visit tracker on tumblr
Jesse Neider

STORIES & SERIES: BEYOND THE DARK (formerly titled Unseen)


At 19 years old, Hector and Jessica discovered they would be having a baby. The couple faced the reality of having to care for a child while struggling with their own limitations.

Beyond the Dark is the story of a young, blind couple starting a family and striving to independently raise their sighted daughter. The half-hour documentary explores the challenging economic, social, and personal barriers to parenting with a disability. “I want everything to be different than my life,” says Jessica, “I want her to have a real childhood.”

Beyond the Dark confronts the uncertainty of the family’s future in a society that often defines the visually impaired by their disability.

Watch the Beyond the Dark Trailer

Jessica runs her hand along the wall, utilizing it as a guide while she walks down the stairs. She feels more comfortable traveling through a space where she is able to use her other senses to better understand her surroundings.
Hector listens to the sound of their baby’s heartbeat on the monitor as Jessica gets an examination at the free clinic in their hometown. Both Hector and Jessica receive disability benefits and their medical coverage is provided under Medicaid.
With guidance from a nurse, Hector runs his hands over his newborn daughter’s face for the first time. He remembers’ “ I was freaked out. I was crying, I was happy that my baby was coming out. I was thinking finally she came out, finally I get to see how she looks, finally I get to touch her and feel her.”
Hector raises his face toward the afternoon sun while waiting for his mobility instructor on a cold winter day in Bridgeport, Conn. Hector works with his trainer on strengthening his ability to travel independently using a cane and his other senses.
Jessica feels her daughter’s hand while Hector places a stuffed bear next to her on the couch. Jessica says, “I won’t put anybody ahead of her. She goes first now in my life. She’s my priority. Yeah I can teach her as a mom, but she can teach me as a kid. She can probably do thing I never could.”
Hector and Jessica lay in bed with their daughter, Yerica, before falling asleep for the night. The couple, often stressed by the challenges presented by their visual disability, has made their daughter the top priority in their lives. When thinking about the future Hector says, “We have to learn how to handle it, you know. I hope we will be in a better environment than this, better house, better stuff for my daughter. I hope I can handle raising her.”
Hector often becomes overwhelmed by external stimulus when he is outside of his home. As a copping mechanism, he will sometimes withdraw inward and become very quiet and still in public settings.
Jessica, who has been visually impaired since birth, breathes a sigh of relief when she is finally taken to a patient room after giving birth to a son. Jessica, who’s says her mother was abusive when she was growing up, always wanted to be a mom. Despite the challenges of being visually impaired, she insists, “ I have to be a better mom than my mom.”