Kayla Flanary: Finding Joy After the Struggle
Kayla Flanary is a twenty-seven year old woman from Oregon. She has Oculocutaneous albinism Type 2, and she is legally blind with poor depth perception, photophobia, nystagmus, and astigmatism. Glasses do not improve her vision, so she doesn’t use them.
Albino versus Person with Albinism: Kayla absolutely prefers being referred to as a person with albinism rather than an albino, because she was bullied in middle school and called, “albino girl,” by her peers.
A Rough Start
Kayla learned she was legally blind at the age of seven. An eye doctor was explaining her vision to her parents, and their concerned reaction caused Kayla to become curious and ask questions. Though she was diagnosed with albinism as an infant, this was the point in her life where she learned the impact of albinism and her vision.
Growing up with albinism was a struggle because she is the only person in her family with it and experienced quite a lot of bullying in school. She often felt very excluded. She even experienced bullying from her special education teacher who accused her of lying about her vision. Despite these struggles, Kayla was an honor roll student.
She was homeschooled after middle school due to other medical issues unrelated to her albinism, but teachers would often send home small printouts for Kayla to work on. This happened in the years before smartphones, the prevalence of emailing PDF documents, and other technology knowledge that is so commonplace today.
Being homeschooled also allowed Kayla to escape some of the bullying she previously experienced from both her peers and her teachers.
School was full of endless frustrations for Kayla. She also struggles with dyslexia, and for these reasons, she chose not to attend college.
Growing & Learning
Like so much of the albinism and visually impaired community, Kayla did not enjoy using glasses, sunglasses, a monocular, and other tools as a child. Tools today have also come a long way from what they were in the 90’s. Monoculars are available in so many sizes; sunglasses can be found in cute styles; and even things like magnifiers are much improved. Now, children also have tablets and computers that make life with a visual impairment so much easier. This was not the case when Kayla was a child.
Now, Kayla enjoys wearing sunglasses and has quite a few pairs, and she can use a smartphone and computer to navigate her world a bit more easily.
Kayla currently lives independently with some help. She is disabled due to her blindness as well as other health conditions.
She deals with both sunburn and windburn so most of her activities are indoors. She finds joy in creating TikTok videos that are funny and honest.
She also enjoys arts and crafts, puzzles, and other hands-on activities.
You can find her TikTok profile here.
You can also follow her on Instagram here.
You can find more Community Highlights of the albinism, visually impaired, and blind communities on this page.
As always, stay curious.