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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.




I recently had an opportunity to tape a 30 minute segment on a health related talk show.  In the weeks before the taping I’d made myself abit nervous about it.  Which are the most important points?  How will I make sure to get to them all?  How will I get it to flow in a sequence that makes the most sense? I wrote many drafts of outlines to send to Carol Merton, the host of the show then finally, contacted her to ask if we could discuss it before the taping date.

Carol was very generous with her time and we had our telephone meeting on a weekend.

Carol let me know that her usual plan of action is to start from the beginning.  In the first 7 or 8 minutes of the show she goes through an introduction of the guest and the basics of the topic. 

This didn’t go with what I’d written!  I thought we’d talk about blindness in general at first, get to the white cane and how it had started off as a symbol only, then when I’d talk about how it’s no longer as well understood in its function as just a symbol, I’d segue into talking about the checkered eye.

So I decided to rewrite my outline to go along with Carol’s standard procedure.  After all, she’s the expert here.  Well actually, in our phone chat Carol had mentioned that I am the expert on the checkered eye…I had a light bulb moment: If we have a full 30 minutes to sit and talk about the checkered eye project, surely I can manage to get around to the most important points about it!

Again life reminded me to be present, do my best in the moment, and trust myself to deal with the outcome.  

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The Checkered Eye Project is working to get some information to the world. We want people to understand that the checkered eye symbol indicates that its wearer has low vision.  We also want people with low vision to know this wearable symbol is an option for them, and how to get one if they want to try it.

Access to information has historically had major barriers for people with poor or no vision. Braille, audio formats, and adaptive features for computers have all helped quite a bit with that.

So I am now doing a lot of reading and writing.  This can be tough because the information, the tool with which I’m trying to improve one little thing for people with low vision, isn’t always accessible to me.  Then there are the situations when I am reading and writing in my capacity as a volunteer member of the local Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC).  In that scenario I am commenting on safety issues for people with vision disabilities, and also access to information. 

On occasion the document I am asked to read is not accessible to me and my friend Tracey at the Municipal office is terrific for doing what she can until she has a version that’s accessible to me.


I’m no literary expert, but I think this fits the definition of ironic.


From Irony: atechniqueofindicating,asthroughcharacterorplotdevelopment,anintentionorattitudeoppositetothat which isactuallyorostensiblystated.


So here I am doing my little part to help make the world more accessible to people with disabilities by doing something that my own disability makes difficult.  This was painfully (yes painfully) demonstrated lately when I was looking into adding my two cents to the review of the customer service segment of Ontario’s accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).  I’d like to make it clear that there are plenty of people with vision disabilities who use computers with adaptive software and are quite proficient at it.  I however am not one of those people.  What makes it worse just lately is that my set up is getting old and therefore it fails me quite regularly.


So I wanted to comment on a law.  In my opinion one should be familiar with something that one wishes to discuss.  So I read it.  I read it.  Such a short and simple sentence to describe the process of seeking, finding, attempting to read, failing, restarting my computer, trying again, quitting, going for a walk, trying again, throwing myself on the floor, blogging, trying again……..


Is it like the people with physical disabilities building the ramps? 

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Just a thought.

Dare mighty things?


Sometimes you need to conjure up a lot of gumption just to go to the corner store.  This is particularly relevant to people who are new to operating with reduced vision.


Due to recent goings on within my circle of acquaintances I have been reminded to take stock of what’s actually important to me.  What really matters? 


For a long time I’ve felt it was most important to “dare mighty things” as is outlined in a favorite quote of mine.  The same thing that is expressed by that song that says “if you get the choice to sit it out or dance I hope you dance”. 


I still do think those things are important.  I do think life is less regretful if you give things your best shot rather than choosing not to risk failure.


These days however I’m also noticing the importance of being able to be okay with the here and now that may or may not involve mighty things.  And the definition of mighty things can have great variation.


If you’ve been given a diagnosis that states you may have less than a year to live, do you get busy with your bucket list?  Sure.  If there’s stuff you’ve been planning or waiting on, now’s the time to go for it.  However, my thinking lately is that it’s even more important to be present for whatever’s going on RIGHT NOW.  If you are sitting out this dance, isn’t it best to take note of the music, the feel of your chair, the person with whom you are sitting?  How you are feeling about all that stuff?


I’ve noticed that some blind people find that they get great pats on the back for just walking down the street.  Some view this as pity.  Some take it as a kindness and feel good about it.  I can imagine that someone who knows nothing about living without sight might think it is a mighty thing you are doing.  Well, for some it is no big deal, for others it is a huge deal. Take a compliment!


Of course there is value in being daring sometimes in life, and it’s also important to be present for whatever is going on while it’s going on.  If you’re looking forward to the moment when you’ll be daring or back at moments where you were, you’re missing all the rest.


Here is the quote I mentioned earlier.

In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.

The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually
strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt



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