Although he never completed course work in interior design, his education came through personal experience – a “hands-on degree,” as he calls it. For 30 years, Kizere worked in residential, commercial and hospitality design, owning his own company and working with other design firms before retiring to Arizona.
Three and a half years ago, Kizere had what he jokingly calls his “tennis accident.” A brain tumor the size of a tennis ball robbed him of most of his sight. “I like to coat it with humor,” said Kizere. “It sounds better to say ‘tennis accident’ than ‘brain tumor’. You really have to relearn everything in your life, which I did not realize. I had to learn the correct way of getting out of bed in the morning and how to keep going without running into the wall.”
Kizere attended the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Tucson to learn how to live independently as a person with a visual impairment. “I met lots of good people and the training was excellent,” he said. “While I was there, I made the decision I needed a dog in my life. I saw one person with a dog guide and saw what a difference it made. She was so vivacious and did not hesitate to go anywhere.”
He was accepted to three schools and made his final selection after all the interviews. “The Seeing Eye showed the most professionalism, rising above the others, so they’re stuck with me!” Kizere laughed. “They gave me the best dog in the world. I was pretty good with the cane; fast and independent. But with Mayor, I don’t feel restricted at all. Interestingly, when he is at the groomer I feel like a blind man. With him I am just out there doing what I need to do.”
After losing his vision, Kizere reopened his design company, Robert Vaughn Designs Inc. “Vaughn is my middle name. It is easier to say than Kizere. Basically the work is quite similar to what I did before. Things take me a little longer now and transportation can be a challenge.”
Kizere relies on screen-reading software on his computer and public transportation to get to his clients. “I can still see colors, textures and shapes; the only thing that is really different is my depth perception. I have to physically feel the size of a room or the depth of a table. For measuring I rely on my clients or a talking tape measure. I just can’t rely on my remaining