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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Tragedy turns to triumph for districtwide DSS staff member

After+losing+her+leg+and+eyesight%2C+TCC+coordinator+of+assistive+technology+Tracy+Jordan+took+it+upon+herself+to+change+her+life+and+use+her+experiences+to+help+others.+Photo+by+Georgia+Phillips%2FThe+Collegian
After losing her leg and eyesight, TCC coordinator of assistive technology Tracy Jordan took it upon herself to change her life and use her experiences to help others. Photo by Georgia Phillips/The Collegian

By Cody Daniels/reporter

After losing her leg and eyesight, TCC coordinator of assistive technology Tracy Jordan took it upon herself to change her life and use her experiences to help others.  Photo by Georgia Phillips/The Collegian
After losing her leg and eyesight, TCC coordinator of assistive technology Tracy Jordan took it upon herself to change her life and use her experiences to help others. Photo by Georgia Phillips/The Collegian

Tracy Jordan, TCC coordinator of assistive technology, has taken an unfortunate turn of events and used it to better her life and help students who are also blind, immobile or disabled.

Jordan is a single mother with two children who not only takes care of them but also currently works on her doctorate as well as in the DSS office to ensure that other disabled people get the technological help they need to level the playing field.

In May 2003, Jordan was bit by a brown recluse spider. By the end of that day, her leg up to her knee needed to be amputated. She would end up losing her leg entirely by 2005. A year after she lost her leg, she lost her eyesight.

“I remember I was playing my son’s football game on the XBox the night before, and I fell asleep making a team. When I woke up, I was completely blind,” Jordan said. “The doctor told me if anyone had just looked at my eyes after I was bitten, then they would have noticed the venom was burning the arteries that connect my eye to my retina, but no one did.”

After the loss of her eyesight, Jordan said she spent nine months feeling sorry for herself and being angry at God, but her children were her inspiration to continue. She decided to help other people like her. Jordan started to attend the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, where they taught her to cope with her disability.

“They also taught me how to use JAWS, which is a screen reader for the blind and has helped me tremendously, even still with my work here at TCC,” Jordan said.

After she went blind, Jordan’s husband couldn’t handle it and left her and the children. She found solace in her mentor, Rochelle Clark, who taught her to be independently blind as well as what to expect from her children.

Jordan attained her associate degree from Brookhaven College just one year after she picked herself up. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas two years later and her master’s degree two years after that, also from UTD.

Tracy Jordan started this semester as the college’s new coordinator of assistive technology.  Photo by Georgia Phillips/The Collegian
Tracy Jordan started this semester as the college’s new coordinator of assistive technology. Photo by Georgia Phillips/The Collegian

“The funny thing is I always wanted to go back to school and do something amazing with my life, but I never would have had I never lost my eyesight,” Jordan said. “I guess there is a reason for everything, and that was the reason this happened to me so I would do the things I was capable of doing and be able to help others that can’t see or walk.”

Jordan is the only employee at TCC that works with assistive technologies. She said she always has been interested in working with computers.

She found TCC looking for an assistive technologies specialist and knew the job was for her.

Jordan gained experience working in DSS offices and with assistive technologies by using them to get her education at UTD.

“I like to call us differently abled instead of disabled because the only difference is we have to do things, including learning, in a different way than everyone else,” she said. “I help make sure that people have the tools they need to do exactly that.”

Jordan’s goal is to make TCC more knowledgeable about its assistive technology equipment.

She wants to make perceptions about disabled people more truthful at TCC so the DSS office can better assist its students.

Jordan said it wasn’t easy adapting to being blind, but once she realized she wasn’t alone, it was much easier.

“I used to judge people according to appearance or how they looked at me,” she said. “Now I have to judge people by inflection in their voices.”

Jordan invites blind parents who are TCC students over to her house for dinner sometimes so she can help them like Clark helped her.

She said people who are blind need a “pay it forward” mentality. Having that makes it easier and creates a network of people they can rely on, she said.

Jordan said her job has allowed her to beat the odds by getting off disability pay and going back to work, which she said 90 percent of disabled people do not do.

“Most people stay on disability their whole lives. I’m just glad TCC has enabled me to not do that and still make my own living,” she said. “NE Campus students are the most helpful that I’ve ever met. It really is the perfect job for now.”

Jordan said the best advice she could give to other blind students is to find out exactly what they need.

Once they know what they need and can be honest about it, she said, life becomes manageable.

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