Gina Peoples is a Rehabilitation Case Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation field office in Decatur, Il. This position allows Gina, who is Legally Blind, to assist with coordinating services for individuals with disabilities so that they may achieve successful employment, something Gina knows a lot about.
Gina was born with Ocular Albinism, caused by a significant lack of pigmentation in the Iris which can significantly impact the ability to see. Growing up, Gina reported that her blindness impaired many factors of her life, including school, driving and employment. Says Gina, "I wasn't raised to ask for much help. I always just tried to handle these tasks on my own".
In 2006, Gina and her husband moved to Decatur, Il,. She began working as a Customer Service Representative at a call center but was experiencing significant complications with her vision. A short time later she was diagnosed with another vision related disability; Diabetic Retinopathy. Says Gina, "I was scared and didn't know what I would do if I lost my vision permanently. In order to keep my job, I had to find something or someone that would help me see the computer better. "
Not one to ask for assistance, Gina went on her own to a medical supply store to search for some type of magnification device. The store didn't have the technology Gina needed but they did refer Gina to contact Rich Adams of Soyland Access to Independent Living (SAIL) in Decatur, Il. That contact helped to turn Gina's life around. Says Gina, "Rich is completely blind and has a successful career and is as happy and independent as a sighted person. After meeting him and seeing him in action, I knew I could be as successful as I chose to be regardless of how much vision I had, or didn't have".
Rich referred Gina to DRS's Bureau of Blind Services (BBS). BBS counselor Dave Jackson assisted Gina in obtaining magnification devices, such as zoom text, that enabled Gina to be more independent at home and at work.
Gina also began working with Counselor Janet Ernst, who saw great potential for Gina to further her academic training. Says Janet, "I knew Gina had the ability to be anything she wanted, she just needed a chance. She had spoken to me about her goals of wanting to go to college but just didn't think that it was possible. I let her know it most definitely was." Through the assistance of DRS, Gina was able to complete her Associates Degree and graduate with a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average.
Gina's career search became realized when she was hired by the State of Illinois as a Rehabilitation Case Coordinator. Says Gina, "I've always had a passion for inspiring people to see the positives in their lives and for helping them to discover their hidden potentials. Thanks to the assistance of DRS my passion is now my job. I feel like I can now pay it forward to others".
To learn more, call 1-877-761-9780 Voice, 1-866-264-2149 TTY, (312) 957-4881 VP, or read about DRS's Services. Refer yourself or someone else for services using the online Rehabilitation Services Web Referral.