Helping Others Live Better

Sacramento woman finds new ways to tackle vision loss

By Seth Sandronsky
December 2021

Each one can teach one. Just ask Judith Pothier, 74, of Sacramento. She suffered peripheral vision loss from a car crash as a teen, yet as an adult has helped others with visual impairments live better.

Case in point is Pothier’s role as a beta tester on the design and rollout of new software by Hadley, a nonprofit organization that offers support free of charge to people with vision loss. In using the website, Pothier helped find and acquire new ways of adjusting to her visual impairment, which also helped other low-vision users.

For such folks, social distancing during COVID-19 is a steep challenge. Imagine, for instance, being visually impaired and trying to stay 6 feet away from fellow customers while shopping for and waiting in line to buy groceries. How about walking into your bank or credit union and socially distancing from others?

“Fortunately, the learning platform contains thousands of features that, without low vision, you would never think about,” Pothier says. “With my particular type of vision loss, it was very hard to use my iPad and other current technology with conventional settings that were pretty much useless.”

Pothier has been using the website she helped develop to learn new ways to adjust to her particular disability. “I think I will finally be able to start accepting my blindness as I go through the new learning platform from a ‘seeing world’ to a ‘blind way’ of seeing and adapting,” she says. “I was honored to contribute to its development.”

Pothier attended high school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but did not finish her final two years due to the 1963 auto accident. That misfortune did not keep her from pursuing higher education. She attended junior and four-year colleges in Oklahoma, eventually earning a bachelor of arts and master of arts in rehabilitation counseling and gerontological management.

No doubt about it, Pothier is a lifelong learner. In 1995, she moved to Oregon and became a certified rehabilitation counselor. Later, she became an entrepreneur. The inspiration for that change grew out of Pothier’s life experience.

“I invented The Ultimate Blanket, a fleece-lined, water-resistant blanket that sold to sports enthusiasts, seniors and people with mobility disabilities using wheelchairs,” she says. “I originally designed this product for myself after I moved from Oklahoma to a cooler and much wetter climate in Eugene, Oregon.”

Necessity drove Pothier’s product development. “I was not able to walk at that time, so I always used a wheelchair for getting places and being more independent,” she says. “There was nothing out there to keep one warm, dry and prevent the blanket from tangling in the wheels of a wheelchair.

“Helping others with disabilities to be more independent and social using a wheelchair in rainy, cold climates was the biggest joy of my life.”

Pothier’s life drew the attention of Dana Whitaker, a Berkeley-based author and coach. She interviewed Pothier for the book, “Transforming Lives $40 at a Time: Women + Microfinance, Upending the Status Quo.”

“It is rare to encounter a fully equipped entrepreneur,” Whitaker says. “One who sees a problem and/or an opportunity, then invents, produces and markets a solution, all the while developing goodwill with suppliers and growing a diversified customer base.”

Pothier also was involved with The Abilities Fund, a microfinance organization that focuses on lending financial support to individuals with disabilities. Ideas matter and so does startup funding.

Though Pothier is no longer in business, her drive to help people with physical impairments continues. “I can still be a viable part of the community to help others realize that there can be life after disabilities,” she says. “One just needs the right tools that work for them!”

For more information on Hadley, visit

Seth Sandronsky can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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