Deanna Noriega and her dog guide

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is an Independent Living Specialist and facilitator of the Vision Impairment and Blindness Exploration and Support (VIBES) Group at Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, Missouri. She is half Apache, a quarter Swan Creek Chippewa, and has been blind since age eight. DeAnna is a poet, writer, legislative public policy advocate, and Peace Corps veteran.

Deanna first taught seniors while still in college. There was no home teacher in her county, and she was recruited by her Vocational Rehabilitation counselor to assist by giving one-on-one instruction to persons who were newly blinded. She then worked with children and adults, including working at a senior center through the adult education department in Colorado.

According to Lindsey Howald, who interviewed Deanna in 2009, “She has never felt disabled or broken—at least no more than a short person having to use a ladder to reach a high shelf.  Her great-grandmother gave her Quietwater, her Chippewa name, as a nod to her peace. What it meant to her was that ‘a quiet water day is a day when it’s beautiful, and calm, and serene, and you can take a birch bark canoe out on the Great Lakes and not drown. So in essence, she was telling me that I was perfect just as I was. That there’s nothing wrong with me…. And that’s a great gift for a disabled child to be given.'”

Read blog posts by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega on the Visually Impaired: Now What? blog.