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Marla Runyan

Track and Field Athlete, Road Runner and Marathon Runner who is Legally Blind. Digital Accessibility Consultant/Testing Team Lead, Perkins School for the Blind

Marla Runyan is a former world-class American track and field athlete and marathoner who is legally blind. She began losing her vision at age nine, but that never kept her from achieving excellence in sport and beyond. A two-time Olympian, an international and Paralympic champion, Marla today speaks on behalf of Perkins and is author…

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Marla Runyan is a former world-class American track and field athlete and marathoner who is legally blind. She began losing her vision at age nine, but that never kept her from achieving excellence in sport and beyond. A two-time Olympian, an international and Paralympic champion, Marla today speaks on behalf of Perkins and is author of “No Finish Line, My Life As I See It.”

She works at Perkins Solutions as a Digital Accessibility Consultant and leads the Perkins Testing Team through the review process of online spaces, helping clients improve the accessibility of their websites. Marla is also a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and taught assistive technology, physics and other subjects to Perkins students.

In 1996, Marla relocated to Eugene, ORegon and reinvented herself as a middle distance runner. With a new coach and a new goal in sight, Marla finished third at the U.S. Olympic Trials and qualified for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team in the 1500 meter event – the first time a legally blind athlete has ever accomplished such a feat. To this day Marla Runyan is considered to be one of the greatest success stories in U.S. Track and Field history. Not only has she overcome a visual impairment; she astonishingly moved from sprints and field events to middle and long distance running. Marla went on to place as the top American finisher in the Twin Cities, New York City, Boston, and Chicago Marathons finishing 1st, 4th, 5th, and 7th in those events respectively.

Marla currently holds two master’s degrees in Special Education and teaches assistive technology at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. She also serves as an Ambassador and spokesperson for Perkins, the first school for the blind in the United States.

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