Connie R sings by the piano being played by music instructor

Being comfortable advocating for oneself is important for people who are blind or visually impaired. Connie, student and volunteer Spanish choir leader, teaches her students to take what’s in their hearts and express it through their voices.

“What I am doing is empowering them to allow their feelings to be expressed in all walks of life,” Connie said. “It doesn’t matter what the topic is, voice your opinion and don’t be quiet about it.”

Six years ago, Connie was in a car accident and as a result lost her sight. She had to learn on her own how to make do with what she had.

“When I went to Braille Institute, I was dying,” Connie said. “I was going into depression, which I’d never had before. It was an ugly, ugly feeling.”

Through classes at Braille Institute Santa Barbara, Connie began learning how to live life differently. It takes her a long time to cook now, but she can do it! Recently, she went on a flight to Louisiana by herself. Without the comfort of her caregiver she had to rely on her voice to ask for help and directions.

“There were so many people willing to help me along the way,” she said. “I didn’t fall, I didn’t crash. I was safe.” Connie, who has been singing since the third grade, wants those in the Spanish choir to experience the freedom she exudes.

“There is nothing you can’t do as long as you learn to open your mouth,” she said. “It’s all about asking, it’s all about giving, it’s all about expressing yourself because if something good is in your heart, let it out! And that’s what singing is, letting something good out.”