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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.

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Accessible prescriptions.

In Ontario we have a law called the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA. Part of what is now required of businesses in Ontario is to have a policy stating how they will manage accessibility issues.

As a person with a vision disability access to information is a major challenge for me.

There is a lot of information squeezed onto many drug containers, prescription or not. Picture the size of the font on your average bottle of headache pills. Does it give you a headache?

Once I was aware that drug stores are supposed to have some process in place by which they would make the information they distribute accessible, I began requesting accessible information on my prescriptions.

After what I would call a lot of “the runaround”, I made a hard copy of what I’d like on the prescription I get every 3 months, and brought it up to show my pharmacist. I was assured that there had been a note entered on my file and things should meet my request from then on. That was in January of 2017. They have never succeeded so far. Each time I pick up my meds, I check it and see that they haven’t done anything differently. Each time they go back and see that yes there is a note on my file. And each time they do it while I wait.

I have brought them up literature about the various methods by which prescriptions can be rendered accessible. One pharmacist said it was really hard to do what I was asking and also let me know in a “quit bugging me” kind of way that I was the only one asking for this.

I called another drug store in town to find out what they do. On the first call the pharmacist seemed completely unaware of what I was getting at. She told me she’d look into it and get back to me. I called back a few days later and she told me they use a system by which they send the information to a company called “Scriptalk” and they send the customer a device that can read the specialized tag they put on their bottle. Fantastic. When I asked a few questions about this she said they’d never done it for anyone so far. I let her know that they are required by the AODA to make it known to the public that they provide this service.

I’d switch to that pharmacy but mine is within walking distance.

I’m doing my best to respect the fact that these people are trying to run a business and that I am making requests that are unusual. I am speaking for myself and those who may not be as comfortable with voicing their needs. I am working at being polite about it.

I heard a quote the other day “Nothing changes till someone’s an asshole about it”. Ihope that’s not always true.

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The Checkered Eye Ball!

On Sunday, May 6th, 2018,I had a ball at the first ever Checkered Eye Ball! Five different bands performed and kept everyone grooving. People were interested in the blindness simulations. The Old Nick, a downtown Toronto bar where we held the event, had a busier than usual Sunday, and the Checkered Eye Project told some more folks that people wearing the checkered eye symbol are on the blindness spectrum.

We gave away and sold some items that are not only very cool, they help inform others about what the symbol means. My favorites of these items are the "smashed checkers" t-shirts and the "Blindness is a Spectrum" t-shirts.  I also like the coasters very much.

We had 2 types of blindness simulations: low tech and high tech.  The low tech ones were glasses with the lenses obscured in various ways to depict different eye conditions.  I've noticed however, that depicting a central blind spot with glasses is not likely to give an acurate impression to peopl with average sight, as they will naturally "look around" the spot we put on the lenses.  So, I had a computer simulation devised, using eye tracking hardware.  This is way more "freaky" according to the average sighted people who tried it, and found that the blind spot followed there gaze whereever they placed it.  

I personally enjoyed chatting with all the generous people who contributed to the days success, and of course putting on an over the top stage outfit and singing some jazzy little numbers!

There will be more Checkered Eye Balls so stay tuned for one near you!

 

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First White Cane Walk

Today for the first time ever I walked uptown and back carrying my white ID cane the whole time.  I’ve had one for many years and used it lots when I’m travelling  on my own but never here in my home town.  I still don’t need it to feel my way around but since my sight has deteriorated a bit recently and I’ve been having a bit more trouble determining whether or not there is a car coming, I decided it’s safer to use it than not. The gorgeous sunshine made the idea of a walk very appealing but it also makes it difficult for me to see.

A few months ago I scrapped the quick and convenient transport of my bicycle, unless of course I’m taking a particularly safe route and the lighting is just right, and of course it’s not rush minute here in teeny weeny Port Elgin. So today when I had a few errands to run and my driver was not available, I took out my little traffic safety beacon and headed out on foot.

Actually, I second guessed my decision several times before I left the house. It all happened within the few minutes it took to put on my coat and shoes; maybe I’ll leave it in my purse till I’m walking back with the sun in my eyes…but no, there’s that trouble spot right up the block…well I can just get it out then…but sometimes a situation arises unexpectedly when I wish I had it in my hand… okay, I’m getting it out now and keeping it out!

So that’s what I did.  It was fine.  Nobody pointed and laughed.  Nobody called me a faker when I looked at my watch.  Oh yeah but there was that girl in the bank who looked at my cane and asked if I was going to wack people.  I think she was intellectually challenged so I said no and then asked her if she knew what the cane meant.  She said no so I told her it means I can’t see well, pointed to my checkered eye and told her it means the same thing.  She said “you should have a dog” and walked away!  I irritated myself for a second and then just chuckled.  What can you do!?.

All in all, it was a good experience.  I didn’t feel self-conscious and I did feel safer.  It was the right thing to do today.

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