This week, the Who’s Who in Delaware series features Kathryn (Kat) Bottner who is DeafBlind. I have known Kat for years. We have both been members of the Delaware Statewide Independent Living Council and the Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI) Independent Living Advisory Committee. On a personal level, we also attended braille automobile rally events which BlindSight Delaware used to hold. To compete, a braille reader would give written instructions to a car driver to reach the destination. In this article, I will summarize my interview with Kat held virtually on August 11, 2020.
Kat has held a variety of jobs during her lifetime. She recently began working as a Senior Social Worker, Case Manager, for the division of Social Services. In 2017, she had a 3-month internship at the
in New York. From 2010 to 2014, she worked for about 4 years as a Peer Support Coordinator at BlindSight Delaware, which at the time of her employment there was known as Delaware Association for the Blind. Before that , she worked as a Senior Materials Clerk for DVI from 2006 to 2007. Previously, Kat has also taught sign language to students from kindergarten through third grade and been a teaching assistant in New York. Before that, she worked at the Long Island Children’s Museum reading books to children in braille. Kat stated she has the ability to listen and ensure that requests are fulfilled. She also values getting work done by deadline or before. Kat also has an active personal life.
Kat strives to serve her community. She is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Delaware and Vice President of Brookside Lions Club. When not serving the community, she enjoys being a resource to friends. This includes technology assistance. Kat has been living on her own for 13 years. The Helen Keller National Center gave her independent living training in 2003-2004. She likes not having to clean up after a roommate. Kat enjoys paying her own bills. She has a family support system as needed. However, Kat has a special doorbell useful for deaf-blind people to alert when people come to the door. She also uses a talking thermostat, vibrating alarm clock and an accessible grill which provides auditory alerts when food is done. There are other things worth noting about Kat.
Kat enjoys traveling even though travel can pose a challenge. It can be difficult for her to hear fixed-route bus announcements. Consequently, she tends to travel by bus using Paratransit. At an airport, she needs to ensure she has necessary assistance. She requests accommodations in advance when traveling by train, but usually not in advance for a plane. She requests assistance from employees of the train station/airport. Whether her disability poses challenges for Kat or not outside of travel is situational. Sometimes the challenge can be with vision, other times with hearing. She has attended some college at Delaware Technical and Community College. Kat took American Sign Language courses. Due to inability to become an American sign language interpreter, Kat switched to paraprofessional courses. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to audiobooks. She enjoys a variety of genres, including true crime and mysteries. Kat is willing to try any genre once. She has also read nonfiction biographies. Stephen King has been a favorite author of hers since she was 12. Kat also has advice for the disability community.
Like Blake, Kat was a child when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. To persons younger than herself experiencing a similar disability, she recommends: “Accept who you are and be willing to advocate for yourself.” To the disability community in general she says: Having a disability is not a one size fits all situation. What works for one person may not work for someone else. Disability types come in all shapes and sizes. Disability needs are a case by case basis.” Excellent advice, Kat!
Question for readers: If you have a disability, what advice can you give to others? I will return next week with another article.