A young girl from Niverville, Man. is creating a place where kids and teenagers with vision impairments can connect with one other.
Taliah Braun was born with a condition called pediatric congenital microphthalmia, which means her one eye is much smaller than the other. The left eye, which is blind, has a prosthetic eye covering it.
"Basically this website is called Vision Village and it's a website specifically for kids around Canada and the world with visual disabilities/impairments," says Braun. "It's meant to connect kids and teens who have visual challenges with each other. Also, to just see that they're not alone."
Braun had the idea for the website for a while, but in June of 2021, she started creating the website.
"I've lived with this visual difference all my life. I had always wanted to talk to or see other kids my age with their disabilities as well, to just relate to that challenge. Over the years I expressed to my parents that I wanted a place like that. We weren't able to find it so I decided I would create a place like that."
From the time she was born until now, Braun says she has probably had over 100 eye appointments.
"As a child getting my prosthetic eye had not been a fun process to create. It was uncomfortable. So when I was 11, my first Ocularist, Kathleen, I asked her to write a word on [my prosthetic eye] that I felt was an encouraging word."
The word Braun chose was 'Beloved,' and ties into her Christian faith.
"That was something God had been showing me when I was little and had just stuck with me."
WIth Braun's most recent prosthetic eye, she asked her Ocularist to draw something on part of the glass.
"They said, 'We've never done that before but we can try it. I was able to get them to draw a little owl and then a Bible reference on the back of the eye where no one will see it but I would know. It's been a really cool thing to have and makes it a lot more fun."
As Braun continues to grow she's had to have new prosthetic eyes created for her every two years or so. However, when she turns 16 and her body growth rate slows, she should be able to have the same prosthetic for roughly five years at a time.
"I've seen this [online community] as a God-idea because He gave me the ideas and resources to create this and help spread His belonging to those who might feel loneliness."