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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.

Blog

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A change of blog format

“Blog” is a shortened version of the term “web log”.  To me a log is a record of what happened when. I keep a log of all checkered eye phone calls for example, containing dates, phone numbers, and details of the conversations.  I’m noticing that the common use of the term log in the contemporary word blog is different.  This is why I have felt like I should choose a topic that is relevant to the Checkered Eye Project (CEP) and write a little essay or article each month. 

I think writing stuff like that is fine however I think I will go more toward the roots of the word blog and do a bit of simply logging what’s been going on.

Some of the entries may be brief like: All the CEP did this month was send orders, including one for a custom t-shirt bearing the checkered eye, had a few conversations with an enthusiastic supporter of the CEP who works for CNIB, and got the Mount Forest Chamber of Commerce to publish a blurb.  Some might be even more brief but really exciting like: This month I was invited to a face to face meeting with the Senior Director of Health and Wellness Promotion at Loblaws Company Limited where she agreed to come up with a “communication” regarding the checkered eye and its meaning for distribution in 2016.

So, sometimes I may still write an essay.  Other times I’ll record the CEP activities of the month.  You never know, I may still post a photo or two.

In case you’re wondering, all of the above noted CEP activities did happen in September 2015.

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Beautiful Hazards

Beautiful but hazardous for blind people

 

I was walking along the main street in my little town the other day and encountered a tall gentleman using a mobility cane.  Being familiar with the surroundings I wanted to caution him about the hanging flower baskets.  Not all but some of them are directly over the sidewalks and as the season goes on they hang lower and lower. I introduced myself and mentioned that I’m on the town’s accessibility advisory committee and asked if he had encountered any of the low hanging flowers.  He said that they hadn’t caused him any difficulty.

As we chatted I learned that his name was Bruce and that he had lost a significant amount of vision only a year and a half ago and that he and I have very different visual impairments.  He has only central vision and I have only peripheral. 

So for Bruce obstacles that protrude into walkways or that overhang them can be particularly hazardous.  When a person uses a mobility cane, it only detects things on or very near the ground.  Overhead baskets, awnings, and signage are often undetectable and can cause injury. 

So before we parted I also warned Bruce about an outdoor patio nearby, where the sun umbrellas extend outside their fenced off area, and were likely at about eye level for him.  I had gone into this particular restaurant and explained this hazard to one of their managers but the umbrellas remain in the same location and height.

 

I understand how it would not occur to many people that these types of things would be a problem for a blind person.  Fewer than three percent of Canadians have a vision disability so we can’t expect everyone else to know what we need or what causes us difficulty.  Speaking up can help.  I get a bit cranky when I feel like I might have to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream, and even then I may not get results.

 

Oh well, the kicking and screaming will continue!

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Blind Airline Passenger

Any time I travel alone on an airline I always call ahead to request assistance and I always have my white ID cane in hand when I arrive.  I only carry the cane so people recognize my blindness, as it is not apparent. It usually serves its intended purpose however, once people notice that I can see quite a bit, the cane as a symbol sometimes seems to lose its validity.

On my recent trip, since carrying the cane along with luggage can be a challenge, I decided to try going without it. 

So when I called to inform the airline that I’m a disabled traveler and would need   assistance, I told them that I don’t use a white cane but that I wear a checkered eye symbol instead.  I informed them that this was a wearable symbol for low vision and that they could see it at checkeredeye.com. 

It worked! 

Since I had made arrangements for assistance by phone there was no need to make explanations to the service personnel once we met.  I took each opportunity to ask these staff members if they already knew the checkered eye and to my delight, some of them did. 

So the checkered eye was as effective as the ID cane in regards to the assistive staff.  The only time I used the ID cane was when, after an assistant had shown me where the ladies room was and I told her I could find my way back to the waiting area, I had it in hand so the other travelers would allow me back into the “special” seating area without explanation.  I was very glad I had the white cane for that situation because it was a very crowded time and people had moved into the area where we disabled travelers had been placed, including into my seat.  As soon as they saw me with my cane they very politely excused themselves.  Phew!

I am now reaching out to cruise lines in hopes that they also will accept checkered eye information to distribute to their staff and be able to add that bit of understanding to customer care for their demographic which likely has a relatively high percentage of people with low vision.  Fingers crossed!

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