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Blind woman foresees trends for IDF

Despite being blind from birth, Cece has been working in classified role in elite IDF intelligence unit for past 15 years

She may be blind, but Cece's foresight has profound significance for Israel's national security. For the past 15 years, Cece, 40, has been serving in the IDF's Unit 8200 – a division charged with collecting data that predicts developments in neighboring countries.


Cece, who was born blind, never wanted any special treatment. She attended regular schools and got a university degree. At the age of 25, when she learned about a program that integrates the blind in the Intelligence Corps, she lunged at the chance to enlist.


She prides herself on her talent for languages; while her role is classified, she was allowed to reveal that she deals with texts in Arabic. Her work heavily depends on computer usage.


"Cece is an exceptional person all around," Command Sergeant Major Avishay says. "She is unfazed by her disability. She would never give you the sense that she has any difficulty being the best at what she does. It's amazing. She does things that seeing people don't."


In addition to the important work she does for the army, she also acts as a member of the Central Library for the Blind's board of directors, promotes the issue of accessibility and travels abroad.


Like Cece, her ex-husband is visually impaired. But their son is not.


"He has been aware of it from a very young age," she says of her son. "We have made sure he knows that we cannot see… He developed verbal skills very early, because he realized that if he doesn't talk to us, it would be difficult for us to understand what he wants."


Under pressure

Her early days at the unit weren't easy.


"I had to overcome the professional barrier as well as break the ice, which isn't always simple," she says. "There comes a point when people realize that we aren't different.


"These days, for instance, young soldiers who are just starting out rely on me professionally and ask for my advice and my help," she adds.


Working well under pressure is imperative in her line of work, and Cece prides herself on this particular skill.


"There are situations when we have to work fast and pass on the information, and it has to be done precisely," she says. "Sometimes I see people around me stressing out and not working fast enough, while I manage to stay cool and composed.


"I know some officials at the unit were worried about integrating someone who cannot see," she notes. "I felt people whispering behind my back. But I leveled with people and did my job well, until they figured out that it's not so bad."


The initial discomfort, Cece says, emanates from the fact that people don't often deal with blind or handicapped individuals. People she meets often make extra efforts not to offend her.


"Once, I had a conversation with someone about a television show, and he asked me, 'Did you watch it?'" she recalls. "He immediately apologized, but I explained that I did watch it. I watch with my ears."


She dispels myths that blind people have an extra sense.


"I believe that my hearing and my sense of smell are quite sharp, because I use them more. I can talk with someone at a restaurant and still be aware of what's going on at the tables around me. But any myths about being able to discern a person's character from their voice are not true. It's nonsense.


"My impairment has a different advantage," she says. "There are certain things that are better unseen, even in my line of work. Scenes of horror and stuff like that. At least in those cases I don't have to experience it through my eyes."



פרסום ראשון: 06.05.12, 07:11
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