Kimala joined A Shared Vision in 2017 as an Early-Intervention Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist and Certified Infant Massage Instructor. She divides her time between Anchorage, AK, and Grand Junction, CO, where she serves A Shared Vision’s families on the Western Slope.
Raised on a cotton farm in southern Arizona, Kimala knows how isolation and the lack of services affect rural families. “Access to services shouldn’t be limited to where you’re born. I like building bridges between rural people and what’s available in busier parts of the world,” explains Kimala. Even when she’s in Alaska, she can keep appointments with her Western Slope families by using telehealth, which is a form of HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing.
While she has experience working with all ages, she prefers early intervention vision services because she likes helping parents build a foundation for their child to succeed in school-based activities and to increase their confidence in raising a child with special needs. Play is an important part of developing that parent-child relationship, even for a child who’s blind or visually impaired. “Everything I do in early intervention is about finding shared joy in play because shared joy and bonding underly all relationships.” For a child who is blind or visually impaired “you just have to adapt play so it’s satisfying to the child and the parent,” explains Kimala. She shows parents how to use massage on infants with visual impairments because it teaches parents the importance of touch and other nonverbal ways of communicating with their child. She starts every session with a “Hello” song because children with visual impairments learn to recognize her by her voice, even when she can’t be there in person for a home visit. “When vision is missing, you have to show parents how to engage their child’s other senses so their child can develop to its fullest potential,” says Kimala.