My name is Janice Walth. Iíve been competing in archery for the past eight years, but have been blind since childhood with Retinitis Pigmentosa or R.P., a degenerative condition of the retina. Typically, the disease shows up in teenagers or adults, but for my brother and me, it showed up earlier.  They didn't know I had it when I was little.  They said we were farsighted.  Back in the '60s, people didn't put a name to it.  But being blind hasn't stopped me from living my life. I supervised medical transcription for 18 years in a hospital in Southern California.  Since then, I have moved to northern San Joaquin County and have taken a new path.

My life is infused with family, career and volunteering with several community organizations. My husband, Courtney, is supportive of my work and also loves the sport of archery. He sets up my equipment and helps me with the initial sighting in. We participate in archery tournaments together. In addition, we have been active in Discovery Blind Sports (DBS) for almost 10 years. This non-profit organization organizes and leads snow skiing experiences for people who are blind. Courtney is a licensed ski guide for DBS. I am currently the President of the Board of Directors.

With a bachelorís degree in assistive technology for adults with disabilities, I have worked at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA, in the Disability Support Programs and Services Department. I taught the advanced computer and screen reading classes for people who are blind, led small reading groups, and provided other individualized technology support for students. I also participated on campus teams regarding student accessibility concerns. Iím an Independent Service Provider for the Department of Rehabilitation and currently provide technology support in the larger San Joaquin Valley area.

I first became interested in archery while accompanying Courtney to the local club shoots and tournaments. We talked about how I could participate in the archery activities and found a contact in England through the British Blind Sport Association. They provided me with the information on how to shoot and officially compete using the international technique known as tactile archery. Courtney built my own equipment, since commercial equipment is not available.

In 2004, I was successful in getting the Archers Association of California to officially sanction the event and competed officially for the first time in a state outdoor tournament in Long Beach, California. In 2005, my participation in the U.S. Nationals in Colorado Springs completed the full sanctioning of visually impaired archery as a U.S. national sport.

The 2007 Paralympic Archery World Championships competition in Korea marked the first time it became fully sanctioned as a world event. Incredibly, I won the overall silver medal for the United States (menís and womenís), while setting 5 womenís world records.

Two years later, I travelled to Czech Republic to participate in the 2009 International Paralympics Archery World Championships as a member of the U.S. Paralympics World Championship team. I came in third, winning the bronze medal and breaking 2 of my world records.

My participation in archery is one of my greatest passions; in archery I am not isolated from other athletes who also enjoy the sport. Iím hoping I can inspire other people who are visually impaired to give it a try.

Janice standing with her guide dog, Liza, on a bridge overlooking Vernal Falls in Yosemite

Janice Standing with silver medal around her neck. Her Hoyt bow is in her left hand and her award for the qualifier round is in her right hand

 

I have been fortunate to have encountered many journalists since I began participating in the sport of archery. These journalists have been kind enough to interview me and take my cause seriously enough to write about in their various magazines and newspapers. This has been invaluable in helping me record my story.

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