Posted by Terry Alexander - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Severe weather can be frightening for all of us, but what if you can't see what's coming? That's the reality for the vision-impaired.
When you are blind you don't get to experience the beauty that our weather sometimes brings. But Rhonda Spear is ok with that. It's when the weather turns nasty that her lack of sight makes her nervous. Not knowing what's coming can put her in danger.
"I'm as independent as I can be. I know my limitations, but I try to overcome them as best as I can," said Rhonda.
Born without eyesight, Rhonda has adapted life in the dark.
She can read just fine from her braille bible, using the raised dots on the paper instead of the printed word. She has a wind chime to let her know the air is working in her apartment, and an old-fashioned trick to keep time.
Add a NBC12 first warning NOAA weather radio to Rhonda's bag of tricks. She takes it to work each day, and sleeps with it at her bedside. The first day she brought it to work, the alarm went off.
"And everyone wondered 'What was that?' And I knew what it was so I turned on the radio and learned it was a tornado watch until 3 p.m. that day," she said. "I was going around telling everybody else!"
And that's an empowering experience for someone who sometimes feels at a disadvantage in a sighted world. She can't see storms coming with her eyes. But the weather radio acts as a very powerful set of ears.
"Visually impaired people need to get one of these because of it's usefulness. It's already proved useful to me," said Rhonda.
And Rhonda isn't alone, more than 2000 central Virginians have purchased these radios, which are programmable for your specific city or county. Meaning you won't hear an alarm unless your area is affected.
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