Blindskills was founded in 1983 by Carol M. McCarl, an educator from the Oregon School for the Blind who taught mainstreamed visually impaired children in several Oregon counties. Carol realized that all of her students were in public schools in which each was the only visually impaired student. It was clear to her that her students had no visually impaired role models to emulate in their everyday lives or in planning their futures. Carol founded Blindskills to distribute information to young people and their families through a new magazine, LIFEPRINTS. Each person who wrote for or was interviewed for LIFEPRINTS was visually impaired or blind. Subscribers learned about how successful blind people accomplish their work, enjoy recreational activities and pursue fulfilling lives engaged in their communities.
In 1990 Blindskills, Inc., accepted the challenge of publishing DIALOGUE, a quarterly which had been published in Berwyn, Illinois, by Don O. Nold since 1962. For five years, Ms. McCarl produced both LIFEPRINTS and DIALOGUE while teaching transition-aged students at the Oregon School for the Blind. In the fall of 1995, the contents of the two magazines were combined to become DIALOGUE Magazine, currently published in four accessible formats.
Blindskills' mission remains the dissemination of information to blind and visually impaired people and their families through DIALOGUE Magazine, a toll-free helpline, two monthly local support groups open to anyone with an interest in vision loss, and our website.
Blindskills' toll-free number can be reached by anyone in the US or Canada. We assist approximately 2000 callers in a typical year with questions about daily living, technology, services, and other specialized information relating to vision loss. Blindskills staff members also make presentations to service organizations, schools, senior centers and conferences for professionals and physicians in the field of vision impairment. Blindskills also publishes WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE, an audio CD for people who are just beginning to lose vision. The CD includes a companion piece, PROMISES TO KEEP, in print for family and friends, which gives suggestions for assisting someone with low vision.
Founder and Publisher Emeritus
Carol M. McCarl, MS.Ed., is the founder of Blindskills, Inc. She was the founder and editor of LIFEPRINTS and became the editor of DIALOGUE in 1990. Currently DIALOGUE's publisher emeritus, she has 35 years of experience teaching visually impaired students in Connecticut and Oregon.
Marja Byers is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of Blindskills.
Marja took over the role of Executive Director in November 2014. After a 32 year hospital career, primarily in obstetrics, sudden vision loss took her career in a different direction. In April 2013 she started work as an Office/Research Assistant at Blindskills.
"Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over she became a butterfly."
B. T. Kimbrough is responsible for the preparation of Dialogue Magazine, now in its 50th year of continuous publication. Kimbrough has 35 years of management experience in broadcasting, publishing, and assistive technology, and succeeded Blindskills Founder Carol M. McCarl as the organization's Executive Director in June of 2007.
Phyllis Schmidt has the crucial assignment of dealing with our voluminous mail. She frequently serves as a reader so that the Founder and Executive Director can quickly decide the proper disposition of each piece of mail we receive. Phyllis also makes certain that those much appreciated and necessary donations are promptly acknowledged with a heartfelt "Thank You!"
Marketing / Fundraising / Webmaster
Marty Sobo serves on the Board of Directors helping with the important tasks of marketing, fundraising and updating this website.
Cathy Bickerdike, Patty Geil, Paula Kimbrough, Melanie Lindquist, Judy Mears, Wayne Schmidt,
Tom Byers, Elaine, and Noel Higgins, Diana and Neil Kliewer, Carol Locke, Terry Nichols, Donna Stone