Gift of Sight: Community donates device to help blind woman see

Sarah Bullington was one of the first to take part in the device trials at Akron Children’s...
Sarah Bullington was one of the first to take part in the device trials at Akron Children’s Hospital. (Source: WOIO)
Published: Nov. 6, 2015 at 7:53 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2015 at 9:03 PM EST
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(WOIO) - A few weeks ago, we told you about a local blind woman's mission to see again through training on new technology that gives her slight vision. With help from our viewers, she was able to buy a device!

Sarah Bullington has been blind since suffering a brain tumor at age 3. Now that this 21-year-old owns the revolutionary piece of technology, everything has changed and she has a lot of catching up to do.

"I'm so happy and so grateful to everybody that helped me get that so fast. I didn't think I would be this quick," Bullington told us when we visited her on her last day of training at Akron Children's Hospital.

"I have to take baby steps with learning it and then once I have it where I master it, I can put it into my life with getting a job, and who knows," she said smiling.

Bullington was one of the first to take part in clinical trials with what's called the BrainPort. It's made up of a pair of camera-equipped glasses, which electronically transmit images through a special paddle to her tongue and onto her brain to decipher.

It's such simple things that mean so much to her, like being able to identify a baseball on a table, actually knowing where to reach to pick it up, and then d rop it in a bowl nearby.

While technicians watch her, they can also watch a computer screen, which shows what it's believed she is seeing.

Bullington is also learning to walk with the device, finally free from the need of a cane or anyone's arm. Her mom, Kelly Dudas, is thrilled.

"She's going to be busy. She's not going to be sitting there. She's going to be chasing the dogs around," said Dudas.

Even the doctor who introduced her to it, Dr. Richard Hertle, is amazed, as he closes his eyes and lets her guide him on a walk through her practice obstacle course.

"It's always nice to be a part of that jump from the laboratory to the street, to see patients being able to use it," said Hertle.

He and Bullington shared an emotional embrace before she left the hospital with her own BrainPort, which was provided by the giving hearts of northeast Ohioans.

After we told you about Bullington and her mission to raise $10,000 to buy the device, donations poured in. So many people gave to her through a GoFundMe account and a couple of fundraisers, to which she says she and her family could not be more grateful.

While it's wonderful for Bullington and those who helped make it happen, her story is also an opportunity to spread the word that this device is available. You can bet she'll be an advocate for years to come.

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