Legally blind photographer keeps her purpose in focus

On a hot May day, Alison Fortney wanders around the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners. With her camera and curiosity, she captures flourishing flowers. It is easy to pick up on her connection to nature.

"You see all the drops of water on everything," Fortney said after taking a picture on her digital camera.

Finding details is not so simple for the seasoned photographer.

"I have retinitis pigmentosa. It’s a loss of your field of vision," she said. "I have about 15 to 20 degrees of vision. A normal person has 180 degrees."

Alison Fortney

Alison Fortney is legally blind, and the genetic disorder is causing her vision to shrink.

"Down down down further until your either left with just a tiny bit in the middle or sometimes you can be left with nothing at all," she said.

But she has hope.

"The good news is there are people who are looking for a cure for this disease because right now there isn’t one," she said. Fortney believes her limited field of vision allows her to better focus.

Alison Fortney

While she may be losing her sight, she has found a calling. At the Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired in West Allis, Fortney is an advocate. She speaks to leaders about how to better support and provide opportunities for people living with visual impairments.

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"What we’re doing is talking to congress and talking with our representatives about what we do and why blind employment matters," She said.

Alison Fortney

Every photo Fortney takes helps reframe what is possible.

"I do not let my blindness or my disability define me. I still like to do what I love."