Welcome to the second installment of a series that I’m calling: “More than Meets the Eye.” Each week of the summer (and possibly into the fall and winter months, depending on the number of responses I receive), I am honored to share with you interviews from members of the disability community.
The goal of this project is to raise awareness about the diversity of the disability community. The words and ideas expressed in the interviews belong to the participants, not me. This project is welcome and affirming to all members of the disability community. By sharing our stories, we can develop empathy and understanding for one another as we all travel throughout the journey of life.
Last week, we spoke with Carolyn McGhee (Link: Blind with a Vision). This week, we are chatting with Jo Elizabeth Pinto. She is an award-winning author as well as a proud mother. You can find more information about her books at http://www.brightsideauthor.com
You can also follow J.E. Pinto on Facebook at: Facebook at https://m.facebook.com/authorjepinto/
Interview with Award Winning Author, Jo Elizabeth Pinto
Name: Jo Elizabeth Pinto
Approximate Age: I’m middle-aged, or maybe a little beyond. Let’s just say, the Internet wasn’t mainstream the first time I graduated from college, and we didn’t have computers in our dorm rooms. 😊
Could you share a little bit about your disability? In what ways to you identify as a member of the disability community?
I’m totally blind, which is pretty obvious to anyone who looks at me. I also have several autoimmune diseases that affect my stamina and concentration. Those disabilities are much more difficult for outside observers to spot. I wish people wouldn’t be so quick to judge what a disability looks like. Sometimes my fibromyalgia, for example, may be a lot more debilitating than my blindness is.
What do you think people see when they look at you?
I’m fairly sure most people can tell I’m blind, since I travel with a cane or a guide dog. I’m half white and half Spanish, but I don’t think that’s particularly evident to those who don’t know what to look for, which is a little sad. Both parts of my heritage are important to me.
What do you wish people would see when they look at you? What parts of your identity are most important about yourself?
I guess if I could wear my heart on my sleeve, I would want people to know that I’m reliable, creative, and kind. Unfortunately, first impressions don’t reveal that sort of information, and disability often stops people from investigating beyond their first glance.
What common misconceptions do people often have about you or your disability? What do you wish people understood about your disability?
I really wish people understood that blindness isn’t something to be afraid of. It changes a few logistics about how life works, but it doesn’t in itself make people physically needy, mentally slow, or overly unhappy. People who are blind pursue meaningful careers, raise children, engage in hobbies, and live full lives at all ages.
What makes you happy? What are your passions or your joys in life? Can you share a little bit about your big picture?
My husband and I are raising a twelve-year-old girl who, though she has her moments of angst, fills the world with joy and wonder for me. I also like to bake, grow flowers, and listen to music.
Do you have a business, book, website, or creative project that you would like to talk about? Feel free to share about what brings you joy! Are you working on something right now that you’re really excited about?
My award-winning novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” follows a group of young men as they navigate their lives in the projects and beyond. The book examines the importance of mentoring and the concept that we all have the power and the responsibility to be positive forces of change in the world.
My nonfiction book, “Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark,” is made up of a series of short, mostly lighthearted vignettes that talk about some of my adventures as a blind mom. The stories are meant to show that the ups and downs of parenting are universal, with or without a disability.
Information about both books can be found on my Web site at https://www.brightsideauthor.com
My name is Rebecca and I blog about faith, books, and disability awareness. Please subscribe by typing your email into the box labeled subscribe so that you never miss a post! I am also the of the Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse and The United Methodist Church and Disability.