- Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
Taken from the Agawam Advertiser News on 2/15/18
Student Overcomes Sight, Hearing Challenges
By Peter Spotts
Like many his age, Daniel Dintzner is working hard and pre- paring for his junior year of college. Unlike many his age, Daniel can’t see, is partially deaf and has titanium rods in his back.
Dintzner, 26, born and raised in Feeding Hills, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder after birth, Alstrom syndrome, and started losing his hearing at the age of 6. Today, he is 60 percent deaf and uses a hearing aid in both ears. He also lost his sight at age seven. The disorder brought scoliosis, diabetes, and other heart conditions. After 24 titanium rods and eight screws in his back, he can walk on his own. Through all the adversity thrown his way, Dintzner has never let it get in the way of pursuing his career goals.
“I have a drive to succeed and improve,” he said. “The different awards I get keep me motivate and support I get from family and friends. You just have to have a plan in where you want to go and what steps you need to take to get to your goals.”
Dintzner is like many people his age — he listens to sports, cheers on the Patriots and then likes to sit back and relax with a good book. The Job Access with Speech, nicknamed JAWS, program helps convert text to speech so Dintzner can keep up with his required course reading at school, visit Harry Potter at Hogwarts or take in a mystery novel, his favorites being Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. If he doesn’t feel like listening, Braille- Note Apex can convert the text to Braille, so he can read on his own. Some of the other programs he utilizes include Kurzweil 3000, Drag- on, and ZoomText.
The biggest challenge he said he’s had to face has been transportation — he can’t drive himself and relies on Pioneer Valley Transit Authority to get him to and from school and home. His condition also drains his stamina; he can only handle two to three courses per semester and sleeps up to 16 hours a day. None of this is stopping him from growing as a student and a person.
“When you hear and talk about some of the obstacles that he’s overcome, not once has he ever used any of that as an excuse,” said Wayne Levy, director of communications for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. “He has not allowed that to stop him from pursuing his dream and aspirations. He’s always positive and up- beat. I’m impressed with him and how he presents himself.”
Dintzner has been working with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind since 2004, an organization that strives to provide high quality rehabilitation and social services for those registered as legally blind. They have helped him up through the different levels of schooling to the point where he is today. The past four summers, Dintzner has completed, and excelled, at four different internships and has received State Senate citations for three of them.
He has worked with the Holyoke Community College Disabilities Office, Advent Financial Group and Thrive Finance Success Center at STCC. His work in 2015 at the Western Massachusetts Employment Collaborative, where he conducted research on how to get jobs for people with disabilities, earned him special recognition in the Commission for the Blind’s 2016 annual report.
“It’s nice to see they decided I was good enough to be recognized,” Dintzner said. “They have been very good and helped me a lot with getting the technology I need to help do my classes or get the internship opportunities I’ve had so far.”
The next opportunity for Dintzner is going to be on the campus of Western New England University next fall. He is currently finishing up his associate’s degree in business administration at Spring- field Technical Community College and is transferring to WNEU for his junior year to pursue a degree in ac- counting.
He hopes to get an internship at MassMutual, which is where he’d like to work in finance of investment management after he finishes his degree.
“I want to do financial coaching or planning because it’s the areas I could help people the most,” Dintzner said.
Wherever his academic and professional endeavors take him next, his rehabilitation counselor Mary Kate Loughran is confident he will succeed.
“Daniel is extremely motivated and an excellent student,” she said. “He has done very well in his internship placements, always willing to take on new challenges with an outstanding work ethic. I’m confident I can speak for others as well when I say it is an absolute pleasure working with Daniel.”
Photos included in the article:
Image of Daniel Dintzner, of Feeding Hills, holds his text-to-speech device.
Image of Daniel Dintzner, a student at Springfield Technical Community College, is seen working at the adaptive lab on campus, which includes tools that help students with disabilities.