By BROOKE RUTMAN
Background: Janet Hammelbacher has been living in Queens for most of her life. She grew up near Queens College and has resided in Jamaica Estates for 23 years. Hammelbacher graduated from Jamaica High School in 1975, then from Queens College in 1978. There she received a B.A. in psychology and sociology, and she went on to receive a M.A. in music therapy from New York University in 1980. She is married to Frank and has a 19-year-old daughter, Jill.
Occupation: Hammelbacher has been a music therapist at Queens Centers for Progress since 1988. Her job requires working with adults who have developmental disabilities.
Since 2004, Hammelbacher has been a freelance writer for “AccessWorld,” which is a monthly technology publication from the American Foundation for the Blind. Ten years later she published her first book, “Parenting with a Visual Impairment.”
Hammelbacher then went on to write two books that were published by the National Braille Press. In 2014, Hammelbacher wrote “Learning to Use the Mac with VoiceOver: A step-by-step guide for blind users.” In 2015, she wrote “Everything you Need to Know to Use the Mac with Yosemite and VoiceOver: A guide for blind users.”
Community Involvement: Hammelbacher is the president of Hillcrest Jewish Center.
Biggest Challenge: “My biggest challenge has been proving that if a person who is blind has the necessary skills for a job, then blindness isn’t an obstacle,” Hammelbacher said. For instance, when Janet’s daughter Jill was born, a nurse had asked her how she was going to go about taking care of her baby.
Hammelbacher says that her blindness has never been an issue, both at work or at Hillcrest.
Greatest Achievement: “It’s impossible to pick one greatest achievement,” Hammelbacher said. “There are many facets in everyone’s life, so it’s impossible to pick just one thing.”
Biggest Inspiration: “That’s a tough question,” Hammelbacher said. She said that right now, the clergy and congregants of Hillcrest Jewish Center serve as her greatest inspiration. She said that she has had the privilege of getting to know so many wonderful people.
Editor’s note: An earlier version identified Hammelbacher by her maiden name, Ingbar. We regret any confusion which may have resulted.
- Star of Queens: John Shehas, Community Board 11
- Star of Queens: Richard Hourahan, collections manager at the Queens Historical Society
- Star of Queens: Bishop Witold Mroziewski, auxiliary bishop-elect, Diocese of Brooklyn