Mary Frances Early smiling at a camera

As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we want to take this opportunity to recognize one of our long-time supporters, Ms. Mary Frances Early. In 2013, the day before she received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Georgia, Mary was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Respected as a music educator and quiet trailblazer, Ms. Early continues to inspire many with her spirit and determination in managing life with limited sight.

She has been a pioneer in the racial justice movement since her days as a student. She shared, “I grew up in segregated Atlanta, and it was because of the push for equal rights and justice that I decided to go to the University of Georgia.”  Her admission as the first Black student at the University of Georgia, and eventually graduate, began the process of integrating the university. Mary went on to teach in Atlanta Public Schools before her retirement. She has continued to be a force for good, often returning to speak to her alma mater.

Always seeking purpose in life, macular degeneration has posed a challenge for Mary. She’s had to learn ways to adapt her daily activities to maintain her independence. She utilizes bump dots from the VisAbility Store to mark her oven to indicate temperature levels, uses high-contrast cookware to help her see what’s on the plate, and magnifiers to help her read small print. Mary shared, “I get so happy when I can accomplish something I didn’t think I’d be able to do. Just recently I built an air fryer!”

Mary supports CVI because she believes in – and has experienced – our mission at work. When asked what advice she’d give someone new to vision loss, she shared, “Get as much information as you can early on. For you to live comfortably, you need to know where you can get help.” Hope is here at CVI. Thanks to Ms. Early for her inspiring example, not only in her remarkable career but for her passion for our mission and for helping others experiencing vision loss.