Brittney’s Story

In 2016, Brittney Hodson was living her best life in Onalaska, Wisconsin. A snowboarder, jeweler, wife, and mother of an active toddler, her life was full.

Then, Brittney was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, a condition that occurs when pressure inside the skull increases for no apparent reason, causing the optic nerve to swell. In her case, the swelling stole her vision.

For Brittney, blind at age 29, life lost its purpose. She was sure she’d never work again and worried she’d never be happy. She felt her life was over.

Fear, anxiety and loneliness became Brittney’s constant companions. She didn’t want to do anything because she was afraid she couldn’t. But when she got connected with local vision rehabilitation and orientation and mobility services, life began to change.

First came a job with Kwik Trip as a call center representative in early 2020, which gave her renewed purpose. Then came training with Cory Ballard, Director of Technology at Vision Forward, on JAWS (Job Access With Speech) to help her with specific work tasks.

JAWS is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows users who are blind and visually impaired to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display. Brittney learned keyboard shortcuts within Microsoft Office, including Word and Outlook, to make her job easier and to make her more efficient.

Now, six years after losing her vision, Brittney feels she can do pretty much anything with a little modification . . . and the help of her new guide dog, a black Labrador retriever, named Gracie. Gracie accompanies her everywhere, giving her a stronger sense of independence and confidence as she ventures on her own into new surroundings.

With Gracie at her side, Brittney is once again socializing and finding the joy in life. Her motto moving forward is “Never give up,” and we can’t wait to see where it takes her next!

Thank you for investing in Britney and others living with vision loss.

Together, with your support, we can positively change the present and future of people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.