Peer Highlights: APH VisionAware Advisors’ Inspiring Achievements in 2023 

collage of peers: Elizabeth Sammons on the left, Deanna DeAnna Quietwater Noriega to her right, Lynda Lambert far right, Liz Bottner in the center under Deanna, Max Ivy on bottom right

For ten-plus years, volunteer APH VisionAware Peer Advisors have contributed and shaped nearly all of the content on the site today. As a content manager, I am grateful for the expertise, talent, and time the advisors share –assuring VisionAware is a one-stop resource for individuals, family and friends, and professionals in the field of blindness and low vision. I am delighted to compile this post highlighting contributions peers have made outside VisionAware this year. 

Lynda Lambert’s Latest Book 

In April, APH InSight art winner, VisionAware Peer Advisor and author, Lynda Lambert, launched a book of poems and personal reflections. The book, Songs for the Pilgrimage, features a revised and expanded previous collection of stories, poems, historical notes, and journal entries. Lynda writes, “Songs for the Pilgrimage features writings, drawings, and photographs I created over four decades.” Learn more about Lynda Lambert at her website, Congratulations on your new book, Lynda! 

Library of Congress Welcomes Liz Bottner 

April 24 marks the founding of the Library of Congress, and for peer advisor Liz Bottner, this date is extra special. On April 24, 2023, Liz began her job as an Assistive Technology Specialist within the Patron and Network Engagement division within the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). Liz focuses on ensuring individuals who are blind, low vision, or have difficulty reading print have access (through technology) to the library’s content. When requested, Liz consults local cooperating libraries about the technology needs of their audience. Liz is thrilled to have this role and says, “I am happy for me, but I am also happy for all NLS patrons.” We wish you all the best in your role, Liz! 

New Book by DeAnna Noriega 

DeAnna Noriega’s most recent book, “Dogwood Blossom, Growing Up Native American” is now available in paperback and E-book formats. Purchase on or for electronic formats (ePub or Word). The book, written for children, chronicles the lives of a single mother with three children living on the reservation. It is a fictionalization of events in her childhood. Congratulations on launching and publishing “Dogwood Blossom, Growing Up Native American,” DeAnna! 

Max Ivy Reviews Products for Review Magazine 

In October, peer advisor Maxwell Ivy shared his first piece in Review Magazine (a publication of USAToday). In his first piece, Max reviews the Roku remote from the perspective of a blind or low vision user. He also discusses the Roku app and Alexa skills. Max is thrilled to write for a mainstream publication and raise awareness of accessibility. This is the first in what promises to be many for the Review Magazine. Read Max’s Roku review. In the first quarter of 2024, we will feature a blog from Max explaining how he found this opportunity. Thank you for sharing your writing and this exciting opportunity with us, Max. 

Elizabeth Sammons Explores Europe 

Elizabeth Sammons shares, “Though 2023 witnessed the passing of several loved ones in my life, it also brought two trips to ten countries around Europe. This fall, I was thrilled to receive a scholarship to visit Slovakia and Bulgaria, expanding my consulting on making museums and historic venues more friendly to visitors of all abilities. The 45-minute podcast below features the first-ever English interview led by a Bulgarian psychologist who is blind and expanding his journalism. We discuss international experiences of life and low vision and enjoy getting to know each other. Listen to the podcast Episode 49 Bridges Through Communication – Elizabeth Sammons, citizen of the world – YouTube.” Wishing you safe travels as you continue your work, Elizabeth. 

Wrapping Up 

From book launches to new jobs, writing reviews, to traveling Europe working on making museums more accessible for everyone, APH VisionAware peer advisors have had quite the year in 2023! We look forward to what 2024 has in store. 

 About Katie Frederick

Katie Frederick is the Digital Content Manager for VisionAware, part of the APH ConnectCenter. She has worked in federal and state government, higher education, and nonprofit leadership. Katie advocates for people who are blind or low vision.