Hello, my name is Sheniqua. I was born in the U. S Virgin Islands and have been visually impaired from birth. Till this day my family and doctors are not sure what caused my blindness. My eye condition is known as retinal dystrophy, but doctors are not sure which form I possess. At the age of fourteen, I began to notice small changes in my vision, I went from being able to read with handheld magnifiers, wearing sunglasses in the sun, and being able to walk the mall without assistance, to needing assistance to perform these actions. In high school I began to use a closed circuit television (CCTV), to assist with reading and writing, I also noticed that when using a computer I had to invert the color of the screen (black background with white writing), and with the help of my high school faculty and staff I was able to participate in theater and chorus. After graduation, I attended Tallahassee Community College, and transferred to Florida State University where I then learned my vision had decreased, and began to use a white cane for mobility.
Today I have three beautiful children a seven year old daughter, five year old son, and four year old yellow lab. Once I moved back to South Florida, I began attending City College, where I decided it was time for me to get a guide dog for more independent travel. Though the white cane was very useful, I still was not confident enough to travel on my own. I attended Guiding Eyes for the Blind, located in Yorktown New York, and was paired with Gucci my energetic yellow lab. Since having Gucci, my confidence for independent travel has increased and so had my social life.
Though there are many obstacles you may face while owning a service animal, the biggest one is awareness. I am proud to participate in the Looking Through My Eyes organization, to bring awareness of service animals and vision impairment to the community. This organization has the opportunity to inspire, motivate, and educate our communities about how the vision impaired function in life. Through this program, I am hoping to show people that blindness is not the end of the road for all of us, that because you are blind does not mean you can not rebuild yourself, and hopefully seek gainful employment.