been appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Rehabilitation Council for the Blind to represent consumer organizations.
Her three-year term will end Sept. 13, 2025.
The state council for the blind is an advisory group of volunteers that provides guidance to the state Department of Services for the Blind. The council reviews, evaluates and makes recommendations to ensure that blind or visually impaired people receive the effective and efficient rehabilitation services.
Colcock hopes to help the agency better serve the blind and to get the word out to help families with a child who has become blind due to illness, or accident, or an individual who is losing or lost their vision.
“One of the biggest barriers to a blind individual having and living the life they want to live is low expectations. The role of the Department Services for the Blind is to step in when somebody has become blind and to help them with orientation and mobility and with vocational rehabilitation. This is the process that keeps people moving forward,” she said.
Colcock was born with retinal blastoma, cancer of the retinas, and at 6 months old her left eye was removed. She had 20/20 vision in the other eye, but became legally blind when she was a junior in high school. She describes her vision now as similar to looking through a window smeared with Vaseline. “I’ve got this really weird vision, but I use a cane. I read braille, and I use a screen reader,” she said.
In 2000, Colcock became involved with the National Federation of the Blind when her daughter was 2 years old. “I just wasn’t part of the blind community,” she said. She got involved and became a voice for others. “It’s important to get out there and advocate for people because there are things that are not correct that need to be fixed.”
Colcock attended the state Rehabilitation Council meetings in person, but when the pandemic ushered in the use of Zoom, “It became so much easier to attend.”
Colcock encourages families with blind youth to transition through the rehabilitation process because they need to learn to take care of themselves, so can successfully get a job while they are in high school, to take out the garbage, cook dinner and have a clean room. “They can do it all, maybe with some alternative techniques, but don’t let your kid off.”
Losing one’s vision can be traumatic and is something that people fear, but “if you lose your vision, it’s not the end of the world. But, you can be out there, and you can find alternative ways, and you can move forward and live the life you want.”
For more go to dsb.wa.gov, NFBW.org or the V.I.P. Support Group at 206-780-2835.