My name is Jessica Burt and came to the United States of America with my wonderful
husband in the year of 2000. Before I moved I already found myself as a young
independent woman graduated with a Bachelor degree in Social Work. I am visual
impaired since birth but that never stopped me to achieve my goals in life. I have three
supportive sighted siblings who are younger than me. I have a rare genetic disorder called
Aniridia that is degenerative, which means my vision will get worse over time.
The adjustment period after I moved here was a difficult time. I felt like I lost so much of
my independence here in the USA. In Europe I was so used to jumping on a bus, train,
bike, etc that will get me anywhere I wanted to go. I found out soon enough that the State
of Michigan was not set up that way like New York City, Chicago or even Boston for that
matter. I graduated with a Master degree from Wayne State University in Social Work.
For many years I worked in Mental Health until my daughter needed me at home to
navigate her through difficult times relating to the visual impairment. I volunteered by
helping out on the state level and was one of the pioneers to implement the curriculum for
Peer Support Specialist with Disabilities. When my daughter is in school I work from
home as a Customer Service Professional which is nice and convenient for me to do. Due
to my work schedule being so flexible I was able to be the PTA Vice President at the
school last year. Since 2011 I have been a commissioner on the Dearborn Commission on
Disability Concerns in Dearborn and started my second term last year.
My daughter has the same degenerative genetic Aniridia disorder. Although she is visual
impaired she is doing very well academically at the Howe Montessori Elementary School
3 rd grade and enjoys competing as a soloist dancer as well as in the competition group.
Over the years she did a lot of activities like swimming, karate, figure skating,
gymnastics, music/theater and added recently skiing to the list that she loves to do.
We joined MPVI in November 2011 but we really started coming to the retreat for our
very 1 st time in 2015. The warm support and resources from MPVI has been really
helping us to meet others with the same struggles in life and to understand how the
system works in the USA. MPVI has been very emporing for our family. It gave us a
sense of taking charge of situations we were not familiar with. To make things happen in
life we as parents believe that parent involvement is very important regardless if a child
has a Visual Impairment or not. That is why we love to help out anyway we can as a
family.I will be one of the retreat Co-chairs and I am very excited for what is to come in