Plymouth Voices: Jeff Hebert

Luke Young


Staff Writer


Jeff Hebert is just like any typical guy in his junior year. He enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, and going to classes. The difference between you and Hebert is that he completely lost vision at 23. Since then, he’s had to change some of his behaviors to compensate for a lack of sight. He offered this interview to clear up any confusion from people who don’t know much about blindness.

What is your condition and when did you become fully blind?

My condition is called Peters anomaly. There are three varying levels of Peters anomaly that you can have. It’s usually a list of six or so problems. There’s Peters one, where you’ll usually have reduced vision, but it’s not certain that you’ll go blind. Peters two, which is what I have, is when you have all the problems on the list. For that one, you’re guaranteed to go blind. Then there’s Peters plus which comes with further neurological and physical problems. I’ve been completely blind for seven years now. Before that, I had functional vision in my right eye, up until I was 22. I used to wear thick, coke-bottle glasses.

What is a blind training center like?

They’re definitely interesting. It’s kind of like going to college because you’ve got similar class schedules and on-campus residences. There’s Orientation and Mobility, which is learning how to navigate using a cane or a guide dog. Another class might be Technology where you’re learning how to use a screen reader, whether that be on a tablet, a phone, or a full-blown computer.

In the places I’ve stayed at, you were in a sort-of dorm. In Colorado, they had several apartments in a complex rented out that they used. The one up in Maine had a house that they own that’s got several bedrooms in it. If I remember right, there were rooms for 10-12 people at the main center.

How does the cane assist you?

The cane is basically replacing my eyes. It’s running along the ground and telling me what’s in front of me before my feet hit it. Some people might notice that if I’m stepping forward with my right foot, my cane is swept to my left, and vice versa. That’s because I’ve already cleared one side, and I’m safe to step forward there.

How have you adapted to losing sight?

It certainly hasn’t been easy. Relearning technology has definitely been the biggest benefit and the biggest hurdle. Using computers used to be fun for me, but now it’s nothing but a chore. On the other hand, when I’m working with my tablet or my phone with a screen reader on, it’s a great and enjoyable experience to use. I also don’t need to use lights anymore, which is kind of nice. 

The loss of incoming information through my eyes was something that I did not consider before. I can’t read the board in class, a fast food menu, or the price of the item I’m trying to buy. I can’t even read what the item I’m trying to buy is unless I have someone sighted with me, or if I use an app. If I drop something, it’s a pain to get. I also do a lot of things by feel now, because my hands are my eyes.

What do you miss most about sight?

Video games and color. Video games were 100% my primary way of taking in new stories. I needed to know what happened next, so I had to beat the game. I could get lost in games for years. I knew I was going to miss that when I was going blind. It sucked and has been the hardest thing to let go of. I miss how bright and colorful the world used to be because now everything is just a shade of grey. Not all that fun to look at.

Who assists you the most in your daily life?

Definitely my fiancee Samm. She walks me to and from a lot of my classes, and in between, she takes me to the dining hall. She helps me when I need help with homework sometimes.

Do you have a disability or does society disable you?

A combination of the two. I’m never going to be as physically able as other people can be if they have vision. At the same time, there are a lot of things that society could do to make life significantly easier for both me and other people who have disabilities. 

For example, one of the biggest things is recognizing our limitations and when we may or may not want to be helped. Another thing is that the limitations on income for blind people are ridiculous. People could advocate for the increase of Supplemental Security Income benefits, and for an increase in the asset for those with disability. Right now, I can have two thousand dollars at any time. If I ask for more than that, I have to pay it back. I can only make up to a certain amount of money before they take my disability pay away from me. If I get married, the government deems it’s now Samm’s responsibility to take care of me, so they take away a lot of my benefits. 

What’s your major?

Currently, I am a political science major, but I’m in the process of switching over to the music department. The degree I’m switching to doesn’t exist yet, but once it does, it’ll be digital music production and entrepreneurship. It will be a new program focusing on the digital side of music with some business classes thrown in to help better understand the business side of music.

Do you have difficulties playing guitar?

Not necessarily. In playing the instrument itself, no, but in finding accessible learning tools, very much so. There are a lot of guitar-playing platforms out there where you can: “Learn songs in as easy as five minutes!” and none of those are accessible to me. There are songs that will just show you the tabs while you’re sitting there, which aren’t accessible either. People will put up covers on Youtube where they have the tabs overlaid, and I can’t do any of those. It’s a rare time when I find a lesson where someone describes to the player how to play the song in a way that’s descriptive enough for me to pick it up as a blind person.

Do you dream with sight?

I used to. When I first went blind, all my dreams were in the functional level of vision I had before going completely blind. I don’t remember many of my dreams, but the last one I remember was a sighted dream.

Hebert is currently living with his fiancee of two years on campus. He is also looking to start a guitar ensemble next semester. For more information, you can contact him through his email, at To contact the disability office, their email is, or you can contact them by phone, at (603) 535-3300.

2 thoughts on “Plymouth Voices: Jeff Hebert

  1. I have been hearing amazing things about Jeff from Samm (also amazing) and am grateful for this opportunity to read more from his perspective! Wonderful writeup, thanks for sharing.

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