Changing how the world sees blindness... starting with the youngest sets of eyes.
Hi! My name is Kristin and I am the Mom of two blind sons and a sighted daughter. When my children were diagnosed as blind shortly after birth, I had no information other than what the world believed about blindness - that it would be a barrier to my boys' success. Once I met blind role models and introduced them to my sons, our lives changed and we beat every grim statistic in this community. A few years ago, I put the stories of our role models in a book for parents of blind children to have better information about blindness than I did. NOW, I have created a children's book for young readers, blind AND sighted, to be informed about blindness and enjoy the exciting story!
Teachers will enjoy using this book in class:
Introduce and reinforce high frequency words
Intentional sentence structures to support knowledge acquisition
Text chunking so content is manageable
Fun and engaging storyline
Repetitive sentence structures
Appropriate age level content load
Young readers will enjoy this book:
Fun, engaging story
Rhythmic, action text
Repeated text for reading success
Each page has an exciting action for the
reader to envision
A surprise ending!
Print + Braille for all readers to access!
Parents will enjoy this book:
Blind and sighted siblings can read it together
Blind parent can read to sighted children
Success principles are the throughline of the story
Introduces young reader to role models that are blind/low vision
"Characters" are from different races, ethnicity, nationality, and genders.
Every person in the story has a disability (blindness/CVI/low vision).
The print + braille format makes the book accessible for all readers.
The illustrations are being created by a visually impaired artist. (Check out the submissions below to our illustrator contest!)
We are partnering with the National Braille Press to make this book available in print AND braille so all readers can access it. Production costs for such a book are higher than a regular print book. Our successful Kickstarter campaign helped offset the majority of the extra costs!
Kristin Smedley, Author
Kristin is the Mom of three children, two of which were born with the rare blindness CRB1-LCA/RP. She is a TEDx speaker, nonprofit CEO, and best selling author of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight and Brilliantly Resilient: Reset, Rise and Reveal Your Brilliance. Kristin is the Co-Founder of Thriving Blind Academy, a membership organization that is solving the unemployment, literacy and financial crisis in the blind community.
Kim Crothers, Illustrator
Kim has always wanted to pursue art and design from a very young age. She attended Mississippi State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in graphic design. Kim is also visually impaired. She was diagnosed during early childhood with ADOA (Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy), a rare eye disease that causes progressive and irreversible vision loss in both eyes. Kim and her family reside in Mississippi.
Tara Funk, Disability Advocate
Tara Funk is a lifelong learner, advocate for the disability community, TEDx speaker, and has a wealth of experience in educational publishing. Since February 2013, Tara has been focused on learning how best to live life with purpose and meaning in a body with disabilities. Tara is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and experiences where opportunity aligns with her values. As the mother of two young men living in a beautiful town on Long Island, she is grounded in a practice of gratitude for the life she and her family live. She lives by the quote, “you cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sales. “ It was the last line of her 2017 TEDx talk.
Diana Garcia-Mejia, Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Diana decided she wanted to become a teacher of students with visual impairments at a young age. A graduate of Florida State University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Visual Disabilities Education and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Visual Disabilities with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. She is a 2018 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children and was featured in Bethesda Magazine for her deep passion for teaching. Diana has an Instagram account, @prektvi that empowers people to serve the unique needs of young children with visual impairments.
Aubrey Schneider, Student
Aubrey Schneider is a student who is dedicated to learning, improving, and helping others. She has won two writing awards at her school and has always been interested in literature that contributes to society, and that is exactly what she feels What I Can Be Is Up To Me will become. She is a member of her school's drama program, GVPAA, and before high school she was an assistant coach in the Spirit Cheer program for kids with special needs. Aubrey lives with her parents, her brother, and her two cats. She has two cousins that are living and thriving with blindness. She is honored to be a part of the creative process behind this book and beyond excited to work with these amazing people.
Susan Schneider, Member, Board of Directors CRB1.org
Susan Schneider worked as an account manager for a third party administrator for 28 years. Susan is a member of the Board of Directors of CRB1.org, the global patient organization for CRB1-LCA/RP blindness, and an integral part of Thriving Productions. While Susan has always been involved in volunteering for causes that are important to her, her main focus is her family, especially her 12 grandchildren (two of whom are blind). Susan’s greatest joy is watching the love and acceptance her grandchildren all have for each other.