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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.



A post by Sam Thaw

 The above photo depicts 18 yesar old Sam Thaw helping his mother Libby by reading receipts while she completes documnents for the Checkered Eye Project tax return.  This blog post was written by Sam.

 To have a parent with low vision comes with advantages and disadvantages. The latter consist of things that could be looked upon as chores, but, have made me sensitive to and aware of other people’s needs, whether they are mental or physical. Advantages include being able to sneak a little "something something" by her in the night or free 411 for our family. The so called chores consist of helping my ma cross the road or walking with her somewhere, reading articles or labels to her.

Being able to sneak something by her use to come in handy when I was younger, trying to get three cookies instead of two and sneaking paraphernalia past her. But as I grew older I realized that I felt guilty using her visual acuity to my mischievous gain. That realization was a good lesson for me. It taught me that just because you can cheat, and not get caught, doesn’t mean you should. I took that lesson and transferred it to cards, video games, and day to day life.

The chores I do to help my mother are quite easy, though as a selfish youth I sometimes secretly loathed the moment my mother wanted me to walk or read with and for her. As I grew older, I became aware that this was something I could do to make my mother’s life easier and more comfortable. I’m now happy to help her out doing whatever she needs. These chores have also made me more aware of what other people need. For example help an elderly person by grabbing something heavy or out of their reach for them.  All in all I feel like having a parent with low vision is a good experience, thanks for everything ma.



Comments: 2 Comments



When I talk about raising kids as a person with low vision and what concerns or strategies I had, there are a few things that jump to mind.  One was the importance of reading and that I wouldn't be able to model that.  I'm so relieved that my kids turned out to be readers.  I was not a good example of someone who enjoyed reading or who sought information in books so I worried that they wouldn't pick it up. Fortunately Ray is an avid reader and he read bedtime stories to them.  He also read them some novels as they got older. I think my part in encouraging reading was that, as soon as they could, I would have the kids read things for me.  I imagine that could have also been a bit of a confidence booster for them. Being a "helper" for an adult can be an ego boost for little ones.

We live in a beach town so a strategy I used when going to the beach was to have them wear large brightly colored hats.  I was doing a bit of sewing at the time so I made them myself.  It was a good thing I could do that because I wanted them really big!  They were too young to be self-conscious about them, but eventually the spectacular hats had to go.  After that, if we were on the beach, I just went everywhere with them.  If I didn't feel like swimming, it was sand sculpture and water erosion experiments till I got my energy back!  

Another practice we had was that if we were in a park and they wanted to play a distance from me they had to sing, and loud!  The alphabet was the usual song of choice and again, they only did it until they were old enough to feel it was just too uncool!  We had to develop some trust so that they could play further than arm's length from me. 


Last month I was delighted to receive a brief video greeting from Rick Mercer.  It was a 24 second spot in which the comedian gave the basic information the CEP is trying to pass along and encouraged visiting the website for more information.  It had taken a bit of begging and pleading so as soon as I got a yes from them I was over the moon. 

I immediately put it up on Youtube and shared it on my Facebook page.  Ray posted it on the Champions for the Checkered Eye Facebook page, because I couldn't figure out how to do that! 

Well, Rick Mercer got "shared" a lot more than any other checkered eye video's I post.  I suspect this is because he is a famous person, someone people recognize.  Familiarity seems to catch people's attention, so I'm now making more efforts to see if I can engage any "famous people" to help tell the whole wide world what the checkered eye means. 

If you know anyone famous, can you send them my way?!?

Comments: 1 Comment



On a recent stay in Toronto, I was unattended by my usual sighted guide and favorite human, my hubby Ray.  I used my ID cane quite a lot as it’s the best thing for traffic safety, and I was walking around very busy parts of the city.  I also kept it in hand when I entered malls, stores, and other buildings.  I found that when I had the cane out, I didn’t need to explain, or should I say convince people that I can’t see well. 

I found that in some cases people went overboard with how much they wanted to help.  Lovely.

However, more than once, when I didn’t have my cane out and mentioned that I have impaired vision, it was like the person didn’t believe me.  There were also the situations in which I did have my cane in hand, and met a person behind a counter that obscured their view of the cane.  I was regularly getting demonstrations of the need for a recognized symbol close to my face!

After the wonderful accommodation received from those who apparently thought I'm totally blind, it felt strange to return to having to explain and convince people that I actually do need their help.


I love the idea of keeping any interested parties informed, through this blog, about current CEP goings on.  I also quite like the idea that I can post the occasional bit of CEP history here.  The possibility of this being an interactive forum has excited me as well.  So I'm sure you can imagine my delight each time a comment has come in.  At first I got them one at a time, which was great.  There was no need to dedicate a long stretch of time to going through, approving or editing them, and of course composing responses to those for which one was required.

Then one day I noticed a comment had come in.  But wait, ten came in at the same time!  Wow!  I was thrilled.  I'd handed out some pamphlets recently, so I thought maybe a bunch of those people read the blog and commented!  So cool!

Can you see what's coming?  When I went in to read the comments I quickly realized that I'd been bombed by some nasty spammer! 

Thank goodness for my trusty tech support guy, Phil (of Digital Expression).  He did some of his technical magic, and I haven't received any more of those disappointing clusters of gobbledygook and sales pitches!

I am more than willing by the way to spend the time it takes to address any comments that do come in, so comment away!

I just posted a new video here and on Youtube.  It's a video promo by Rick Mercer.  Check it out.  More about that next blog post.

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