Debra Canty

Debra Canty

Debra Canty, Second Vice President


Debra Canty serves as president of the Sumter Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).  She also serves as 2nd Vice President of the NFB of SC, Co-chairperson of NFB of SC Federation Center and Chairperson of the NFB of SC Oversight Committee of Successful Transitions. Debra’s outreach efforts are to bring blind awareness to the sight impaired and to the sighted. Debra is an advocate on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC who discusses the concerns of the blind to the seven representatives of South Carolina’s congressional districts.  Debra also serves on several committees of the NFB of SC  including chairperson/Co-Chairperson of the NFB of SC Fundraising Committee, The Scholarship, Donald C. Capps, Blind Equality Achievement Month (BEAM), Legislative, Membership, Public Relations, Doing our Fair Share, Diversity and Inclusion, Educator of the Year, Employer of the Year, Finance and We Care Committee.


Debra is a life-long resident of Sumter, South Carolina. She graduated from Sumter High School-Class of 1973 and attended Sumter Area Technical College. She has received several certificates from The Hadley School for the Blind.  She was diagnosed with an eye disease called Optic Neuritis and was totally blind at the age of 44 in 1999. She was introduced to the NFB Sumter Chapter of South Carolina by way of her dear brother, Thereyarn Pressley who met Ralph Cowley (past president of the Sumter NFB) at the Sumter Mall for the Belk Charity Day Sale.  As a result, Debra became an advocate and spokesperson for the blind, devoting most of her time and energy to issues and concerns pertaining to the blind. Debra was the first computer “Job Access with Speech” (JAWS) student with The Recovering Sight Foundation in 2004. Today, Debra serves on the Recovering Sight Foundation Board and volunteers as an instructor for basic classes for JAWS and the iPhone, as well.


In her community, Debra has been a member of the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church for 62-years, where she currently serves as a Deaconess. Her motto is, “if I can help someone along the way, then, I know that my living is not in vain”. One of her choice Scriptures is, “Then, Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”. (John 8: 12). Debra is also a strong believer of the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind: “Live the life we want, blindness isn’t what holds us back.”


In Sumter, Debra Canty was honored as a “Woman of Excellence” and also recognized at The Inaugural Women Pioneers Award Luncheon”. In March of 2023 Women’s History Month, Debra was recognized in the NFB Positive Note. In 2011, she had had the illuminating experience of her name being drawn as one of the twenty Federationists, from across the nation who rode with Mark Riccobono in Orlando for the “Blind Driver Challenge”.