Mary Hiland has been blind for most of her life. She had normal vision until she was in the second grade. At age 18, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and was declared legally blind. She attended the Ohio State University as a partially sighted student and earned her BS in Social Work. She married, had two children, and now has five granddaughters. Her four-legged partner is Dora, her fifth dog from The Seeing Eye.
Now totally blind, Ms Hiland has a passion for educating people of all ages about communicating with individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Through Seeing It My Way, she brings enlightenment to those who mistakenly think that people who are blind live in a world of darkness. “We do all the same things you do,” she says, “maybe in just a little different way.”
Mary Hiland is the recently retired Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio. She held this position from August, 2006 until December 31, 2011. Before that, she was the Director of Volunteers, for over 21 years at the radio reading service in Columbus. Her other vocations include full time mother, dance teacher, and free lance writer. She has been published in Red Book Magazine and in Chicken Soup for the Parents’ Soul. Mary’s passions include cross country skiing, tandem bicycling, hiking, public speaking, classical music, her five granddaughters, her Seeing Eye dog, Dora, and ballroom dancing.
Mary carried the Olympic torch when it came through Columbus in 2001, started the Toastmasters Club in Gahanna, started the Red Hat society in Gahanna, is a member of the Transition Network, and is an active member of Stonybrook Church. In 2015, she received the first “Gahanna Toastmaster’s Lifetime Achievement” award.
Mary is 67, a graduate of Ohio State University and holds a BS in Social Work. She was married for 25 years, then divorced in 1991. That same year, she was sent to Norway as one of the 4 ambassadors from a cross country skiing program called Ski for Light.To nurture her love of writing, she writes as a volunteer for a blog called Vision Aware, part of the website for the American Foundation for the Blind. To nurture her love of public speaking, she enjoys giving motivational talks to groups of students, seniors, and anyone in between. She is currently seeking an agent for her first book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, a Daughter’s Memoir.”