Positively Buffalo: Blind accountant looks beyond the numbers


We managed to find some positivity on tax day.

One Western New York accountant sets himself apart from the rest.

The Wheatfield native says he’s fairly good with numbers.

He’s been an accountant for the past 38 years and he’s spent almost all his professional career blind.

When Randy Giannini began his career in 1979, he could see.

Little did he know, 7 years later, the diabetes he was diagnosed with at 18 would take his sight.

“In 1986 when they told me I wasn’t able to get my vision back I said well ‘what am I going to do?’ And I said to myself ‘well I’ve been doing it for a year with the help of others… I’m just going to continue to do that. So I bought this building and opened up my practice,” said Giannini.

He doesn’t let his disability hold him back.

He went to a school for the blind when he lost his sight.

He says teachers gave him helpful suggestions for how to go about daily life.

He leans on his memory and his service dog Mia, and he envisions numbers in his head.

“I still mentally see that tax form… you know… they haven’t changed in all those years when I used to hand write them,” said Giannini.

He’s never relied on brail because he’s never learned it.

“I’m not a very good blind person,” said Giannini.

When he first lost his sight, New York state didn’t allow him to take the CPA exam.

He wrote to the state, pleading for them not to discriminate.

“There’s a lot of things people can do even though they’re handicapped,” said Giannini.

These days, he files more than 1,700 tax returns every year.

“I make sure that what I’m expecting is on the return when I get done with the return,” said Giannini.

He also gets by with a little help.

Steven Smith is his volunteer bookkeeper.

He’s also his best friend.

“It’s amazing that he remembers the software program. He knows the software program better than anything. We work the mouse and read the papers but he’s the brains,” said Smith.

He not only files taxes without his sight… he washes the car, rides ziplines over Niagara Falls and even races Marathons.

“We used to run with a telephone cord and he would lead and I would control it with the cord and people would want to know who the blind person is because he would always run up front,” said Smith.

Randy says one of his most defining moments was running the Olympic torch through the streets of Niagara Falls in 1996.

“He took it all in stride. I can’t believe — I mean I know it must have affected him — inside but he wouldn’t show it hardly at all,” said Smith.

His friends and family say he’s their inspiration, someone who helps them overcome any obstacle life throws their way.

“You can do what you want to do,” said Giannini.

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