HAWKINSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Imagine going to sleep being able to see and then waking up the next day blind.
This happened to 32-year-old Timothy Risby. Thanksgiving Day 2005 changed Risby's life forever. A pituitary tumor on his optical nerve caused him to lose his sight.
"It's just like waking up in a foreign country. You don't know to go right, left, forward or back," Risby said. I had to learn to fist give over fear and gain trust, not only with others but with myself, that I had the ability to continue a life."
Now eight years later, he's using his blindness to help others learn what it takes to rejoin the visual world and get jobs. Risby earned his bachelor's degree in information technology. Working with computers is a skill many with sight take for granted, but he doesn't let his blindness discourage him. Instead, he learned to use his ears.
"What this visual aid allows you to do is peek in a world which you feel you're no longer a part of," Risby said.
In 2008, Risby opened his own business calls Advanced Technology Service Community and he's sharing his skills with others. Timothy uses sound and magnification programs to train people with visual impairments to use the computer. With these aids, students can learn how to use the internet, write emails, and type word documents. All these skills are important to get a job.
"As a visually impaired person, you can often be locked out of the world," Kassie Love, a trainee, said. "I was extremely dependent upon other people and I had no idea I could be so self-sufficient and never even have to ask anyone to do anything on a computer."
It's that feeling of helping others rejoin the visual world that keeps Risby going.
"Rather than get up each morning with sympathy for myself, it just gives me a drive to get up each day and work a little harder and harder," Risby said.
And give hope with every keystroke.
Risby has trained dozens of people to use screen reading technology. He says it takes about four weeks to learn the programs and he creates the lessons around the person's career goals.