For one Pasco teen, a gift of music, sight and independence came all at once.
Dulce Perez started losing her sight when she was 7 years old, after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year earlier.
After years of depending on others help in the classroom, Perez will be able to “see” on her own because of a new gadget and two local organizations.
Team Up for Type 1 Kids and the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired partnered up to gift Perez an Orcam MyEye 2.0.
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The device helps Perez by recognizing faces — more than 100 once programmed — reading words to her, and identifying products.
“I’m able to see now,” Perez said. “I’m going to be able to do my homework without asking my partners for help.”
The main unit clips to her glasses. A camera sees faces and objects, then tells her through an earpiece when it’s a face or thing the unit knows.
The Orcam costs $4,500 and isn’t covered by insurance.
The 15-year-old is the first student in the Tri-Cities to use an Orcam, said Daniel Lipparelli, Bishel’s executive director.
“For her to have this device, she won’t need a big video magnifier on her desk,” Lipparelli said. “She can do her homework at home.”
Perez is one of more than 250 kids in the Tri-Cities with visual impairments that can’t be corrected by glasses, he said.
T1 Kids co-founder Forrest Alexander first approached the Perez family to help Dolce pursue one of her dreams — playing the piano.
With the help of T1 Kids, Perez got to tour Tri-City Music for a piano while using her Orcam.
Owner Allan Willis was ready for her with a free Samsung digital piano.
“The gift of music is a gift that last a lifetime,” Willis said. “There’s no greater blessing in life then to be kind to someone and help them reach their full potential.”
Perez said she’s excited to play the piano and start school. Math is her favorite subject because of the challenges.
She wants to become a doctor someday, to help others like she’s been helped.
The young girl said she doesn’t shy away from difficult things, believing everyone should embrace them.
“Never give up on life,” Perez said. “Don’t say no to an opportunity that is opening a door to your future.”
You can help: Team Up for T1 Kids is in need of volunteers. To sign up, go to http://teamupfort1d.org/.