Mr. Thomas E. Bass is pursuing an undergraduate degree in the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at Fayetteville State University (FSU). He is slated to graduate in May 2020. He plans on pursuing his Master of Social (MSW) degree at FSU beginning in August 2020. After serving in the United States military, he lost his sight at the age of thirty-one because of an allergic reaction to penicillin. This tragic event became the impetus for his passion and advocacy to improve the overall status and environment of the vision impaired. Mr. Bass has challenged community leaders, policymakers, and elected leaders to address the needs of vision-impaired citizens. He has a strong record of community service and he is committed to initiating social change that will enhance the lives of individuals who suffer the stigma of visual impairment. He seeks to educate appropriate personnel at universities, hospitals, and other organizations on the rights and personal needs of the sight-impaired individual. His current focus is to continue to initiate collaborations in the community and at the university to promote education and inclusiveness for the vision impaired student.
I am a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work at Fayetteville State University. I am blind, but I have a vision – to use my skills and knowledge in the service of people who are visually impaired. My journey toward this goal began when I lost my sight in 2006. I quickly learned that attempting to live independently would require access to resources that were difficult to find if they existed at all. Many agencies were unable to provide resources to the visually impaired because they lacked funding, so I intend to partner with these agencies to seek federal funding that can fill those gaps. Money cannot remedy a lack of compassion. Where there is no compassion, there is no priority, which results in a lack of services and empathy for the blind community. Exposure and awareness are the best ways to overcome this form of injustice, which is why I successfully lobbied the Fayetteville City Council for more funding on behalf of the blind community. I co-sponsored an event for World Sight Day with the Vision Resource Center so students could experience life as someone who is blind and empathize with the many obstacles they face.