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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.



What can sighted people do?

In a brain storming session for some awareness posters related to the checkered eye, it was suggested that we address the question: okay, now I know what it means, what do I do?

My immediate reaction was “nothing”. Wearing a checkered eye or carrying an I.D. cane is not supposed to elicit action from onlookers. It is to add the little bit of information “I can’t see well”. The cane is mostly to communicate this to drivers and the wearable checkered eye is to inform people I’m engaging with face to face.

The whole idea that a disability necessarily indicates “help” is needed drives me nuts. This is not to say that help is never needed, but the idea that having a disability means that help is always needed rubs me the wrong way.

I had to agree however, that people do want to know “how does this effect me”. So I have begun a list of bullet points under the heading “What can sighted people do”.

- Help spread awareness of the symbol.

- Businesses train staff to “check for the checkered eye”

- If it seems the person needs assistance, ask first.

- In restaurants, offer accessible menus such as large print, braille, electronic.

- Common courtesy is often all that is needed. Sensitivity to special needs is always appreciated.

Can you suggest other points?

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Crazy Airplane Stunt

I'm going to pull a 60 ton plane across the tarmac by myself!

I'm getting a bit cranky about how slow this awareness effort is going so I've decided to ramp things up a bit.  Here's a press release I've been sending out in hopes of catching some attention:

Partially sighted Grandmother to single handedly pull 60 ton plane for Sight.

Orbis, with their flying eye hospital has an annual fund raiser involving teams pulling a giant cargo plane. The Checkered Eye Project educates about the blindness spectrum and the wearable symbol for partial blindness, the checkered eye. Both need public awareness so checkered eye creator Libby Thaw plans to single handedly pull the 60-ton jet to raise funds and understanding.

Like moving this big plane, informing the entire world about what the checkered eye symbol means is an enormous task. I’ve been working at it for over 18 years and I’m not getting any younger. Since It’s still not widely recognized I’m trying this crazy stunt to boost awareness.

On Sunday June 9th, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, groups of up to 20 people will gather to see if they can pull a 60 ton jet 20 feet for fund raising team building and fun. Libby will be a team of one.

Here's a link to my fundraising page:…

So that press release has resulted in a few local outlets interviewing me so far.  I hope some more will show up at the event. 

Regardless of professional camera crews, I will have some photos and videos taken on the big day and share that later.  

I've already got some pics and videos of me "in training".

Holly and Frank at Fitness corner graciously allowwed me to use their facility and were a lot of fun at the shoot.

At the plane pull I plan to wear a very flamboyant outfit and mingle around at least informing the people there about the checkered eye. 

I'm thrilled to say that I've received what I think is a substantial amount of donations from the bit of press and social media.  It's quite heart warming.  I've also had an increase in traffic on the Checkered Eye Project website recently so I think this little awareness booster has been a success before I even go the the airport!

I'm looking forward to wearing my checkered outfit, complete with checkered high heels and outrageous hat, and talking to lots of people!   

A very moving day!

I did it!  I moved the plane!

I’m looking at it much like a metaphor for the Checkered Eye Project. I set out to do it on my own, and with the help of some generous individuals, things got rolling!

My turn to pull the plane was the last on the schedule so I had lots of time to mingle and enlist assistants. This was the most moving part of the day because every single person I asked to help said yes. I’d tell them about the checkered eye and that I was doing this to improve awareness. They said yes to both my request to help spread the word and to help me move the plane on the off chance that I couldn’t do it on my own.

I enlisted such great help from the crowd that once the blocks were off the wheels, that plane was moving fast! It was over in seconds! Then there were hugs and high fives and the announcer even let me on the mic to have a bit of a say about the white cane and the checkered eye.

All in all, it was a wonderful day for me and the Checkered Eye Project. Even though I didn’t catch the eye of any journalists, I had a great time meeting new people, informing them about the checkered eye, and getting to wear some custom couture!!

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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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