NFBI Member Braille Stories
Debbie Pittman became a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in 2000. She is an entrepreneur of Pittman Enterprises & Associates which does medical, legal and standard transcription as well as provides materials in an accessible manner. She is also president of an organization Concerned Citizens of Paratransit which advocates for better transportation for people with disabilities.
Joe Monti has lived in the Chicagoland area all his life. In 1991 he visited Baltimore to see his former ophthalmologist who had taken over the Wilmer Eye Clinic. He went there to find out why he was losing his vision AGAIN.
Joe found out he now had macular degeneration. They asked him an important question — did he want to continue teaching or go on disability? He said he wanted to continue teaching and they told him to contact the NFB. He came back to Chicago and called the Illinois affiliate, attended his first meeting that April, contacted the educators’ division of the NFB, and the rest is history. Joe taught for 8 more years before retiring.
Lindsay Upschulte just finished her sophomore year in high school. She is from Sparta, which is in the southern part of Illinois. She enjoys reading, writing, and school in general. Lindsay has been using Braille for over ten years.
Lois Montgomery and husband, Russ, reside in Moline, a part of the Quad Cities located in Western Illinois along the Mississippi River. In 1997 a state scholarship brought Lois to the state convention which sparked further interest in the organization resulting in active participation for both Lois and Russ in the Illinois Affiliate. They helped found the NFBI Blackhawk Chapter in 1998 where Lois has served as president and vice president since its inception. She is immediate past president of NFBI. Since October 1999 Lois has performed the duties of medical transcriptionist at the Virdi Eye Clinic in Rock Island. She serves on CACUP for the City of Moline. She also advocates for blind individuals in the Illinois Quad Cities and outlying area. Her passion for Braille literacy has driven Lois to become certified and teach Braille.
Patti Gregory Chang
Patti Gregory-Chang has been blind since the age of 12. For Gregory-Chang, however, her blindness is no more interesting or important than any of her other characteristics, such as being a woman or a lawyer.
Patti graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1988 and has worked in the City of Chicago Law Department ever since. In 1998, Patti became senior assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago Law Department. Under the guise of this role, Patti prosecutes cases, supervises attorneys prosecuting cases, coordinates law clerks and externs, and serves on various committees and task forces.
Patti belongs to several professional associations as well, and is a Section Council member of the Illinois State Bar Association Administrative Law Section, a member of the Chicago Bar Association, and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association Administrative Law Section.
Patti first joined the Federation in 1981 in Michigan. She moved to Illinois in 1985 and has been increasingly active since. She served as Chicago Chapter President and as first Vice President of the Illinois Affiliate before becoming president in Illinois in 2006.
“The NFB is huge. When I found the NFB, I realized that its philosophy was the same as the one I had fortunately grown up with – blind people are able to live full and productive lives just like any other sighted person. We want the same chances to succeed as everyone else. With the right techniques, blindness is reduced to an inconvenience, not a tragedy.” Patti was elected to the National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors in 2008.
Patti has also found time to raise two children, John and Julia, with her husband, Francisco Chang who is an RN with several national certifications.