Albert Rizzi was Executive Director of a thriving preschool and afterschool program in the South Bronx. He had made a successful career change from marketing to early childhood education. Now his sights were set on starting a charter school where he would continue working on behalf of the underserved, under-resourced children and families to whom he had dedicated his life.
An unexpected development stopped this plan in its tracks. Albert was hospitalized, suffering from a dangerous strain of fungal meningitis that attacked his optic nerve. In January 2006, he woke up completely blind.
Faced with this new way of seeing, Albert drew on the qualities he had brought to his work in education—persistence, optimism, energy, drive, and an irrepressible urge to reach out and bring others into a world of hope and opportunity. Coming back from death’s door, he made remarkable progress at breakneck speed.
Nevertheless, being blind and learning to operate in the sighted world often was challenging, frustrating, and disturbing. Particularly distressing was the discomfort that other people seemed to feel in his presence. He became increasingly committed to dispelling fears and misconceptions about blindness and building awareness that loss of sight brings the opportunity to experience the world in new and different ways and to call upon the best in oneself and others.
Albert also became acutely aware of the limitations imposed upon him and his peers from the disability community due to the failure of governments and organizations to use current and cutting-edge technologies, ignoring legislation designed to ensure that computer-based communication and information systems are accessible to people who are blind or print disabled. Despite the existence of ever-advancing technologies, Albert daily and repeatedly encountered, and continues to encounter, websites, mobile apps, software programs and digital media that continue to be “disabled” to people who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability.
My Blind Spot is becoming a leader in the global quest to ensure that people with disabilities can take their place alongside their nondisabled peers as valued, productive, contributing citizens.
Albert has dedicated himself to shifting perspectives nationally. He talks vehemently and repeatedly, to anyone who is willing to listen. He has touched, and continues to touch, the lives of thousands of people of all ages through his national outreach. He is often seen on local, national, and international media, spreading his message of hope and a vision of a world that sees the disability community as capable, contributing participants in all aspects of society.
To advance his goals, Albert founded My Blind Spot, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accessibility, education, and advocacy. His entrepreneurial abilities and outgoing disposition and positive outlook helped him garner support and assemble a team notable for its diversity and commitment. An educational program was developed and a website established. My Blind Spot began working with governmental agencies, organizations, and schools to achieve the high degree of accessibility that is possible through technology and mandated by law, yet all too seldom realized in practice.
Some recent major initiatives include the following.
Our focus on accessibility does not stop with “just” developing employment opportunities, or working with governmental agencies, or introducing organizations to programmatic solutions around virtual access, or partnering with organizations to ensure that people can independently manage their finances. My Blind Spot considers educating and advocating for virtual accessibility as a nonnegotiable, and works tirelessly to infuse accessibility into the DNA and corporate culture of our clients. We foster appreciation for the ability of people who are blind and print disabled while raising the bar of expectation and opportunity.