Data for stories for the Blind History Lady have come from many sources, Census data, news, periodicals and magazine articles, interviews, files from blind consumer organizations, government records, books, and much more. Facts have been double checked as much as possible. I have tried to remove the emotional reaction to blindness and take into consideration the times that the subjects lived in as much as the source of the information.
Much of the history of the blind has been lost to us due to lack of storage, floods, fires and a lack of descendants to keep alive the memories, talents and accomplishments of their blind ancestors to lead normal, everyday lives. A larger portion of blind persons, discouraged to have children of their own, left fewer today to tell their story. The many blind persons who lived and died in poverty, often not even leaving a marked grave to visit, have passed without leaving a trace in this world to follow.
I have endeavored to find out as much as possible regarding the lives of the traceable blind people of my stories, know how they lived and the sometimes, extraordinary efforts it took to make it in the world as an ordinary citizen. The obstacles that they overcame, many times were very different than the sighted world around them recognized. Few realized that they, the sighted were placing barriers through their efforts to help the blind.
What you are saying about The Blind History Lady
September 5, 2021
Ms. Peggy Chong
Having heard the phrase, “Blind History Lady,” for some time, it was wonderful, Peggy, to have you come to life at our 2021 State Annual Iowa Council of the United Blind Conference and Convention.
On behalf of the Iowa Council of the United Blind, thank you for sharing your interest and ongoing pursuit of the biographies of person who are blind. Thomas Schall’s story was very interesting. Too often, we in the current generation forget that we are standing and building on the shoulders of so many who preceded us. We even lose track of the more recent chapters, such as Aaron Cannon’s long road pursuing attendance at Palmer Chiropractic starting in 2004 Thank you for reminding us to of success for all persons who are blind through a favorable Iowa Supreme Court decision in his case in 2014. Beyond sharing one story, you made us aware that we as blind persons have a great deal of history to explore and, hopefully, energized some of us to do just that. Thank you for your inspiration.
Carrie Chapman, President
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Ruth Sager on September 12, 2019
Ms. Peggy Chong “The Blind History Lady” spoke on the NFB Senior Division nationwide conference call in June. She explained how she got started in researching information about the lives of known blind people first, in her state and then, across the country. She spoke about some of the people she met through her research and found their stories most engrossing. Blind people who were challenged and did not except the idea that they couldn’t pursue work, having families, and remaining vibrant members in their communities. Through much hard work, an indominable spirit of “can-do,” they persevered taking advantage of every opportunity and creating some when none seemed apparently forthcoming.
These stories inspire us and cause us to reflect on how lucky we are today that we had blind brothers and sisters who were willing to take risks and for the most part, single-handedly create their own successes. Peggy does relate how, blind people kept in touch with one another and did whatever they could to help each other. This should remind us, we never do anything completely on our own—we are always indebted to those unknown people who went before us.
Peggy also spoke at our annual business meeting of the NFB Senior Division. She shared some of the challenges in researching people when very little was written about them. The schools for the blind wrote about the sighted personnel and teachers but neglected much information about their students. Reading through old copies of local newspapers and other archival documents she can sometimes glimpse a picture of someone’s life often through the eyes of relatives and children or grandchildren. She noted that we must continue to learn about these blind friends from the past for they truly are our history.
The audience was most attentive and I hope will be able to furnish Ms. Chong with some new leads or help her solve some mysteries about those blind people she has found so very little information about. We fully support this much-needed work she is endeavoring to put forth on the ordarary lives of blind men and women living ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances.
President, NFB Senior Division
Stan Kats In February 2018:
What a fine pursuit: Peggy Chong has devoted great efforts to honoring those who lost their sight in various ways, and yet moved forward with their lives. She highlights many publications and individuals involved with this inspiring subject. Some of these individuals, as described in this YouTube defended their nation, and were injured in the process. Keep up the goodwork Peggy. Comment written by Stan S. Katz, author of the novel The Emperor and the Spy: The Secret Alliance to Prevent World War Two, and the illustrated biography about Prince Tokugawa entitled: The Art of Peace.
Jeff Blair on April 15, 2017 :
“Pauline Gomez, The Little Teacher With The Big Heart” is the latest book written by Peggy Chong, the Blind History Lady. Every one of these books is a gem, a compelling and beautiful tribute to blind people who have done amazing things. Every one of these books is an inspiration whether you are blind or sighted.”
Linda Waldron on Oct. 14, 2016 :
“Very interesting read, a lot of things I never thought about being a sighted person myself. I recommend reading this well written book.”
I Look forward to hearing from more of you.
Currently, Peggy Chong lives in Aurora Colorado where she is actively working on a project to preserve the blind history of Colorado dating back to the early 1900’s. She is active in the Heather Gardens Writers Club and The Friends of the Colorado Talking Book Library.
She has been an active part of the blind community for more than forty years. Determined to imbue the service delivery system for the blind with a more positive and forward-looking philosophy, Peggy joined with other blind people in Minneapolis, Minnesota to establish Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND, Inc.), a training center for the blind designed to encourage its students to achieve self-sufficient and productive lives. In 1985, Peggy Chong accepted the position of President of the Board of BLIND, Inc., a position she held for ten years. During that time, she worked with many students of all ages and varying levels of vision, encouraging them to learn the alternative nonvisual techniques of blindness and fueling their imaginations to dream of a life where each of them could live and work in their communities on a basis of equality with their sighted peers. She also helped many of them to make intelligent decisions about their vision–when it would be helpful and when it would hinder progress toward independence.
After moving to Baltimore Maryland in 1997, Peggy secured a position with BISM (Blind Industries and Services of Maryland) as an outreach/instructor. In 1998, Peggy left BISM accepting a position with the Job Opportunities for the Blind program at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. For more than a year, she led a succession of intensive two-week training sessions designed to teach computer and other important job-readiness skills to blind individuals seeking employment. She also worked individually with each job candidate to refine the job search according to the unique needs of each, and she worked with numerous employers to ensure that the characteristic of blindness was accurately perceived and the blind job applicant treated fairly. When a job was offered to any of her students, she provided assistance before and after securing the job to ensure that each of them had the tools needed to succeed in the new position. Sometimes this involved connecting her student with other blind persons doing that same job somewhere in the United States. At other times, she provided information and advice about new, non-traditional techniques that could be used to perform the job successfully.
Later, Peggy served for three years as the National Program Manager for NFB-NEWSLINE®, out of the Baltimore, MD office of the National Federation of the Blind. In this position, she formed valuable relationships with national and local newspapers, community-based service delivery organizations and rehabilitation programs, and literally thousands of blind men and women–many of them newly-blind–across the country.
After moving to Iowa in 2002, she became a private contractor providing consulting services and employment training to governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations. Her work involved the dissemination of job-search, résumé creation and distribution services designed to help individuals–with or without disabilities–to secure competitive employment. She also taught independent travel to the Blind. She also served as the NFB-NEWSLINE Coordinator for the state of Iowa for several years.
In Iowa, Peggy led the Saturday School program for blind children for almost ten years. Each month she designed programs that provided real-life, hands-on programs for the blind children and their families. Programs included a trip to the airport to “see” the travel process. The children were able to walk through security and actually touch everything, even the security devices that the sighted see but the blind were never able to touch because of security reasons.
When the blind children were old enough where requirements for other organizations in which they were participating required community service, a series of Saturday School practice sessions preceded a soup supper for guests. The blind children learned how to walk into new settings, offer to help with confidence in every task and learned the techniques to execute them without worrying their service leaders.
Because of her curiosity, she has been able to help set up support networks for other blind persons. She had provided ideas and suggestions to build a different approach or alternative view on problems, challenges and dreams for the future for many blind persons.
For more than forty years, Peggy has been active in a variety of community organizations: the National Federation of the Blind, the American Cancer society, the Hawthorn Area Community Council, the Cooperating Fund Drive, Iowa and Albuquerque Genealogical Societies, Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Iowa Shares and Oasis of Albuquerque.