Ike Presley's Retirement

Ike Presley dressed in black hat and t shirt resembling a  jacket and mock tie and over-embellished lapels, wearing shorts and loafers, kneeling next to a dog.

Ike Presley Retirement

Some of you may be aware that Ike Presley has formally retired from the blindness and low vision field this summer, and is thoroughly enjoying his well-deserved retirement. The Georgia AER board did not feel that it was acceptable for Ike to just quietly retire without at least an acknowledgement of the tremendous impact he has made, not only within Georgia, but across the U.S. and beyond.

To say that Ike leaves some big shoes (he boasts a size 13) to fill in the blindness field would be inaccurate. If you know Ike, you’re aware that he’s one of a kind in so many ways. The combination of his deep humility, curiosity, personal and professional lifelong immersion in low vision and blindness places Ike in a league as one of the leading experts in low vision and blindness across the globe. We in Georgia are fortunate to call him one of our own. In the past, Ike served as a regional representative for AER, a Georgia AER board member, and has been a presenter at Georgia AER conferences in the past.

Ike Presley was born in Royston, Georgia, July 25, 1953, as the third son in a family with a history of congenital cataracts. As some of you are likely aware from Ike, he comes from a lineage of Pentecostal Holiness preachers. Fortunate for our field, he chose to redirect his ‘fire and brimstone’ toward blindness rehabilitation. If you’ve ever attended one of Ike’s presentations, you’re well aware of how he was able to pack the room with an eager audience, anxiously awaiting both his wisdom and powerful speaking style. He had a way of speaking to an entire room of people that made each individual feel like you were the only one in the room.

Ike completed a Bachelors of Music Degree at Florida State University, and served a six-month music therapy internship at Georgia Regional Psychiatric Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. As a part of the services received from the Florida Division of Blind Services he was offered the opportunity for a work experience program after graduation in the division’s Panama City, Florida office. This opportunity, along with his personal experience of having a hereditary visual impairment and the numerous relationships developed with fellow college students who were visually impaired, stimulated an interest in further pursuing a career in this field. Ike enrolled in a Master’s program at Florida State in the fall of 1976.

Ike’s professional career began after receiving his Master’s degree from Florida State University in 1978. He served as a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) for 11 years in two school districts in Metro Atlanta using both the itinerant and resource room service delivery models. He also instructed adults who are blind or visually impaired in the use of access technology for 4 years at the Georgia Sensory Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta. From 1993-1999 he served as an Assistive Technology Specialist for the Georgia Project for Assistive Technology traveling around the state conducting assistive technology evaluations of students who are blind or have low vision, and provided training to teachers in the use of assistive technology. From March, 1999 to the summer of 2018, he was a National Project Manager with the American Foundation for the Blind where he developed and implemented training opportunities, materials and resources for service providers working with adults and children who are blind or visually impaired. In 2009, he co-authored “Assistive Technology for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment.” He has presented nationally and internationally on technology, low vision and other topics related to blindness and low vision.

Up until the end of 2018, Ike has also served as Chair of the Smokey Powell Assistive Technology Center Advisory Board, providing strong leadership and stewardship of the various initiatives that provide services for children across the state who are blind or have low vision.

Fully embracing his retirement status, these days it’s possible you’ll spot Ike cruising the streets of Atlanta with his 1929 Model A Ford, blazing the bike paths with his cycling posse, and gathering various and sundry items from local stores in preparation for his notoriously “over the top” Halloween parties.

by Johan Rempel