Service animal empowers blind women to continue life


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Blind and fearless.

If you ask Jaime Ruth James of Little Rock, that’s how she would describe herself.

She was once a trauma nurse until her vision started to rapidly deteriorate 10 years ago.

“I enjoyed the medical field,” says James. “But once I became blind there wasn’t much I could do anymore.”

She wasn’t born blind. She suffers from glaucoma and a unique form of macular degeneration.

“I didn’t want to die and was afraid if I felt sorry for myself that could happen,” explains James. “So I came here, as a result, to make myself more in tune with the world and to stay busy.”

James says it isn’t easy having your sight taken from you and she quickly had to make up her mind about her situation.

“It’s really easy to get caught up in all the situations that surround you – feel sorry for yourself, a lot of self-pity,” she explains.

James invested in a service animal, a black labrador named Maggie, after having a close call while crossing the street and almost getting hit by a car. She says Maggie helps her more than she could have ever hoped for.

“Maggie is my second pair of eyes in that she keeps me from running into things,” says James. “Which I do quite a bit of and she is able to direct me where I need to go.”

Now living in Little Rock, she is working at IFB solutions, once called Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind.

James talks with other newly-blind members and says she hopes by sharing her story others will see that there is life after losing your sight.

“She [Maggie] would be an inspiration,” says James. “If you could get a dog that could help you it would take you further than you ever dreamed.”

IFB Solutions was founded in 1963 with just six employees who were blind.

Today, the company is the largest employer of people who are blind.

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