Author Bilingual Disability Trainer Education Advocate Hearing Impairment Motivational Keynote Visual Impairment

Catarina Rivera

Catarina Rivera

Catarina Rivera has earned a BA in Psychology from Duke University with a scholarship from the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program; a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degree from the Bank Street College of Education with a focus on Dual Language/Bilingual Education; as well as a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Hunter College.

Catarina is also the founder of Blindish Latina, a platform smashing disability stigmas through storytelling, advocacy, and education. In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, she has over 14+ years of experience working in educational institutions and at nonprofit organizations. She has experience in program development/management, managing teams, capacity building, community organizing, community engagement, and diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) initiatives as part of employee groups.

As a Latine/x woman who has lived with disability all her life, she brings a deep understanding of intersectionality to conversations surrounding disability. She wore hearing aids from a young age but did not know why she she was hard of hearing. At 17, she was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome which includes a progressive vision disability due to retinitis pigmentosa as well as a hearing disability.

Learning that her vision would decline was very difficult for 17-year-old Catarina. As her disability journey progressed over the years, she describes her progression as moving through the following four stages: “From Denial to Acceptance to Self-Advocacy to Public Advocacy.” In her journey, Rivera has learned what it is like to have a nonapparent disability that one can make apparent or choose not to disclose. She began using a white cane several years ago and noticed changes in how society viewed her. She now feels disability pride and is empowered by sharing her story.

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