SEBRING — Although Trent Ferguson was born blind, he is a success by anyone’s standards even though he faces challenges living in a sighted world. He is a co-host on three different radio shows, a drummer for the popular local band California Toe Jam, and a student at South Florida State College.
“I was born completely blind,” Ferguson said. “I have a condition called optic nerve hypoplasia.
“I learned at a very young age that you’ve got to work for what you want,” Ferguson said. “No one’s going to do it for you.
“I love to be challenged, and I love to succeed,” Ferguson said. “My vision teacher taught me, ‘No matter if you are blind or not, you can do what an ordinary person does. You just may have to do it in a different way.
“The phrase ‘I can’t’ is not in my vocabulary,” he said.
He achieves success in a sighted world by using different methods to achieve the same results. For example, how Ferguson looks at Facebook as a blind person is different than the way others view the site. “I use software for my Apple iPhone 5. I use voice over and it reads everything on the screen,” he said.
Apps for the blind and visually impaired allow them to read mail and printed paper. “I have a screen reader on my computer,” Ferguson said.
When Ferguson is faced with a challenge and wants to complete something independently, he begins his research. “I have to research how to get things done,” he said. “The point is to keep going. I research things and then adapt it to the way that I do things.”
Ferguson is an excellent student at SFSC and plans to transfer to the University of Central Florida to major in communications after he finishes his Associates of Arts degree.
To prepare himself for independent living, Ferguson received independence training at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Daytona Beach. He started the course in September 2017 and finished in January 2018.
“I learned how to catch a bus and cross the street safely.”
He also learned a host of skills that would allow him to live on his own and prepare him for the transition to university life.
Ferguson plans to study communications at UCF, because “radio is my passion,” he said. “I’m willing to do anything to reach my goal.”
Since Ferguson is a co-host on three different radio programs, he has lots of great experience for his resume. He can prove to a radio show that he can perform the job even though he is blind.
“I have a lot of sound to send to program directors and general managers of radio stations,” he said.
Ferguson refuses to let blindness stand in his way of achieving success as a radio personality. In fact, he doesn’t see his vision problems as a problem. “If I had a choice to get sight, if someone said, ‘Hey Trent, we have a surgery for you,’ I would say, ‘No I don’t want it that way.’
“The Lord made me this way for a reason, to inspire people,” Ferguson said. “No matter what obstacles I have, I can overcome them and do what I need to do.
“I feel blindness is a way to share the gospel,” he said. “It’s a way to share inspirational thoughts on Facebook and share the gospel of our Lord and Savior.
“I tell people, ‘Go out and inspire someone today,’” Ferguson said. “A smile or a kind word can go a long way. I like to spread joy.”