Cathy Miller

Cathy Miller

E-mail: cmil21@lsuhsc.edu

Cathy Miller was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she graduated from St. Louis High School in 1973.  She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 17.  After high school she left home for blindness skills training at Arkansas  Enterprises for the Blind where she learned Grade 1 Braille, orientation and mobility, and other life skills under blindfold.  Upon completion of her blindness skills training, Cathy moved to New England where she began working as a civil servant for the government of the State of Vermont.

Cathy moved back to Louisiana in 1980 to attend McNeese University.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1984 and then began working for the university where she continued her education.  She earned her Master’s degree in Psychology taking night classes while she worked two jobs at McNeese in the daytime.  During that time, Cathy began experiencing significant hearing loss along with her continually decreasing vision.  She obtained hearing aids which helped her to combat the effects of dual sensory impairments, and took a leave of absence from employment in order to complete her internship and thesis.  Cathy’s internship involved rape crisis counseling as well as work at a psychiatric hospital day clinic.   She received her Master’s degree in 2000 and then moved to Baton Rouge where she attended Louisiana Career Development Center for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind.  There she continued her study of braille and learned  American Sign Language from Deaf teachers.  After nine months of total immersion in sign language, Cathy moved back home to Lake Charles. However none of Cathy’s friends or family knew how to communicate with her using sign language.  Approaching total deafness and total blindness, Cathy made the decision to seek eligibility for cochlear implantation.  She was implanted bilaterally, receiving her first implant in 2009 and the second in 2010.  She was finally diagnosed in 2012 with Usher Syndrome through genetic testing.

Cathy passed the LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) exam in 2001 and worked as an LPC Intern for a short time in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  She then returned home to Lake Charles where she became involved with the disability advocacy community.  She was elected vice president of the Lake Charles Mayor’s Commission on Disability where she served approximately ten years.  She also served for approximately ten years as the President of the Lake Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana.  In her capacity as a leader in the Louisiana blindness community, Cathy often attended The Washington Seminar, an event of the National Federation of the Blind which brought her to the offices of national Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC.  She served two terms as a member of the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council, and two terms on the board of the National Deaf-Blind Division of the NFB.   She helped to establish the Dual Sensory Impaired Group of the NFB of Maine, and she is  founder and President of the Deaf-Blind Division of the NFB of Louisiana.  She serves on the NCDB Advisory Board, Executive Board of the Lake Area Chapter of the NFB of Louisiana, Louisiana Deaf-Blind Task Force, Louisiana SSP Task Force, and  Louisiana Interagency Deafblind Work Group.  She has spoken before the Convention of the National Deaf-Blind Division of the NFB, the State Convention of the NFB of Maine, the NFB of Louisiana, and DeafBlind groups in Texas, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as the Louisiana Commission for the Deaf, the Usher Syndrome in Louisiana Symposium, and the Biannual Conference of the Lake Charles Mayor’s Commission on Disability.

Cathy has received service awards from Governor  Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Governor Murphy Foster of Louisiana.  She completed Partners in Policymaking in 2006.  She earned service awards from People First of Louisiana in 2005, and  from  Lake Charles Mayor’s Commission on Disability in 2011,  2013, and 2016.

Cathy is a lifetime member of the National Family Association for Deafblind and of the American Association of the Deaf-Blind.  She is also a member of the Lake Area Chapter of the NFB of Louisiana and of the Louisiana Acadiana Deaf-Blind Citizens.

She began working at the Louisiana DeafBlind Project for Children and Youth in December 2020.  She can be reached at guillcat@gmail.com