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Blind man hears, feels his way to mechanic degree

Associated Press • Jun 17, 2014 at 3:14 PM

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A blind New Mexico man who recently earned an auto mechanics degree is looking for a job.Clifford Alderson, 48, a graduate from a joint New Mexico State University-Dona Ana Community College program, earned his degree by listening and learning to feel his way around the vehicle, KOAT-TV reports.Born with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that led to his blindness, Alderson got his on-the-job training at a small auto shop in Alamogordo and plans on making a career out of his talents.His mother has the disease, as does his 15-year-old daughter, Lydia."When I graduated it didn't feel like I graduated. I felt like I was in a dream," said Alderson, who walks with a collapsible cane.Damian Orchard, of All Makes Automotive, says, for the most part, he could just tell Alderson what needed to be done on a car and Alderson takes care of the rest."A good majority of (the repairs) I could turn Cliff loose, once I told him what we needed to do," Orchard said.Orchard said among the repairs Alderson can tackle are brake jobs, shocks, water and power steering pumps, alternators, and changing hoses.Joe Retana, a professor at the auto mechanics program, said Alderson is an enthusiastic person who never let any disability get in the way."He's very exciting and he's a go-getter," Retana said. "Nothing seems to stop him."Alderson said he hopes he has inspired his daughter by graduating.Alderson has not landed a full-time job but says he's optimistic.

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