Discovering that Elizabeth’s congenital eye condition rendered her completely blind, a doctor told her parents to institutionalize her when she was six weeks old; she would be “retarded and uneducable.” Her parents ignored this advice, believing in the ability of mind and spirit to approach life with meaning and wonder. By fifth grade, before mainstreaming laws were in place, Elizabeth entered a normal school classroom after several years in blind and visually impaired classes. This is why Elizabeth considers mentoring blind youth among her most important projects, because even today, few professional role models for students with disabilities are available.
Elizabeth graduated from high school when she was 16; primarily because she was tired of the bullying she experienced all throughout school and decided to get out as soon as she could, no matter how much work that would take. Then she took three years to double major with honors as an undergraduate in French and communications. Afterwards, she earned an M.A. in Journalism at The Ohio State University. She developed her international interests by mastering several languages and spending an exchange year in Switzerland, and immediately after the end of her education, by becoming 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 US 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, Elizabeth began as Legislative Liaison for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities(OOD). Since 2011, she has provided OOD with writing, research, and outreach services as a program administrator.
As needed, Elizabeth 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. She is also an AFB CareerConnect mentor.
An avid reader, Elizabeth has chaired several book clubs over the years. Her passionate literature recommendations alternately amuse and surprise her friends and colleagues. She has completed her own first novel, “With Best Intent”, and received a grant towards its publication from the Ohio Arts Council in 2013. She writes a literary blog, Windows of Thought.
Elizabeth is peacefully married and has one teen daughter, Sophia. She still lets her sense of wonder guide her to beauty along her path, which makes the difference between the ordinary and the miraculous.
Read blog posts by Elizabeth Sammons on the Visually Impaired: Now What? blog.