The following is a passage from her unfinished book where she wishfully, almost prophetically, discusses her desires and hopes to one day see again.
“I want to see it all again…
I want to see smiles and milk mustaches…
I want to see my son’s blue eyes…
I want to see my husband’s long beautiful eyelashes and his one cute dimple.
I want to see the smile on my doctor’s face when I tell him I can see again.
And only because they all never gave up hope… I’ll never give up.
I will see it all again…” – Randy
In 2004, Randyce suffered another physical setback in the form of a small stroke. As it turned out, it may have been a stroke of good fortune. To this day, doctors don’t know how or why it happened, but after receiving a myriad of medications in conjunction with her stroke recovery, her vision miraculously began coming back in one eye about two months later.
“It was like a dream, only real!” she remembers. “One day I woke up and saw through the glass doors… I saw the dew on the grass… I started seeing things I hadn’t seen in five years, including my husband and son.”
While she embraced her newfound vision, she never lost sight of the many friends and tremendous support she had received from the blind community. In fact, it wasn’t long before she and her husband of 38 years formed a company called AdaptiveVoice that develops, markets and trains people on groundbreaking computer adaptive programs for both the visually impaired and people with other disabilities.
“The idea for AdaptiveVoice, which is a true labor of love, was born when my husband started writing and developing software programs for me while I was blind, so I could use the computer to stay connected… and I loved it,” she says. “Friends would drop by and see me (or hear me) using my computer and say, ‘I want a copy, too.’ These dear friends would become our ‘beta testers’, and with their invaluable feedback, we started the company with four applications. Today, we offer a suite of 19 applications for everything from web browsing, emails, document scanning, speech recognition– you name it.”
Randyce says the goal of AdaptiveVoice is to allow people with all types of disabilities to enjoy the same functionality from their computers as anybody else. “We have fully downloadable programs called CDesk applications for people with computers, and we also offer complete software/hardware packages and the training to go with it. There are also wonderful online tutorials on our website.”
According to Randyce, CDesk is an easy-to-use, high-contrast, large-print and fully speech-enabled desktop solution that puts the computer “back at your fingertips.” The company has partnered with The Chicago Lighthouse over the past two years, and is also closely associated with the Braille Institute, the Low Vision Council (SCCO) the Dayle McIntosh Center, the Center for the Partially Sighted (CPS) and veterans groups. CDesk is now in 26 states and over 100 low vision, blind and disabled resource centers nationwide.
Despite the devastating impact of becoming totally blind and the grueling treatments that would follow, “The experience opened my eyes and my heart to the challenges facing people with low vision and blindness and motivated me to forge a new career path of helping others find freedom through being able to use a computer to its fullest.”
Randyce says that while going blind and suffering a stroke were major blows, she’s grateful they have pointed her on a career path she never could have imagined in the bakery business. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my husband and son, who were like amazingly supportive bookends of love when I needed them most.”
For Randyce, there’s nothing more fulfilling than getting an email or phone call from a visually-impaired or disabled person who now has the freedom to take advantage of all of the tools a computer has to offer.
“We get ‘thank you’ emails all of the time, and they mean so much to us,” she says. “While I didn’t realize it at the time, becoming blind was a gift that enabled me to help others. I will forever be grateful to my family, dearest friends and my doctors for their unwavering support. I’m proud to be nominated for the ‘No Limits’ Mentoring Mission Award, and it would be an honor to help with their tremendous cause in any way I can.”