Photo of Clovernook Center Employee, Deanna and her guide dog, Mambo

October 13, 2021

Meet Deanna, bindery associate at Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired. Deanna began her career at Clovernook Center in January 2013, and has had several roles with the organization since she started. Deanna began as a receptionist for our organization, but due to a medical condition that left her with a temporary paralyzed vocal cord, she transitioned to her current role as a bindery associate.

What started out as a part-time position turned to full-time when Clovernook Center’s Braille Printing House saw an increase in production. Deanna likes her new work as she says it keeps her busy and moving all day long as she assembles books for the National Library Service. Because Deanna reads braille, she also enjoys learning about the books she is assembling. Learning about different books by reading a description allows her to get an idea of what to read next.

Deanna learned braille in her early 20’s when her eyes began to worsen due to Glaucoma, a condition she’s battled since birth. Originally diagnosed as being legally blind, in Deanna’s early years, she could read print. As her vision decreased over time, learning braille became very important to her. She took braille classes and then finished learning at home through a self-taught program offered by the Hadley School for the Blind. The class was difficult, but Deanna felt it was important to be able to read and write in braille in case she was to ever go completely blind.

While braille is her first choice to enjoy literature, she can also use her magnifier or other adaptive equipment to read print. However, struggling to read sometimes takes away the peaceful feeling of letting your mind really sink into the adventure of a good book. By reading braille, Deanna feels like she is able to give the book more attention and not get as distracted when reading. For Deanna, audiobooks are just not the same. “It is magical to have a book in your hand,” she says.

When Deanna is not at work, you might find her at the Cincinnati Zoo, taking walks on nature trails and going out for dinner with friends and family. Her favorite restaurant currently is BJ’s. She loves their white cheddar mashed potatoes and their world-famous Pizookies (a warm and gooey cookie topped with signature ice cream).

Deanna is president of the Ohio Association of Guide Dog Users and secretary of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni Board. The Ohio Association of Guide Dog Users has been working over the past year to update service animal laws, as the language is old and needs to be aligned with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. This has been a long process but, Deanna says they are making progress.

Thanks to the advocacy completed by the groups that Deanna is involved with, she is able to do things that ten years ago she could only dream of. This includes enjoying the zoo with her guide dog, Mambo. Not only is she a zoo member who visits monthly, Mambo is permitted to go along with her to each exhibit including ones that were previously off-limits, like the gorilla exhibit. Thanks to updated regulations and advocacy, Deanna can call zoo staff to sit with Mambo while she enjoys visiting with the gorillas.

We are very fortunate to have Deanna at Clovernook Center and get a bonus of having her guide dog, Mambo, with us every day, too! If you are ever lucky enough to visit Mambo at Clovernook Center –he really likes dog treats. Just remember to ask Deanna first as he could be working to guide her!

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