Born completely blind and with cerebral palsy 27 years ago, North Carolina native Noah Long is an inspiring role model – living independently, tech-savvy, well-spoken, and employed. “Noah is the most positive person I know,” said his father, David Long.
“At the age of 15, titanium rods were implanted on both sides of his spine from his neck to his hips,” said Noah’s grandmother, Joy Boyette. “After enduring multiple other surgeries, this was the only time I saw him cry.”
“My mother, she’s the one who mainly advocated for me when I was young,” said Noah. “But my grandparents, they’re the ones who pushed me, especially my grandfather.”
“Technology has been a big factor and equalizer in helping Noah cope with his blindness,” said grandfather, Bruno Toffolo. “If asked, he would probably tell you his only handicap might be his cerebral palsy which affects his mobility and ability to do some tasks as he’d like.”
“The technology exposure I received from Governor Morehead School was central to moving forward,” said Noah. “They’ve put in digital learning platforms and have an IT consultant. Public schools weren’t exposing me to the new equipment we now have. The school is crucial to the visually impaired population with a core curriculum designed to teach blind students the skills they need to be independent and on their own.
“Governor Morehead School helped me with socialization, advocating for myself, training in mobility, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. I could easily relate to the other students, knowing that we have the same kind of visual-based disability. Class sizes are smaller, and this means more time can be spent with each student learning what he or she needs.”
Gifted with a great voice, Noah served as a receptionist while attending Governor Morehead School, and worked with Triangle Radio Reading Service on a variety of collaborations with the school. “The original goal was to create an opportunity for students to do a radio broadcast, which later evolved into an actual course. I believe the program is now in its sixth year,” said Noah.
“I am now happily employed by Easterseals United Cerebral Palsy. I’m responsible for answering phones, uploading documents to our residential service, creating consent forms in Microsoft Word, as well as using Microsoft Excel for tasks assigned by supervisors.”
“The people I work with are amazed at the capabilities I have with technology and the fact that I can do the work. Once we got my software installed onto my PC, they were like, “Whoa! He can take off.” They saw my work in Excel. They didn’t know a blind person could use Excel. I’ve been showing them the equipment that I use to read in braille what they’re seeing on the computer screen.”
“Noah has a great attitude,” said Luanne Welch, President and CEO of Easterseals UCP NC & VA. “He has a passion for learning new things, and his big personality helps him connect with others and do his job well. I am truly inspired by Noah’s journey – personal and professional – and excited for his future. He’s an asset to any team, and I have no doubt he will achieve his career and life goals.”
“My plan is to keep my job with Easterseals UCP,” said Noah. “I work three days per week. Once I got this job, I was just happy. I don’t want to sit at home every day. Being a social butterfly, I hate to be socially isolated. You know what I’m saying?
“I know I have physical limitations, but my primary gift is my voice. In addition to Easterseals UCP, I’m hoping to connect with someone in the voiceover industry who can provide some guidance. I have the software and recording equipment at home and can easily send voice recordings to clients to put into their systems.”
“Noah’s dream job is to work in radio doing voice-overs,” said Casey Corder, Program Manager for Easterseals UCP. “This would be a perfect job for him because he has the perfect radio voice.”
“Outside of work, my goal is to find that special person to share my life with,” said Noah.
“As Noah’s mom, I hope he finds that special someone,” said Lamarr Scott. “No one knows what life has in store for them, but for Noah, he is forging his own path and not letting anything get in his way.”
“The two disabilities I have don’t stop me,” said Noah. “I’m up for any challenge. I’m very tech-savvy and able to easily help people when things go wrong with a computer. Another strength I have is teaching various technologies for the blind and visually impaired.
“A lot of companies don’t know how, and feel like they can’t accommodate someone with blindness and cerebral palsy. The best advice I can give to people with disabilities is to keep trying. Don’t give up.”