Staff Spotlight: Meet Angela Villota and Her Unwavering Dedication

Photo of Angela Villota with graphic "Meet Angela Villota"

Visually Impaired Advancement (VIA) ‘s staff member Angela Villota is a force to be reckoned with in her unwavering dedication to advocating for accessibility and empowerment for the blind and visually impaired. Join us as we delve into Angela’s remarkable journey alongside her guide dog, Hara, and the transformative influence of adaptive technology. 

Formative Years 

From Columbia to the bustling streets of New York City, Angela overcame the challenges posed by Bilateral Retinoblastoma. This rare eye cancer left her without vision from an early age. Embracing her blindness, Angela utilized a white cane throughout her childhood, but her partnership with Hara, her guide dog, expanded her world of freedom and independence. 

Since their pairing, Angela and Hara have navigated New York City, Buffalo, and other major cities. With Hara’s assistance, Angela navigated and successfully graduated from the University of New York at Buffalo. 

“I appreciate all the stuff [Hara] has done for me,” expressed Angela. “That pushes me to go and be out and about to educate the public about blindness and how to interact with a handler.” 

An Ambassador for Others 

Before her promotion to VIA’s Workforce Development department, Angela excelled as an Information and Referral Specialist II at VIA’s contact center (211 Western New York).  

Now thriving as an Employment Specialist, Angela champions accessibility in the workplace and empowers fellow blind and visually impaired individuals through VIA’s Workforce Experience Training (WET) program. 

Reach for the Stars & Utilizing New Tools 

Having to independently navigate a high-traffic area like New York City with a white cane or even a guide dog can seem incredibly intimidating. However, Angela encourages all to be persistent, stressing the importance of determination. 

“Any goals you have in mind, try to achieve them,” she said. “You can do anything you set your mind to.” 

Recognizing the incredible impact of adaptive technology, Angela underscores the importance of acquiring and honing technological skills, particularly in assistive technology. Mastering tools like JAWS and ZoomText empower individuals with visual impairments, opening doors to endless possibilities, enhancing independence, and enriching lives. 

Today, Angela’s schedule is filled with excitement as she prepares for a wedding, navigates the local area of Buffalo, visits her family in New York City, advocates passionately for individuals who are visually impaired, indulges in horseback riding, and embraces countless other endeavors! 

Learn more about VIA’s services at  

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