Post Title – Empish J. Thomas: Blogger, Disability Advocate and Entrepreneur .
It is my great pleasure to introduce my guest Empish J. Thomas to my readers through my November Friday Friends column. I met her several years ago since we both volunteer our writing and experiences at VisionAware, an outreach of the American Printing House (APH) for the Blind. When she started a personal blog this year, I subscribed, and have learned so much. I have been looking forward to introducing her to you for quite a while now. So, let’s get started!
What is your background?
My career background is in the non-profit arena. I started working specifically with non-profits that helped the disabled community back in 2000. This decision was twofold because I had a passion for my community and wanted to use my talents and skills to assist others. But I also wanted to learn and help myself as a newly disabled person. Today, I am no longer newly disabled but still see the value of helping my community. I am a freelance writer and blogger with a niche’ in writing about the blind and visually impaired. I believe that the disabled should tell their own stories.
What interests and hobbies do you pursue?
My interest and hobbies are watching audio described movies and reading books. I attend two book clubs; one is for people who are blind and one is not.
What type of work do you do?
I work part-time as a freelance blogger for a vision rehab center. I write articles to help people who are visually impaired, as well as their sighted friends, family, or others in the community. Most of my blog posts are how-to’s and educational pieces that teach and share knowledge so that the reader can have a better life as they learn to deal with their disability.
How do you approach a new project? What is the typical process?
When I get a new writing assignment I first work on the title as it drives the article and helps me stay on track. It might not be the final title but I get a good working one going and then I start doing my research on the topic. I read articles, blog posts, and other materials online as background research. I might also have conversations with experts and/or professionals for more information. After that, I start writing the piece. I check my word count from time to time to stay within the limits given. I do some editing where needed. Next, I add my hyperlinks to the piece. Read through the whole thing a couple of times. Go back and polish up that title and then submit.
What is the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial journey?
Not having enough time to get everything done I want in a day. Sometimes I overbook myself and can be over-ambitious; putting too much on my plate in a given day.
What is the easiest part of your entrepreneurial journey?
The ability to work from home because it fits my personality and lifestyle. I love the flexibility of my schedule.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day starts at about 7 am or so. My morning routine is shower, breakfast, and exercise. Then I get to work in my home office. I usually have already put a daily agenda together of what I will be working on or if not, I will plan my day from my ever-flowing list of things to do. I take a lunch break at about noon. Then come back and work some more until about 3 or 4 pm. Then I take a nap or relax and read until dinner.
How have your other jobs in life contributed to your life as an entrepreneur?
My other jobs assisted me because I was always writing in some kind of way. Whether it was the company newsletter, email blast, blog, etc. I also learned how to interact with all kinds of people in previous positions and use that when doing research, making business calls, or doing interviews.
What is the one thing you miss during the Pandemic lockdown?
Going to the movie theater since I love movies so much. I have had to adjust and move toward streaming and DVDs for the time being.
What do you feel the proudest of achieving?
Wow, this is a good question and a hard one to answer because I can think of a couple of things like my college graduation, purchasing my home, dealing with my disability, continuing to work in my field, launching my own website and blog this year. But if I had to select just one it would be that with God’s help, I have been able to make a life for myself. I have taken lemons and made lemonade. When I went blind in my twenties, I had no idea of what kind of life or future I would have. I am very proud of how things have turned out and I have little to no regrets. My life is full, rich, and rewarding.
Empish JeAnne Thomas Career Biography
Summary-updated December 2019
From the time I was a small child, I have always been intrigued by the written word. From checking out children’s books at my local library to reading the newspaper out loud to my parents, words have always moved and compelled me.
There is a Nigerian proverb “Don’t let the lion tell the giraffe’s story that speaks to my career as a journalist and disability advocate. I had noticed the negative and sometimes incorrect portrayal of the disabled in the news media and decided to be proactive in changing that image. I believe that language is powerful and that people with disabilities must tell their own story.
Empish has spent nearly 20 years working in the disability /non-profit community. She began this career journey by volunteering to write and edit a newsletter that blossomed into a paid position providing information and resources to people with disabilities. At the same time, she worked as an AmeriCorps member as a peer supporter and advocate. Wanting to use her journalism degree, Empish launched her freelance writing career. She used her writing skills to make a difference and to portray the disabled in a more positive light than what is traditionally seen in news media. This passion and journalism experience landed Empish a column in Dialogue Magazine writing career profiles on the visually-impaired lasting 17 years.
Besides freelance writing, Empish has done sub-contract work in the disability community. Her work consisted of facilitating a book club for the blind, educating disabled women on breast cancer, participating in accessible cell phone research; and updating a community calendar for NFB-Newsline.
In Addition, Empish worked for nearly 10 years at the Center for the Visually Impaired, a non-profit that provides rehabilitation training and support for people experiencing vision loss, as their public education Manager. In her role, she managed CVI’s Sight-seeing blog and over 15 volunteers for the speaker’s bureau. She also organized tours, exhibits, presentations, and speaking engagements.
In 2013 Empish entered the blogosphere by becoming a peer advisor and blogger for VisionAware.org. On this site, Empish lends her professional and personal experience to people experiencing vision loss and also blogs about her life as a blind person.
In her spare time, Empish lends her personal and professional opinion by doing consulting and public speaking. For many years, she has participated in various research projects with the VA Hospital, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, The Paciello Group, and other organizations. She has also provided useful feedback to authors writing books with a disability theme. She has been a keynote speaker and panelist for various disability conferences, seminars, and workshops. All these opportunities have allowed Empish to weigh in on issues that directly affect the disability community by providing knowledge, experience, and resources.
When Empish is not working she uses all her writing and career talents to mentor writers who are visually impaired giving encouraging instruction, guidance, and mutual support. She also actively participates in her local book club and has facilitated the book discussion for the GLASS Atlanta Library.
In the past, she has been a volunteer with CareerConnect interacting via e-mail with others who are interested in pursuing a journalism career. She volunteered, for 3 years, as the producer and host of the Eye on Blindness Show, sponsored by the Georgia area Radio Reading Service (GaRRS). The monthly interview-style show featured a special guest providing information on a variety of topics such as travel, employment, sports, health, and politics.
To further connect with Empish, follow the links to her social media sites: