Patricia Mayall long knew that blindness might be in her future. She also knew that Braille Institute would be there whenever she needed help. That knowledge has led her and her husband Robert to include a bequest to Braille Institute in their estate plan.
In the early 1970s, Pat saw her mother go blind from macular degeneration. Pat’s aunt also developed the condition. “It kind of runs in our family,” Pat says. Following the ophthalmologist’s suggestion at that time, Pat took her mother to Braille Institute to sign up for talking books. “They were on vinyl records in those days,” she recalls.
Pat then chose to temporarily halt her studies at UCLA in order to help her mother. She eventually did graduate, became a junior high teacher, and raised a family with her husband, Robert, an electrical engineer with the Edison Company.
As feared, eventually Pat’s own sight did begin to deteriorate due to macular degeneration. At first, like her mother, she went to Braille Institute primarily for talking books and magazines. “They kept offering me classes, too, but I thought I didn’t need them,” she says.
Classes That Make a Difference
Finally, Pat realized she could use more help and she signed up for courses on living with vision loss. “That was a great decision,” says Pat. “I’ve been going ever since.” The first thing she learned was how to get around her home and community with a white cane. “A lot of my friends can’t believe that I can move around as well as I do.”
Pat also learned to read and write in braille and she took classes to master computer software like ZoomText that reads the text on the screen to her. Pat even uses it for the family genealogy she loves researching. “Braille Institute has meant so much to me,” she sums up.
That’s why, when the time came recently to update their trust, Pat and Robert Mayall decided to leave a bequest to Braille Institute. To Pat, Braille Institute is ultimately all about staying connected in the most fundamental human way. “You develop bonds there,” she says. “It’s the one place you can go where everybody understands what your life is like.” And Robert added, “They do so much for so many people…and it’s absolutely free.”