Beth Finke and Iliana Genkova

Recorded January 3, 2019 Archived January 3, 2019 42:47 minutes
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Id: chi002858


Iliana Genkova (47) interviews her memoir writing teacher Beth Finke (60) about how Beth became blind in her twenties, living with a disability, and her seeing eye dog.

Subject Log / Time Code

When Beth was 25-years-old she started seeing spots from diabetic retinopathy and eventually became blind. She got married at that time too.
Iliana asks what advice Beth has for people when going through early stages of trying to save their sight. Beth says she should have gone to Europe with her husband like they had planned but instead she kept having surgeries for naught and didn't go. She says not knowing what's going to happen during the surgeries was the worst part.
Beth talks about writing her memoir and learning only then about what it really felt like to learn there was no hope for her sight. She says she felt relief to give up.
Iliana asks if teaching senior citizens memoir writing is difficult knowing they could die. Beth says it happens. She keeps them alive through their stories. She says the essays they write in her class are often read at their memorial services.
Iliana asks what Beth would like Smartphones to do for blind people. Beth suggests a way to translate sheet music.
Beth says it's a gift she lived part of her life sighted because she can understand both pretty well. Beth says, "I feel watched a lot. I'm still me but I'm not me because I can't see anymore so it's hard to figure out sometimes how to act. I think getting older I quit worrying about it and I'm just me."


  • Beth Finke (b. 1958)
  • Iliana Genkova (b. 1972)

Recording Location

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit