Watertown man teaches braille, talks blindness

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - While you’re shopping for produce or grabbing lunch at the downtown farmers market in Watertown, you can now pick up a new skill.

Over the past month, a city man has been offering braille lessons.

After losing his sight to “retinitis pigmentosa” at the age of 37, the first thing Timothy Monaghan did was attend a school for the blind. Now, at the age of 64, he’s taken on the role of teacher himself by offering braille lessons and talks on blindness to passers-by at the farmers market.

“I just come every Wednesday thinking I might be able to be a positive figure in somebody’s life - and I have been,” Monaghan told a reporter.

Through his lessons, Monaghan aims to get rid of misconceptions regarding blindness. Particularly the idea that someone has to be completely visionless in order to be considered blind.

“There are different levels of blindness. Some see shadows, some can’t. Some see just light. Some can see a little bit but not be able to read,” he said.

Monaghan is attracting interest.

“I think it’s really cool to learn about something that not a lot of people know. It spreads awareness and acceptance of blindness,” said Riley St. Joseph, who stopped to learn a little of what Monaghan was teaching.

Monaghan also hopes to be a resource for people within Watertown’s blind community that may need lessons to live independently. He recalled one instance in which he spoke to a 14 year old who was gradually losing her eyesight. He’s always ready with a tip.

“Don’t be scared, there is help and life goes on. You can learn a new, different way of doing things and still have a very productive life,” he said.

Weather permitting, Monaghan says he’ll be making weekly appearances at the farmer’s market.

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