Mentor for the blind to speak at MC

Elizabeth Sammons, a mentor and role model for children who are blind and visually impaired, will speak at Marietta College’s McDonough Gallery at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 11.

Dr. Bill Bauer, McCoy associate professor of education, said Sammons will speak about growing up with her disability and the struggles and successes she has endured.

When Sammons’ congenital eye condition caused her to go blind, her parents were encouraged by a physician to institutionalize her at just 6 weeks old. Ignoring the advice, Sammons’ parents watched their daughter enter fifth grade in a normal classroom after several years in blind and visually impaired classes.

Sammons graduated from high school when she was 16, because she said she was tired of the bullying she experienced. It took her just three years to double major in French and communications from Ohio State University. She also earned a master of arts in journalism from OSU.

She mastered several languages and spent an exchange year in Switzerland, and immediately after the end of her education, became a guide in the U.S. Information Agency’s ongoing citizens exchange exhibit to the then Soviet Union. She continued for the next decade as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Hungary, a nonprofit manager of a news advocacy group in Central Asia, and a teacher, interpreter, marketer and cross-disability advocate in Novosibirsk, Siberia.

In 2000, she returned to the U.S. and worked as a claims representative for Social Security until her interest in further assisting others lead management to promote her into a public affairs role. In 2005, Sammons began as Legislative Liaison for the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission. Now she provides RSC with research and outreach services.

As needed, Sammons volunteers her interpreting skills, contributes occasional articles to a variety of publications and speaks on issues related to cross-cultural communications and events in Russia and Eastern Europe. She served as president of her Lutheran church for one year and on the Ohio Governor’s Council of People with Disabilities for six years.