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South Dakota Association of the Blind

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South Dakota Association of the Blind


Erwin Wiest

Born with sight in 1954 and growing up on a farm meant watching and observing plants and animals and operating and maintaining machinery. Basically, listening was as important as seeing. A number of different blue-collar jobs entailed allot of hard work. Add God-given abilities like depth perception, judging distances, and sense of direction made the adjustment to blindness acceptable. Living in Sacramento in 1979 the support team was in place and being independently blind became my job. The O and M, Braille, and other living skills were taught from my apartment and by fall 1980 was searching for a way to more constructively use my time.

I enrolled at Sacramento City College and little did I know college/education would become a career.

My initial goal was production/mechanical engineering. Regret not taking Chemistry in high school because it became the stumbling block. Did acquire an A.S. degree in math, science, and engineering.

I moved back to the farm in North Dakota in 1985. Realized business/economics to be a strength and U. of North Dakota was the only college in N.D. that had an enabling center so moved to Grand Forks in 1989 to begin a new phase in education. Achieved a Bachelor of science degree in business Administration majoring in management/business economics with a 4.43 GPA but was unable to acquire gainful employment.

The great snowfall in winter of 1997 caused the flood of 1998 and everybody was forced to evacuate Grand forks, which is how I ended up in Aberdeen. Taking a computer class in Madison with Keith Bundy approximately 2005, regenerated my interest in education and Attended Northern State University where I acquired a B.S. in social work, (4.98 GPA).

Presently I’m residing in Eureka, S.D. renting a small house where I spend time taking care of the house and yard. Even planted a small garden and enjoy eating my home-grown tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. A convenient gravel road allows for a 2-mile walk done regularly. I have great neighbors and many people in town watching out for me, especially in winter.

This is my second stint as a director for SDAB but just as important I am also a member of The American Council of the Blind. The greater the membership the louder the voice is the reason for having joined California ACB, NDAB, and SDAB through 40 years of blindness. Blind and visually impaired are the largest percent of physically challenged people and membership to SDAB and ACB is our only voice to impacting legislation at federal, state, and local government.