Blind dispatcher overcomes obstacles to receive statewide award - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Blind dispatcher overcomes obstacles to receive statewide award

Posted: Updated:
Don Kirk Don Kirk
Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins

GRAYSON COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Born visually impaired, Don Kirk could read large print until about second grade.

From there, his condition worsened, and now Kirk can only see shadows.

"You learn to work around it,” Kirk said. “It’s about perseverance and hanging in there. Roll with the punches. Adapting to those things that need to be adapted to.”

Over the years, Kirk tried out several jobs. They didn’t work out. In 1987, Kirk took a job as a 911 dispatcher in Grayson County. It’s a job that would turn into a career.

These days, Kirk’s computer is state-of-the-art, and it reads each word to him. His keyboard and radio have braille.

The dispatcher has even memorized locations to better guide police, fire and ambulances.

“The word ‘can’t’ is not in Don’s vocabulary,” said Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins.

When it came time for Sheriff Chaffins to nominate someone for Kentucky’s Telecommunicator of the Year Award, the choice seemed clear.

“I polled all of our police officers down here in Grayson County. Don received the most votes, which is also who I recommended as well, to receive this award,” Sheriff Chaffins said.

This month, Kirk received the coveted award. He beat out contenders from all over Kentucky.

“From the time that I called him, he was speechless. He kept thanking me and thanking me. I said ‘Don, this is all you. It’s you’,” Sheriff Chaffins said. “He overcame this obstacle. He’s blind. He can’t see. But he doesn’t let that interfere with his daily duties.”

“For me, it might as well be a lifetime achievement award. Most people don’t get those until they’re dead,” Kirk said.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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