Blind before the age of three, Ruth Vallis went on to overcome tremendous odds and defied the expectations of others. She went on to move by herself to the U.K., biked from Ottawa to Toronto, completed a Master’s of Science degree online before technology accessibility was legislated, and become a successful physical therapist. She is now sharing her inspiring journey of overcoming the odds in her new book, Love is Blind. In Love is Blind, Ruth takes readers on her incredible path of trailblazing for the disabled all over the world, and showcases the power of tough love.
Ruth shares her personal inspirational story
I am a 61 year old single, blind woman, living in Toronto with my fourth guide dog, Darwin.
I started my book almost immediately upon retiring in spring 2015.
Overcoming challenges of being blind
There have been several challenges. I managed to get an executive editor of a major publishing company to read my draft manuscript. She was very positive about the book’s possibilities but said she was too busy to take it on at the time and it needed editing. It was difficult to find an editor whom I felt was adequately experienced in memoirs but also someone who was willing to work with a blind person. Some editors were intimidated at the thought of using track changes with someone who uses accessible technology, a talking computer. Once we conquered that, the next challenges were all related to trying to get a publishing company interested. Unfortunately, COVID happened and a company that wanted to publish me said they would have to shelve me for two or three years. Consequently, I decided to go with hybrid self publishing which then offered another challenge. I had to make decisions on things like cover art which was completely visual, however, I communicated the components I wanted on the cover, an artist made it happen and I involved artistic friends to give their comments and, eventually , help me select the final cover.
Career before becoming a writer
Prior to writing the book I was a physiotherapist for thirty-two years, working in the largest adult rehabilitation hospital in Canada. I specialised in multiple trauma and fractured hips.
This is my first book and it was published on March 23, 2021.
My book is called, Love is Blind.
When I was thirteen years old I had an English teacher who felt I should write a book one day and call it, Love is Blind. Subsequent to that, I spoke at many medical conferences and conferences for the education and training of the blind. At those gatherings people always said I should write my story and share what has led to my success. I decided that once I retired I would focus on that task.
This is my memoir which takes the reader from my birth in 1960 to my mother’s death in 2011. The overarching theme is that of a mother’s tough love for her blind daughter and what can be achieved through the strength of women working together.
The key characters are me, my mother whom I call, Peach, because she is soft and sweet on the outside with a hard nut in the middle, and several other people, many of whom are women, who I worked with or studied with and have facilitated my journey and a few who have not. I hope the readers will be able to relate to the characters as they are real people and, therefore, can inspire but also disturb.
What I like about the people in the book is that they are ordinary people, often with extraordinary gifts of kindness and helpfulness, but then there are the others. However, I did not create my characters, as this is non-fiction, but one might say they created me.
Drawing attention to the issues facing a blind woman
I would like to draw attention to the issues faced by a blind woman, especially since being integrated into the regular school system at aged eight and, later, workplace. I hope the reader will gain greater insight into what life was like for a blind woman before employment equity, accessible technology and/or disabled rights were legislated.
I would like the readers to believe in the strength of woman and how, with a tough loving, encouraging, supportive mother, the possibilities are endless.
I hope Love is Blind will lead to opportunities to speak and share with women and girls that there is strength within them and, if we work together, we can achieve much.
My three tips to women are:
Recognize there is a story within you and believe in that story.
The longest journey begins with typing a single word.
Don’t stop until you are holding a finished copy within your hands and then shout, ta-da!