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Photo: Johnnie Johnson | By Lindsey Ford, Rocky Mountain PBS | Celebrating people for their differences is something that Johnnie Johnson has brought to the forefront through media. Johnson is blind, though his vision is clear when it comes to using his radio platform to educate the public about individuals with disabilities.

“It’s just interesting how sighted people will put blocks up in front of themselves instead of just saying, ‘I can do it!’” said Johnson, the president of Innervision FM. “And that’s my philosophy … I always say, ‘Hey, we can do it. Forget about the disability; that’s just an obstacle to make it more interesting.'”

Johnson established Innervision FM in 1990. The nonprofit, weekly cable TV and radio show consists of interviews with blind people and people with other disabilities. The program places a strong emphasis on giving the guests a platform so they can share their authentic selves with the public.

Johnson said he wants the able-bodied community to “see us as people.”

The idea for Innervision FM came to Johnson while he was taking public transportation. He recalled hearing children ask their parents questions like “Mom, why does he have a cane?” The parents would often tell their kids to be quiet and to not ask questions.

“Well, why not?” Johnson thought. So, he created Innervision FM to answer questions like the ones those children on the bus had and to share the voices of people living with disabilities. The nonprofit also provides broadcast training series to aspiring radio talent with disabilities in the Denver area.
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“My mother said, ‘Don’t ever think that you can’t do something,’” Johnson said. “She was very influential to make sure I did things.”
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Johnson, who in 2021 received the “Impact Award” at the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture, is excited about the future of Innervision FM. He said he hopes to start a newscast to discuss current events from the perspective of a blind person.

When Johnson is not working, he and his wife Nataliya Johnson, travel the world together.

Johnson has authored a book about his life called, “6 Shades of Blindness.” You can learn more about Innervision FM here: http://www.innervisionrecords.org
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Read the full story on Johnnie here:

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at lindseyford@rmpbs.org.

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