Muskogee resident finds no barriers

·3 min read

Jun. 28—Wendell Davis lives a peaceful life with his wife Vicki on the east side of Muskogee.

Davis, 70, is an accomplished musician on the piano and guitar. He is blind and has been losing his hearing since 2001, but that hasn't stopped him.

"Life has its ups and downs," Davis said. "But the Lord is always with me and has never left me out in the cold. He is the author and composer of my life — everything about me revolves around Him."

This week is Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, honoring Oklahomans who are deaf-blind. The week also is dedicated to world-famous author, educator, lecturer and disability advocate Helen Keller.

Deaf-blindness is a condition in which an individual has combined hearing and vision loss, thus limiting access to both auditory and visual information.

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBVI) is a division of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

DRS SBVI will hold a recognition event from 1-3 p.m. Thursday SBVI's Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Oklahoma City.

"This will be a time for the public to join members of the deaf-blind community, advocates, clients and DRS staff in recognition of Deaf-Blind Awareness Week," SBVI Administrator Tracy Brigham said. "Our program will include speakers, client stories and spotlight services provided by SBVI that empower Oklahomans with dual vision and hearing losses to become employed and live full and productive lives."

Davis, who was born prematurely, doesn't remember having the ability to see.

"As I understand it, I gradually lost my sight right after I was born," he said. "I was told it's a form of retinopathy of prematurity."

Davis calls himself an "army brat" having been born while his father was stationed at Heidelberg Military Base in Germany. His family eventually moved to Muskogee when he was 6 years old so he could attend the Oklahoma School for the Blind.

From there, he attended Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, Arkansas, one summer at East Central University, several semesters at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) and graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with a bachelor's degree in music in theory and composition. He said he has put that degree to use.

"I have several songs copyrighted," he said. "I also have a master's of divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Center in Kansas City. In Kansas City, I was a minister at a church in that area."

Davis is quick to point out that his faith has been a driving force in his life.

"I've had several awesome times that the Lord has led me in some music," he said. "It turned out without a preacher or me knowing either way, that it went right along with his message."

He takes his music and message "wherever the Lord opens doors."

"I have also been an artist in residence with music programs in schools," Davis said. "They would have some poetry they would write and we would put it to music."

In his office, Davis has his computer set for text to speech. Attached to the computer is a digital tape player for audio.

"The way it works is you turn it on and it plays books," he said. "So if I want to listen to it, it's right there. It has several features on it — if it's too fast I can turn the speed down, and if I want to make it real fast, I can turn it up."

While some people who have physical limitations and get down on themselves, Davis says he is, for the most part, an optimist.

"I got discouraged when I began losing my hearing," he said. "The Lord spoke to me and said 'Trust me.' He still opens doors."