user's avatar
"The two disabilities I have don't stop me" –Noah Long
“The two disabilities I have don’t stop me.” 
The inspiring story of Noah Long – Raleigh, North Carolina
Noah Long of Raleigh, North Carolina – Graduate of Governor Morehead School
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Born completely blind and with cerebral palsy 27 years ago, Triangle 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.”

For more information, contact:

Kathy Edgerton
Chief Communications Officer
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
(O) 919-865-8660 | (C) 919-208-0621

Interviews and story:

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

#NoahLong #EastersealsUCPNCVA #LuanneWelch #CaseyCorder #GovernorMoreheadSchool #Raleigh #NorthCarolina
Family Feedback
(L-R) David Long (father); Joy Boyette (grandmother); Lamarr Scott (mother); Bob Barker (The Price is Right); Bruno Toffolo (grandfather)
From Noah's Mother, Lamarr Scott

As a mom, you want what is best for your children.  When Noah was born at 26 weeks weighing just over 2 pounds our life changed.  I knew there would be struggles but I didn’t realize just how much.  From early on, I tried to find out everything I needed in order to help him.  Through multiple surgeries, eyes, legs, spine, he was a champ.  He has never been one to complain.

Noah is and has always been a very outgoing person and will make friends with anyone.  I used to say, if someone came up and said “hey Noah, let’s go get some ice cream” he would say okay and just get up and go with that person, even if he didn’t know them.  I don’t think that would really happen now since we have talked about my concerns for his safety and that not all people are who they appear to be.  Without having sight, he can’t see expressions or body language and has to rely on his hearing and sometimes that isn’t enough.  He doesn’t have the luxury of knowing if they are really picking on him, making fun of him or whatever. 

After Noah graduated from Governor Morehead his desire to find a job became very important.  Like any other graduate, he wanted to get out into the world, get a job and have a purpose.  He didn’t want to sit at home.  It took several years, but his wish came true when Easter Seals UCP called and offered him a job. I’ve never seen him so excited.  With help from staff, he has been able to do just about any project they have requested and is always eager to do more. 

After he started working, he expressed his desire to be more independent and live in his own apartment.  As a parent of a multiple handicap adult, this is a scary thing.  I knew it was the right thing for him and for us.  We won’t always be around and we need to know that he can make it on his own with the correct supports of course.  It took some time, but we found an apartment community that we feel is safe and he has made several friends.  Within the first two weeks of moving into his new apartment, he was sitting in the 6th floor lobby area just hanging out (his words) and the building fire alarm went off.  A couple that Noah didn’t know picked him and his walker up and carried him down the six flights of stairs to safety.  They didn’t have to do that but I’m very grateful they did.  Around his complex he is known as the elevator operator.  Before Covid hit, every evening for an hour, he would sit in the elevator waiting for someone to call it so he could deliver them to their desired floor.  For him, it was a way to connect with his neighbors and make new friends. 

Even without sight, Noah uses social media such as Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, Dabel, as a way to connect with his peers across the world.  He’s made friends as far away as Hawaii and Bangladesh. 

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.  As a mom, I hope he finds that special someone that he can continue to enjoy his life.
Some Noah vignettes as viewed by his Grandfather

Noah has always prided himself on his desire and ability to be independent and accepted as just another normal person.

Technology has been a big factor and equalizer in helping him cope with his blindness.  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.

He uses a number of technological devices to help him in his everyday tasks.  He’s become very proficient with these; at one time helping the Technology teacher at Governor Morehead School orient students to some of them.  It is our hope (not sure Noah shares this desire) that one day Noah has a position that better utilizes his technical abilities.

Technology has captured Noah’s imagination, and the mainstreaming of things like Alexa and Siri make these devices useable and affordable to the Visually-Impaired (VI) community.  Apple and Amazon, among other companies, have come to realize there’s a broad and general appeal for devices that interact with voice commands.  

Devices that are specifically designed for use by the blind and VI remain very expensive.  Noah’s BrailleNote Touch (a handheld computer and note-taker, comparable to a laptop) was a reward for securing employment after High-School graduation retails in the $6,000 range. He compares this to a “car” often gifted to others graduating.  A comparable laptop would retail for 1/10 of that.  So, as technology continues to emerge and evolve, the price/benefit trade-offs will be even more important to Noah and his peers.

Mobility remains his biggest bug-a-boo.  His walker helps, but doesn’t always fit into tight places.  His apartment is well suited, but the bathroom door entrance is too narrow for the walker to fit through.  He makes do by using grab bars and such to navigate the bathroom. There are apartments better suited to accommodate things like walkers and wheel chairs, but the price points and other factors like convenient location, etc. are not always attractive.

Related to mobility, but also appealing to his technology interests are driverless cars.  He can’t wait for the day that true driverless transportation systems are a reality.  Even with the convenience of taxis, Uber, and the like, he still has to arrange help in getting to the vehicle and help at this destination.

Noah has always been, and remains, very determined to explore opportunities wherever they may lie. He’s willing to try anything at least once, food included, so that he can decide for himself what best fits his tastes and needs. 

A little story about a long-ago visit to Williamsburg and Bush Gardens helps bring this to life.  On visiting Williamsburg, we rode a bus to various points of interest.   By the end of our visit, Noah had memorized the recorded announcements the bus’ speaker system made at the various stops. At Noah’s request, Williamsburg kindly later provided a CD containing all the announcements that were made.

Bush Gardens proved a bigger challenge for his grandfather than Noah.  Once described, Noah was more than willing to ride the various roller coasters, provided I accompany him to describe the action as we rode along.  Once ridden, he decided which rides were OK to ride again.  Thankfully, this eliminated some of the most aggressive rides.

Noah “sees’ with his ears. Sounds, recordings and music remain top priorities.  This is also how he primarily socializes, utilizing online media to keep up with his friends and acquaintances.  Face-to-face contact, especially during this Covid-19 thing, is becoming more challenging and remains a big desire for Noah.

There’s a lot more to share, but let’s get real.

 Socialization, mobility, job opportunities, and financial trade-offs will be the challenges Noah continues to encounter.  On re-reading the previous sentence, it sounds pretty normal, doesn’t it?
Noah Long...  from Grandmother Joy Boyette

Noah was born 3 months prematurely, without sight.  During the following year he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  And at the age of 15, titanium rods were implanted on both sides of his spine to correct a fast-developing, severe case of scoliosis...from his neck to his hips. I remember the surgeon describing the procedure as "the longest cut you can make on a human body."  After enduring multiple other surgeries on his eyes and legs, this was the only time I saw him cry.

We had hoped there would be a magic bullet to restore his sight, but as one wise doctor explained: "You can have the best camera in the world, but if there's no film in it you won't get a picture" (this was before i-Phones).  In other words, since Noah's retinas had not developed properly, there is no picture for him.  I'll never forget the day he asked, "Grandma, what's a smile."  It broke my heart.

And yet, he has overcome these obstacles.  

He loves to travel.  He has a passport, which we had hoped to use this year for a trip to Montreal and Quebec City.  Maybe next spring.

As a child, he was crazy about "The Price is Right" on TV.  Think about it.  TPIR has the most musical sounds to be heard.  He could mimic the announcer, Rod Roddy, and tell you what game was coming up just by the musical intro.  Well, I contacted the show when Noah was six, and they agreed to host us in the studio for a taping.  I've attached a picture of the family with Bob Barker on that day.  Mr. Barker was very generous with his time, and introduced us to all the staff behind stage.  It was a very nice trip.

Among his many interests, Noah really enjoys radio jingles. When his school started their own radio show, he wanted to include jingles just like the professionals.  Noah had done his research and knew that ReelWorld was producing the ones he preferred.  (I expect you might know this group.)  So, of course, his grandfather, Bruno, contacted the company and, in collaboration with Noah, they generously provided 15 jingles for the school.

A year or so later, the Make-A-Wish organization gave Noah an opportunity to visit ReelWorld in Seattle. He spent the whole day immersed in the experience of creating a jingle, and ultimately wound up at a local radio station where he and his newly minted jingle were introduced.  It was the highlight of the year.

Noah has always been recognized for his manners, leadership, respect, and desire to keep learning and helping others.  He is very social and enjoys meeting new people.

. He mastered both qwerty and braille keyboards, proving to be an asset to the teachers and staff at school.  He helped younger students improve their typing skills and become familiar with new technologies.

. He loves technology, and has the ability to transfer information to and from a selection of devices, allowing him read, write, or listen to ordinary text. 

. He downloads any book he wants from the Library of Congress, and also enjoys books provided by the NC Library for the Blind and Disabled.

. He has volunteered for the NC Reading Service and, as a student, operated the sound board on Wednesday mornings for readers of the News & Observer.

. He has volunteered at events designed for the visually-impaired and others in the community, demonstrating technical devices, and hosting games.
.
. He can identify by sound the manufacturer of most any elevator, be it the old Dover, Schindler, Otis or (we love this one) Thyssenkrupp.

. He owns and operates a number of voice-controlled devices: microwave, vacuum, Google Home, Amazon Echo (and Dots).  He can warm his breakfast and dinner, turn the lights on and off, clean the floors, ask questions, turn on the TV, make phone calls, etc.

. He has a job that he loves

. He has an apartment

And above all, he has been determined to live independently. With an excellent team by his side (he calls them "staff"), I know he is happy and living the "independent" life he has always wanted. 

                                                He is a success!
Rooftop in Seattle at The Wolf 100.7 FM –Noah Long Center with Josh Klein of ReelWorld Jingles (2nd from left rear)
"Noah has a great attitude. He has a passion for learning new things; and his big personality helps him connect with others & 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 & life goals."

Luanne Welch
President & CEO
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia

"Noah is a great employee. He has the best attitude. He keeps us up to date on all the assistive technology. He has the coolest Braille tablet. His grandparents gave it to him when he was hired at Easterseals UCP.  His dream job is to work in radio doing voice-overs. This would be a perfect job for him because he has the perfect radio voice. He also enjoys singing and karaoke. Sometimes he will sing for us in the office (prior to COVID). Noah is very close with his family and has a wonderful natural support system. Since we started working with him, he’s moved into his own apartment and with support of staff and family, he has been living on his own quite well."

Casey Corder
Program Manager, IPS and Employment Services
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia

Noah Long's Mother's Day Story
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia

Contact information for:
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
5171 Glenwood Ave. Suite 211
Raleigh, NC 27612
Phone: (800) 662-7119
"The two disabilities I have don't stop me" –Noah Long
5
379
0
Published:
user's avatar
Robert B Butler

"The two disabilities I have don't stop me" –Noah Long

5
379
0
Published:

Creative Fields