Blind World Magazine

The fear is what will get you down.

October 20, 2005.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, FL.

Ronald Dixon went back to college, received several advanced degrees, graduated from law school, remarried, had a child, and persevered in several different law jobs, most recently at Legal Aid in Plantation.

He did all this while blind, unable to see the memos he writes, the clients he helps, or even the judges in Broward's circuit court.

Wednesday, designated as Florida Disability Mentoring Day, Dixon worked to inspire a blind teenager to overcome her worries and follow him around the Broward courthouse for the day as proof there are no limits.

"You have to conquer your fear," he said. "You have to think through the panic. The fear is what will get you down. If you panic, you're lost."

Dixon, 49, used to be a locomotive engineer. When he was 29 in Chicago, he was a passenger in a Jeep that hit a curb coming off the expressway, slid and flipped over, landing on Dixon's head. Doctors thought he wouldn't live.

He lost his vision immediately, and eventually his wife and his livelihood. He envisioned himself standing on a street corner, begging strangers for money or selling pencils.

"You think you got it bad, Mr. Dixon?" a nurse asked him. A woman had been burned in a fire, lost her sight, and both arms and legs were amputated.

"Don't think you have it bad," she told him.

"Whenever I feel depressed and self-pity I think of that," he said.

Dixon decided to pull himself together. He went to college and was denied entry to only one of the 12 law schools where he applied. He chose the University of California at Berkeley. Now he works for Legal Aid as an attorney for foster children.

On Wednesday, he mentored Sheniqua Miller, 16, of Fort Lauderdale, a junior at South Plantation High School. Partially blind from birth, Sheniqua is considering a career as a social worker or attorney.

Dixon took her as a challenge, eager to inspire her. With his 120-pound guide dog Abe at his side, he showed the teen his technology: the watch with a button that tells him what time it is; the computer that reads him his e-mail; the GPS system that directs him and his assistant to the homes of abused children. And he took Sheniqua to court, too.

"This is a motivator," said Sheniqua, of Fort Lauderdale, between court hearings.

Source URL:,0,1151267.story?coll=sfla-news-broward.

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