Each year during Canada’s White Cane Week the Checkered Eye Project does a little extra awareness boost. Our main focus is of course ensuring that as many people as possible understand that if they see someone wearing the checkered eye symbol, it means that person is communicating the fact that they are on the blindness spectrum. We also include information about the different kinds of white canes used by people on the blindness spectrum, and that’s not just because the occasion is called “White Cane Week”, it’s part of our ongoing awareness effort.
Well this year is 20 20. Many people are using references to this number as if it applies to vision.: Let’s focus, it’s 20 20, 20 20 a year of vision, watch out it’s 20 20…
You can likely imagine that I saw this coming for a few years. I figured I should be doing something big in the year 2020 and started working on some promo items last year. I wasn’t sure how I’d use them so they were designed in a way that they’d be useful on an ongoing basis.
I worked with my trusty graphics guy and came up with some posters that I think are really cool.
I was very excited to show people the accessible versions of the posters and some inexpensive gadgets that businesses could use to make existing information accessible.
I also enlisted a few friends to help me host an awareness event, possibly a series of them, and decided to call it a “Drop In”. I came up with some activities people can try doing without sight or with impaired sight, arranged a room for the event, and was ready to have our last meeting to finalize room set up, when something very sad happened.
My brother Steve passed away suddenly.
I cancelled the event and went to spend some time with my family.
The drop in had been scheduled to take place on the last day of white cane week which is the first week of February. This can be a terrible time to plan events where I live, in an area referred to as the snow belt. A silver lining is glimmering slightly as a postponement could mean better likelihood of people being interested in coming out to an event.
Steve is actually prominently featured on one of the promotional posters I’d created for the 2020 drop in. It’s a poster that states “People on the blindness spectrum achieve. Accessibility helps make things happen.” The poster was supposed to have a photo of a few individuals and either their logo or a depiction of them doing something cool. I’d requested these images from a few people on the spectrum who are achieving impressive stuff, one of whom was Steve. I had a photo of one of his stunning landscape paintings and a great one of him taking pictures in his studio set up. He’s definitely one of the people I know who demonstrated the point that, if all you know about a person is that they have a disability, you don’t know what they can or can’t do.
However, the only images that were of adequate resolution to enlarge were the ones I had of Steve.
The “blind people achieve” poster had been the final one worked on and I was now going to have to ask for replacement photos in a rush. I decided not to do that and by this time, I was cutting it close, so, in order to have the poster produced on time, I went ahead with just Steve’s images and some open space. I planned to print the other images separately and add those people later, possibly different ones each time I do the event.
So, due to the sad event in late January, and the result of a seemingly insignificant organizational shortcoming, the first drop in will be scheduled during better travelling weather, and my brother Steve will forever be featured on a poster involved in contributing to the greater good of people on the blindness spectrum. I’m thinking of calling the event The Steve Kennedy Memorial Checkered Eye Drop In. Or maybe I’ll save that title for when I do the one with the live music called The Checkered Eye Ball! He was a music fan too. We’ll see!