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Blind professor helps others see another side to disabilities

Steve Kuusisto
Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Earlier in his career as a writer and college professor, Steve Kuusisto lost his job in a round of budget cuts. Blind since birth, Kuusisto contacted an agency that served people with impaired vision to ask for help transitioning to a new academic position.

Their advice to him: "There's a factory down the road that makes plastic lemons. They hire blind people."

Kuusisto managed to avoid the plastic lemon factory and create an impressive career as an author, educator, and advocate for people with disabilities, a path that recently led him to The University of Iowa. He shares the above story to illustrate a point: sometimes even those working to help people with disabilities consign the disabled person to a second-class, defective status.

That thinking is something Kuusisto is working to change.


Related content

Photo feature: Kuusisto and new guide dog Nira's first day of class

Audio slide show: Kuusisto and Nira get acquainted with UI campus, each other


When he moved to Iowa City to begin postdoctoral work in 1999, Bahri Karacay wondered at times whether the Turkish music of his childhood would have a place in the middle of the Heartland.

As it turned out, Karacay found musical collaborators at The University of Iowa. His band, Turkana, will be among the participants of this year's Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival, which will be held Sunday, Feb. 24, from noon to 5 p.m. in the University of Iowa Field House.




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  • UI salt supplies running low due to higher than normal snowfall
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  • Functional immune cells derived from embryonic stem cells

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  • Wolff named Carver College of Medicine associate dean for diversity
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Bill Casey
Bill Casey
Read all about it: Bill Casey loves his job. He is completing his 32nd year as publisher of the Daily Iowan, the University's student-produced newspaper, and he enjoys his interaction with students. Under Casey's watch, the DI has won numerous awards and has become a fixture at students' doors. Casey talks with fyi about the challenges facing newspapers, his take on fan behavior toward college athletics, and what drove him to enter the journalism business.




“It's not just that they lose vision. They paid somebody [who they perceive] took their vision away.”

Christine Sindt
(Red Orbit, Feb. 3)

More quotes...

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Tom Walz

Tom Walz

Helping people with disabilities find niche



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