Naysayers Do Not Hinder Blind Massage Therapist

Blindness did not stop a Pennsylvania woman from attaining her goal.

Blind since birth, Rania Ismail refuses to listen to pessimists. A graduate of Warren Hills Regional High School, she was often discouraged by wet blankets in her goal to become a massage therapist. Nonetheless, this marks her third year in the profession of her dreams at Michael’s Salon in Hackettstown, Pennsylvania.

“Some people didn’t think that I could be a massage therapist due to my blindness,” remembers Ismail. Ismail suffered a neck injury when she was 14 years old, which left her in chronic pain. In 1999, after the injury, she began receiving massage therapy – her only form of relief. This experience influenced her on her chosen profession. However, because of her disability she needed to take a few extra steps to attain her goal.

Ismail’s first step after graduating from high school was completing an eight-month independent living program at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland. This step was crucial in training her to live on her own. Then she looked into massage-therapist training programs meeting resistance all along the way. The challenge was to find a school that could accommodate a blind student. Most people she dealt with did not believe she could handle the workload of school and career.

“People continued trying to convince me not to go back to school and work toward my goal,” reflects Ismail. “Some people wanted me to gain work experience instead of encouraging me to go back to school to finish what I had worked so hard to achieve.” In September 2009, she finally attended the Institute of Therapeutic Massage in Passaic County and graduated in July 2010. Three months later Michael’s Salon hired her and she became a state certified massage therapist in 2011.

Joe Ruffalo, president of National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey is not surprised by Ismail’s achievements. “Those who are blind are taught early on that we are no different than those who are able to see, our accomplishments just may take a little more planning and a couple extra steps,” he notes. “This mindset allows them to eliminate all negativity, and push forward through the resistance, just as Rania did.”


ASIS Massage School ( offers transpersonal massage therapy trainings dedicated to the whole person. In a nurturing environment, students are invited to take the time and space needed for deep learning to occur.


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