Ashley Ezell was born with a rare eye disease, called Stargardt macular degeneration, which causes progressive vision loss. She was first diagnosed when she was 12 years old. It wasn’t long after that she was declared to be legally blind. Regardless of her condition, Ezell was determined to achieve her goal of becoming a teacher. Five years ago she joined the teaching staff at St. Francis Xavier School in North Central Phoenix. For the last two years, she has taught the fourth grade. In order to navigate around the classroom, she has learned the layout of the school and of her room. As for her students, she gets to know their voices, their shapes, and even the way they move. A fellow fourth-grade teacher introduced Ashley to IrisVision. When she put them on she was able to clearly see somebody standing in the courtyard from the upper balcony. Normally, Ashley’s vision is 2200/40, with the headset her vision is 20/30. “I don’t think I ever saw that well, even as a child,” Ashley says. When standing in front of the large dry-erase white board, she would often have to be right up against it, facing forward, to read what is written on it. “I was blocking the students’ view and moving all around to read it. Now I can stand in the back of the room and still see the board,” Ezell explains. The community wanted to get involved to help pay for Ashley’s IrisVsion, including the school’s girl scout troop who donated money from their cookie sales. Her students were excited to help their teacher. When they saw Ashley wearing the unit, they thought it “looked really cool.” But they were astonished to discover how well she could see with them on. Her students say they think it has been a life-changer for her, it really helps her be a great teacher.
ASHLEY EZELL4TH GRADE TEACHER STARGARDT MACULAR DEGENERATION