Vision Thru Touch: TeacherSue and Visually Impaired Student Chris Adventure Thru Touch

Helen Keller

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.

They must be felt within the heart.”


This blog, “Vision Thru Touch” will chronicle our explorations as student and teacher of the visually impaired. Christopher is a pioneer in the world of micro-preemie babies in the state of Kentucky. Christopher was born at 1 lb. and 12 oz. in 1991, survived, progressed thru a lengthy stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and came to his Frankfort home to learn live and learn life skills as a visually impaired baby. Christopher’s visual impairment was caused when he stroked at birth causing by ocular occulsions in his eyes. Chris has attended Franklin County Schools and the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville. Chris loves his Macintosh Apple computer and iPhone and uses the accessibility features. Chris attends Choatville Christian Church in Franklin County and has collected hundreds of Christian music songs and CDs. Chris likes cats and dogs. Now Chris is exploring the bigger world with his personal teacher and advocate Sue Darnell Ellis.



Chris, “Being Legally Blind, I Learn Best Thru Touch”



Sue Darnell Ellis, “Touching Helps the Blind to See”

Sue, a lifelong teacher/educator, worked 27 years in education in Kentucky in Marshall County Schools, Paducah Independent Schools, Jessamine County Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education and nationwide with NASA and Oklahoma State University. Sue was selected by Kentucky and NASA to represent Kentucky in NASA’s Teacher in Space Program. As Kentucky’s Teacher in Space and NASA Space Ambassador Sue designed and implemented NASA’s national model for community involvement projects in Paducah, entitled SPACE (Students in Paducah Achieving Community Excellence). John Brock, Superintendent of the Kentucky Department of Education then recruited Sue to work statewide where she designed and implemented the first statewide Space Science Education Program in the nation. NASA’s Education Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC then recruited her to write and implement reform designs for NASA’s Elementary and Secondary Programs nationwide. Sue worked nationwide with multiple NASA Education programs in this capacity  for the next 14 years with office affiliations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Oklahoma State University in Stillwater Oklahoma, Jessamine County Schools in Nicholasville Kentucky and her home in Frankfort Kentucky where her domicile served as her physical office when she was not traveling. Sue was able to retire with 27 years in the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System when the NASA Administrator closed the Elementary and Secondary Education Divisions at NASA Headquarters in 2007. 

Sue and Chris met thru Sue’s business Memories Photography when Sue made Chris’s senior pictures. A bond quickly developed when Sue learned Chris’s story was very much like her young grandson Colton’s micro-preemie journey. Colton was born in November of 2007 at the UK NICU weighing only 1 lb and 4 oz, whereas Chris weighed 1 lb. 12 oz. Both Colton and Chris are visually impaired and so Sue and Chris’s mom began sharing information to help both of their boys. After the successful completion of Chris’s senior portraits and one-of-a-kind books, Sue was asked to begin working with Chris in science and to expand his travel experiences. 


Sue and Grandson Colton,

“We use all of the senses when we play but Colton loves musical sounds and touch the best!”


Colton and Christopher,

“Both boys love music and being together sharing technology already! No generational gap here!”

As Chris and I began our journey we decided to share our experiences with others as an example of Learning Thru Touch. Chris ‘sees’ with his hands and all five fingers better than he can with his eyes so we have begun exploring within Frankfort Kentucky with experiences through touch. Our very first day of exploration was spent in the Kentucky History Center. Please join us on this journey and enjoy our learning as much as we have! Learn how to help those with visual impairments experience the world thru touch. 

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