Diverse Abilities

Gina Martin

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My name is Gina Martin....Gina smiling and standing in front rhododendron, holding her cane with her left hand. On the left and bottom of the picture are a purple border. In the bottom left corner of the border is a graphic image of an orange butterfly.

I am a wife, a mother, and a teacher. I love to travel and go on adventures. I have embraced stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new activities for the experience. Oh, I am also blind!

I am a woman who is both passionate and compassionate. Empathy is one of my great strengths and at the same time can be one of my weaknesses. I make a point every day to be grateful for what I have, and I count my blessings. Not every day is perfect but there are perfect moments, every day! I try to look at the good in most things. Having my faith along, with a positive attitude, has helped me get through some very difficult times in my own life.

Gina, standing on the beach, smiling, holding her cane in her right hand, while her left hand holds the string to a kit flying high behind her - a purple Octopus she calls Mr. Squiggly

I began my vision loss journey in 1992 as a young adult. I was diagnosed as legally blind in both eyes due to Progressive Cone Dystrophy. It took me until I was 42 to accept that sight loss is my path. In 2015 I met two confident and independent women, who happened to be blind. On that day, I was so inspired by their abilities, that I decided it was time for me to break free from my own mental cocoon. Once I accepted the fact that I was losing my sight, I welcomed the process of gaining my blindness. For me, getting started meant leaving the familiarity and security of my home in Canada, to gain confidence and learn the skills I needed to remain independent. In 2016, I traveled to The Louisiana Centre for the Blind (LCB). LCB offers a 9-month, 40-hour-a-week intensive rehabilitation training program - under blindfolds. Since graduation from that program, I am able to see, look, and watch - only I do it differently from sighted people.

I am standing next to a large bush and looking at a purple lilac flower with my fingertips, just before I smelled it.  “I see only I do it differently” Gina Martin


I am a blindness professional with lived experience around vision loss. With the one-on-one training, support and encouragement that I provide, I can teach you how to navigate using a white cane and how to accomplish daily tasks, using no sight. Thankfully, there are many different tools, devices, and techniques that people use to gain or maintain independence.

Waitressing for 28 years here in Victoria with a diverse customer base taught me how to confidently communicate. This assisted my transition into the position of Disability Awareness Educator for the Victoria Disability Resource Centre (VRDC). In that capacity, I have been delivering presentations to youth in Greater Victoria Schools, and to seniors living in retirement communities.

Gina parasailing. Her blindness doesnt stop her for living life to the fullest.My Diverse Abilities Program (aDAPT) provides ways to interact, communicate and assist those of us whose bodies and brains work differently. Often it is not one's own disability that is the barrier, but the social stigma and built environment that surrounds us.

Helping those who happen to be living with a disability to educate the public about diverse abilities, has developed into my passion. I am working hard to help create a more inclusive and accessible community with the goal of bettering the world. Knowledge is powerful! We all can teach and learn from each other. Everyone is deserving of kindness. It takes less energy to smile than to frown.