George Covington: A Man Who Assumed He Could

George Covington: A Man Who Assumed He Could

By Bonnie Rennie


What an exhilarating way to spend an hour!  I interviewed Mr. George Covington for this article.  If you don't know this charter member of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision [now the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International], you should! His story and accomplishments have much to teach us.


George's careers and skills have included: journalism, satire writing, photography as a legally blind person, accessible design, and disability advocacy at the highest levels of government in Washington, DC.


He was a federal employee who refused to become a bureaucrat, and instead, got his projects done! Mr. Covington used his knowledge of how things work in Washington and superb networking talents to help him intervene on behalf of people with disabilities.


During our phone conversation, George's clever witticisms came thick and fast! His observations on politics, the perpetual state of Washington, and of human foibles were priceless.  Sadly, they could not make it to these pages.  Suffice to say, he would make a fabulous dinner guest!


This first of two articles will focus on Mr. Covington's background, and his adventures in our nation's capital.  In a subsequent article, I will say more about the artist and writer side of this visually impaired pioneer.


George grew up in East Texas and is now semi-retired in the West Texas High Desert area, called the Big Bend, of the Rio Grande River, that is.  He says his low vision became apparent at around age 13 but was not diagnosed until mid adulthood due to its rare presentation. 


"A lot of your tax dollars were spent on trying to diagnose me," he quipped.  "Now they would call it age-related macular degeneration."  He says he did not use a cane until around 1988, just before going to work for then Vice President Dan Quayle's office in 1989.  More on his adaptations to his low vision will appear later.