Experts on Blindness
Experts on Blindness

What makes Neva Fairchild (she/her) an expert on Blindness? 

Through personal life experience, years of specialized higher education and a life-long career in the blindness and low-vision rehabilitation and services world, Neva's level of expertise is unparalleled. Her knowledge and network in the blindness profession and community continues to grow each year, as she makes strides to ensure that people living with low-vision or blindness have access and resources to live a full and rewarding life. 

Neva is committed to continuous education as science, technology and resources evolve, especially related to the medical implications of blindness on one's personal, social and professional life. She is a natural educator and communicator, meeting people at their level of understanding while providing advocacy, insights, guidance, and expert knowledge. Her leadership presence in blindness and low-vision professional organizations remains strong at the local, state, and international level. 

Career Progression

 American Foundation for the Blind, 2008 - Present 

National Aging and Vision Loss Specialist 

National Independent  Living and Employment Specialist 

National Independent Living Associate

Texas Department of assistive & Rehabilitative Services-

Division for Blind Services, 1997 - 2008

Employment Assistance Specialist 

Texas Commission for the Blind, 1992 - 1997 

Vocational Rehabilitation Councilor 

Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. 1991

Vocational Evaluator 

Professional Organization Leadership Roles

AER: Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

  • President (Elect, Acting and Past) 2019 - 2024
  • International AER Board Member2008 - 2010, 2012 - 2014, 2016 - 2019
  • Rehab Counseling & Employment Chair 2004-2010 
  • Information & Technology Chair 2010 - 2016
  • Aging Chair 2012 - 2018
  • Texas AER President, 2000 - 2003 
  • Texas AER Secretary, 1996 - 2000 

NRA: National Rehabilitation Association    

  • North Texas Area Rehabilitation Association Secretary, 2005
  • Dallas Area Rehabilitation Association Director, 2004 
  • Texas Rehabilitation Association Board Member-At-Large, 1999 - 2002 
  • Dallas Area Rehabilitation Association President, 1998 - 2000 
  • Newsletter Editor and Secretary, 1992 - 1998 


MS, Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

BS, Rehabilitation Science
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Volunteer Work

Neva is committed to volunteering time to worthwhile causes in her local community. She has been the President of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Dallas Fort Worth Chapter since 2018. 

Awards and Appointments

The Governor's Disability Task Force on Disaster Issues Affecting Persons who are Older and Persons with Disabilities 
Appointed by Governor Greg Abbott 2020 

Sammie K Rankin Memorial Award
Texas AER, 2015

Rehabilitation Council of Texas
Appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015

Aubrey Boyd Tips Award 
Texas AER, 2004

Neva's Detailed Biography 

Neva M. Fairchild, MS, of Flower Mound, Texas, is currently the National Aging & Vision Loss Specialist for the American Foundation for the Blind, where she has worked since 2008. She oversaw Esther’s Place at the AFB Center on Vision Loss until that program was moved to Envision Dallas in 2019. Her work for the next year focused on the issues of aging and vision loss, specifically regarding access to transportation for older people who are blind or have low vision. In July, 2020, she began to oversee the AFB Blind Leaders Development Program, when the original Program Manager was promoted. She coordinates the planning & execution of leadership development training for each cohort of the program, including communication with Fellows and mentors, coordination of training facilitators and ongoing program evaluation, including longitudinal research.

Prior to working for AFB, she was employed for over 15 years by the state of Texas as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at Texas Commission for the Blind and as an Employment Assistance Specialist for the Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Blind Services. She began her career in vision rehabilitation at the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., as a Vocational Evaluator in 1991. 

Neva’s new part-time professional endeavor is to provide expert witness services to attorneys in legal cases that involve people who are blind or visually impaired. She purchased Experts on Blindness in February, 2023 from a colleague who retired from providing expert witness services part time for 23 years. 

Neva went directly from high school to Texas A&M University, at age 18 as a student with extremely low vision and no blindness skills. Her vision loss at that time was thought to be due to Retinopathy of Prematurity. Neva left school three years later to be a stay-at-home mom when her husband completed his master’s degree. After nine years at home, when both of her children were in school, and with the help of the Texas Commission for the Blind, she returned to college and completed her BS in Rehabilitation Science in 1988 and her MS in Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology in 1992 at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Near the beginning of her masters program, her low vision aids were no longer working well enough for her to read regular print. She revisited a retinal specialist who thought she may have been misdiagnosed as a child, and he recommended further testing. An electro-retinagram confirmed that Neva had a form of Retinitis Pigmentosa known as Cone Rod Dystrophy. Thirty years later, genetic testing confirmed Stargardt Disease, and over the intervening years Neva’s loss of sight has resulted in no useable vision today.

Neva has been involved in leadership roles in two professional associations throughout her career. She was secretary for many years and then President of the Dallas Area Rehabilitation Association, the local chapter of the Texas Rehabilitation Association and a subchapter of the National Rehabilitation Association. She also served at the state chapter level of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) as secretary for many years and then as President in Texas at the beginning of the 21st century. She has also served in leadership roles at the international level of AER in Division 2 (Employment Services), Division 5 (Information & Technology) and Division 15 (Aging). For three non-consecutive terms, beginning in 2008, before being chosen to be President Elect of AER in 2019, she served on the international board in various roles. Neva assumed the role of President of AER in August, 2020 and completed her term in July, 2022. She assumed the role of Past president at that time, and she will plan the AER International Conference that will occur in Charlotte, North Carolina in July of 2024. AER is an international professional association of about 3000 members, all working in careers that serve people who are blind or have low vision. Neva also serves as President of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Foundation fighting Blindness, an organization that funds research to prevent, treat and cure inherited retinal diseases (IRD) and support those living with IRDs. 

Neva was appointed by Governor Gregg Abbott to the Rehabilitation Council of Texas in the fall of 2015 where she served for four years. During her last two years on the Council, she was the Chair. During her tenure, DARS was abolished, and all state vocational rehabilitation services were transitioned to the Texas Workforce Commission. She worked hard during her time on the council to be sure that services to people with visual impairments remained robust across Texas. 

In October, 2020, Neva was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Older People and People with Disabilities. She seeks to bring awareness of the needs of people who are blind or have low vision to the attention of legislators and state government officials making decisions about planning, programming, and emergency evacuation procedures in Texas. 

Since 2016, Neva has been part of a campaign to improve services to older people with vision loss nationwide. She is the AFB liaison on the Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition (AVLNC), serving on the Steering Committee and is Co-chair of the Access to Quality Services Committee. She is also a member of the Vision Loss in Older Adults (VLOA), a work group formed by the health & Human Services Commission in Texas, which is seeking to improve services to those over age 55 with vision loss. It is her passion to bring help and hope to all people who cannot imagine how they can continue to live full, rewarding, productive lives with low or no vision. In 2020, Neva joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking abilities.