We’re pleased to announce that Craig Schneider, founder of Charities for the Blind (charitiesfortheblind.org) and owner of Access Technology Solutions in Murrieta, California, is our first “No Limits” Award nominee of 2012.
In 2008, Congress recognized Craig’s charity for its wonderful work when Senator Barbara Boxer said, “Mr. President, today I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing Charities for the Blind, a nonprofit organization in Southern California. This organization continues to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”
Craig wasn’t always blind. He was an extremely driven, talented and very successful building contractor with his own company, only to be diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 29. Unfortunately, the radiation therapy he received left him with radiation ulcers in his stomach and intestines and Craig suffered with this illness until 1991, when he obtained a selective vagotomy (a procedure that severs nerves providing acid for digestion). In 1994, Craig lost 90% of his vision while living in a home contaminated by radon gas. By March of 1999, Craig had lost 100% of vision. This immediately changed his world.
After struggling with what he called “denial and depression” over his situation for a number of years, he discovered his “calling” was to help others and formed a non-profit organization called Charities for the Blind (charitiesfortheblind.org), which offers incredibly advanced, but easy-to-use computers and software for the visually impaired. In 2004, Craig went on to start a “for profit” company helping people with disabilities through the Department of Rehabilitation and Wounded Warriors. He’s helped over 1,000 children and adults so far, and was recognized for his charitable work by Congress in 2008.
Craig’s charity is dedicated to assisting blind and low vision individuals with computer adaptive technology systems, training and counseling. “We want to make the public more aware of the needs of the blind community seeking computer technology assistance,” said Craig, who has helped hundreds of people to achieve new levels of independence, complete their education and start new careers! “When you realize that 70 percent of people with visual impairments are unemployed, the need for computers they can actually use is extremely urgent,” he added.
The following is his story… in his own words.
In July 1983, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After surgery, I was treated with radiation therapy to my lymph nodes in my abdomen. During the radiation treatment, I experienced severe stomach pain and intestinal issues. For about eight years, I had to be hospitalized dozens of times for bleeding ulcers and unimaginable non-stop pain. The only relief came from the morphine cocktails the doctors prescribed for me. Unfortunately, they only worked in the hospital.
In 1991, I underwent surgery to repair the ulcers. Unfortunately, the doctor discovered that I had severe radiation damage to my internal organs that prevented him from completing the surgery. In an effort to remedy some of the hyper acidity conditions that I was experiencing, the doctor performed a selective double vagotomy, a treatment of the stomach. This surgery was a success in eliminating the pain, but left me vulnerable to other side effects.
In 1994, I woke up one morning with 90 percent of my vision gone. I went to the Jules Stein Eye Clinic, and the doctors diagnosed me with optic neuritis. Soon afterwards, I discovered that the home that I resided in had high levels of radon gas seeping into the living quarters from a cracked slab, caused by the Northridge Earthquake earlier in the year.