Connecting to Family and Peers, with Help from Hadley

Keith Hodder

Connecticut resident Keith Hodder loves to read and devours books across a wide range of genres including drama, mystery, romance, and Westerns. The list of books Keith wants to read is very long because his passion for books is relatively new. When regular print became too taxing on his eyes, he discovered audio books and was soon hooked.

Keith brings his love of reading to Hadley’s Book Nook discussion group. It is a fantastic source for book recommendations and a great opportunity to connect with others who share this hobby. However, Keith’s interests don’t stop there. An active walker who aims to cover a couple of miles a day, he joins in the monthly Get Up and Go discussion; and he also participates in Travel Talk, Embracing Braille, Tech It Out, and Resource Roundtable. “I raise my hand. I get involved,” Keith declares. “Every discussion group has been inspiring. It is interesting to hear what people are doing and where they are going.” He greatly enjoys sharing with other Hadley community members from across the country and around the world.

Keith first contacted Hadley to learn braille so he could continue playing card games with his grandchildren. The Connecticut Board of Education Services for the Blind directed him to Hadley, and he was one of the first to enroll in the Braille for Everyday Use series Hadley launched in 2021. He moved quickly through the alphabet and numbers and is delighted that he can now connect with his grandkids, ages 11, 9 and 6, in this fun way.

Besides braille, Keith has picked up useful tips on a wide range of topics, from labeling and grooming to using a cane and enjoying hobbies from Hadley workshops. “I am amazed by some of the things I learned. Hadley helped me change the way I do things. It is a tremendous tool and has helped and enriched me in all kinds of ways.” Hadley’s “always interesting” podcasts are another valued resource. He just wishes he knew about Hadley earlier. “I could have used this information years and years ago. People need to have this stuff.”

Keith, now 65, began experiencing vision issues in his teens. The initial diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa was later revised to Usher’s Syndrome II, which includes loss of both vision and hearing. The progression was slow in the early years, but he was considered legally blind by 2009. In 2015, he reluctantly retired from the manufacturing company where he worked for more than 35 years. Today, his sight is limited to light and shadows.

Keith was involved in the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, a non-profit that funds research to find treatments for eye disease, so he understands the importance of charitable giving. He is grateful to supporters for making Hadley’s wide range of programming possible. “I can’t thank donors enough for their commitment to Hadley. Their generosity is going to a good cause and is being used to inform, teach and show people, like me, how to navigate with vision loss.”