Jeffrey’s Biography

Who is Jeffrey Riebman?

Hello, my name is Jeffrey Riebman, and I am 50 years old.  When I was 5 years old I was diagnosed with the genetic eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).  RP is a degenerative eye disease that affects the retinas and can cause blindness.  I progressively lost my night vision and peripheral vision during my childhood. At the age of 16, I completely lost my eyesight due to RP.  During my childhood I was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This means that my pancreas does not produce insulin, and I need to take multiple daily injections of insulin as well as monitor my blood sugar levels multiple times a day in order to stay alive. About 10 years ago I underwent a pancreas transplant that eliminated my need to take daily shots of insulin. This lasted for 8 years after which unfortunately the transplanted pancreas ceased functioning.  I underwent another pancreas transplant about two years ago, but after the organ was implanted it ceased to function after one week.  (Pancreas transplants are very complicated when compared to other organ transplants.) Consequently, I am now back to a daily regimen of insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring.

Despite the harsh impact on my life from blindness and diabetes, I was determined to graduate high school and attend college.  After finishing high school, I attended Montgomery College in Rockville for 2 years.  I then transferred to the University of Maryland in College Park where I earned a BA degree in Family Studies.  After College Park, I attended the University of Maryland School Of Social Work in Baltimore where I earned a Master of Social Work Degree (MSW) in 1994. I worked in different areas of Social Work for over 10 years.  I have worked with people with physical, mental, as well as emotional disabilities.  In addition, I also have worked in the health field as a hospital social worker.  As a social worker, I provided therapeutic counseling, treatment planning, as well as case management. It was very difficult for me to maintain my positions as a social worker because most of the organizations that hired me would not ultimately continue to provide me with the support and resources that a blind person needs to succeed in a sighted work environment. In addition, over the years my health suffered due to complications from Type 1 diabetes which impacted my ability to work 40+ hours a week. Now, while I still suffer from the complications of diabetes, I have lost a great deal of weight and am successfully dealing with both my diabetes as well as my blindness.

In addition to working out 3 – 5 times a week to maintain my physical and mental fitness. I am engaged in music as both my work and as a hobby. I sing and play guitar. I have participated in concerts in the community for senior citizens and have also taught music to children. In the past, I volunteered at the Torah School of Greater Washington elementary school during the 2017-2018 school year by giving talks and hosting discussion groups about disability awareness. Now I am beginning to work there every week as a music teacher for elementary school students.

For the past 15 years I have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which helps me to live and to cover part of my health insurance.  My goal is to work part-time in a supportive community where I can make a positive contribution and help other people using my skills and abilities. I believe that I found that opportunity at The Torah School of Greater Washington. I want to work hard and prove that I am can be a productive, valuable and responsible asset to my workplace community.

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