Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Death

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Death

Article excerpt

Susan Ponchillia, noted professor and researcher in the field of rehabilitation of people who are blind, died October 12. A faculty member in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University (WMU) for 28 years, Dr. Ponchillia was renowned for her work with the indigenous people of Tlicho, a nation in subarctic Canada, who have a high rate of vision loss due to a genetic predisposition to rare forms of retinitis pigmentosa. Dr. Ponchillia's research took her and her husband, Paul Ponchillia, a WMU professor emeritus in the same department, to the arctic region repeatedly over the past 20 years. She spent several months during a sabbatical year living in one of the region's remote native communities during the winter months. In July 2009, Dr. Ponchillia premiered a film she produced about her work with the Tlicho people. The documentary was designed to help educate people at risk of inherited vision loss and explore how other cultures cope with such diseases. She regarded the work, Sing Me a Fish: Tlicho People of Subarctic Canada Living with Vision Loss, as the capstone to her professional career, and she was scheduled to retire in December 2009. …

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