Sunday: Thousands in state join disabled assistance programs
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Christie Knipp is legally blind, but her mother never let her make excuses.
Knipp, owner of the new Oh My Coffee! shop in Bixby, said she’s trying to teach her two daughters the same thing despite a hereditary visual disability that renders the three of them legally blind.
And although blending a foamy cappuccino or mixing a chocolate peanut latte can be treacherous even with perfect vision, Knipp isn’t letting a permanent lifelong disability stop her from her dream.
“I started making coffee through a work-study in college, and I just loved doing it,” the mother of three said. “I guess I loved it because of the people you meet, and I really wanted to create a community coffee shop where people can come together.”
Knipp suffers from aniridia, a disorder that involves the absence of irises. Her limited vision allows her to see people at close range as “a big blur,” and she can sometimes read larger print if she holds the text a few inches from her face and concentrates.
“I really like to sometimes pretend I can’t see at all because most of the time that’s what I have to rely on,” said Knipp, who acknowledged her poor vision is also deteriorating due to glaucoma.
But apart from memorizing the location of flavored syrups and coffee-cup sizes, Knipp is enduring the same trials as any other small business owner.
She’s trying to get the word out about her establishment and learning about ordering, pricing, taxes and marketing.
She is one of thousands of disabled Oklahomans every year who participate in employment assistance programs through the state’s Department of Rehabilitation Services. Many have to adjust to new-found obstacles, and others are trying to cope with life-long issues.
Some, like Knipp, even opt for the arduous and uncertain task of business ownership.
Read more in Sunday's Tulsa World
Christie Knipp, the owner of Oh My Coffee, makes a drink at the coffee shop in Bixby on Tuesday. Knipp, who is legally blind, offers drinks and food at the shop. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World