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The Checkered Eye Project

People wearing this symbol have partial blindness aka low vision.



Various versions/Stage door

A while before Christmas, I heard from a fellow in Victoria, BC. He had noticed that there are several pins now available that are intended to communicate low vision. He was collecting samples of them to send to CNIB and ask if they plan to get behind one and help with public awareness. I sent him some checkered eyes of course.

He wrote to the CEO John Rafferty, and proposed a plan, one that would cost CNIB nothing, to explore wearable symbol possibilities; whether there was a need for or any interest in such a thing. Weeks later, he called again to let me know his letter and idea seem to have been ignored by Mr. Rafferty.

Meanwhile, my associate in Pittsburgh, Stephanae McCoy, discovered another low vision pin. This one says "I have low vision" and depicts 3 adorable little mice wearing dark glasses.

Some organizations of and for blind people have declined to support awareness of the checkered eye, stating that there’s no need for it.  You want a symbol? Here's your white cane. That's the international symbol for blindness. That's what we support. Case closed.

So why are they popping up all over the place?


On a lighter note, I saw Blue Rodeo recently. Well, I couldn't really "see" them. I didn't have the greatest seats but I did have my binoculars. They were fantastic. It was a terrific performance, and I was amazed at how anyone could get the sound so clear in a stadium.

Before attending a theatre show a number of years ago, I called to see if they had accommodation for those of us who can't see well. Their answer was no. While writing this blog post, I decided to call around and discovered that some places do have arrangements for people with impaired vision. The policies vary from place to place, so it's worth calling ahead.

So, not having made this discovery until after going to see Blue Rodeo, I didn't have the greatest seats for their show.

But, about a week before, I impulsively e-mailed their "people" to see if I could send them checkered eye booster shirts and see if any of them would wear one on stage. I actually got a hold of someone! She was delightful and said that although they couldn't wear it on stage, since they wear stage clothes, they'd accept a shirt. I wanted to wise crack about how I could add feathers or sequins, but didn't. I did however, ask if I could hand deliver it as I'd be at their show in London. She said I could mail one shirt to her office. K, fine, good.

But then we continued our chat and she said the subject matter was close to her heart. It turns out that Blue Rodeo’s bass player, Bazil, has a brother who has low vision. Ultimately she asked if I'd like to bring the shirts, one for each band member, to the stage door at 6:30. I said yes!

I was very excited when I arrived at the RBC Centre and approached the first person I encountered who looked like staff. “Can you tell me where the stage door is” I blurted. The older gentleman looked at me with suspicion. I stood a bit straighter and showed him my package of t-shirts, as if this would give me some credibility. “I was told to meet Bazil at the stage door”. I guess that was all he needed because he told me to continue along this wall to a door marked “media and security”.

Ray walked with me down the side of the building. I think I might have been skipping – it was cold! We found the door and walked in. There didn’t seem to be any media people there but there was a very serious looking uniformed man seated at a desk behind a window in the wall. I told him I was supposed to meet Bazil at 6:30. He didn’t seem to know who this Bazil was because he made me repeat myself then got out his walkie talkie. Before I had a chance to get worried, a door opened and there was Bazil. He shook my hand and invited us in. The serious guy behind the glass protested. I think maybe a pass was flashed but I don’t know. We were allowed in is what I know.

Bazil and Ray and I had quite a nice little chin wag. He was already aware of the checkered eye, something I love to hear. Having grown up with a sibling who has low vision, Bazil can relate to some of the stuff Ray experiences living with me. They both had a little chuckle about watching TV from behind someone sitting within arm’s length of the box. Yup, I was the remote control for my Mom back in the 70s. He was very sweet and posed for a photo with me. Ray snapped only one, so me with my eyes closed will have to do. I’m glad the checkered eye poster is prominent and Bazil looks great.

I’m not sure how much impact this will have on the public awareness effort, but a few more people know about the checkered eye and I think it’s pretty cool that each member of one of the finer Canadian bands has a checkered eye t-shirt.

Comments: 2 Comments



  • Comment by Phil on Mar 1, 2013

    I didn't even know there were other symbols. So now you not only have to work toward making people aware of the Checkered Eye, and deal with the CNIB who want nothing to do with it, but also compete with other symbols?

  • Comment by Libby on Mar 1, 2013

    Hi Phil. Some of the other buttons just say "I have low vision", some include a white cane and now there's the aforementioned one with the three blind mice.

    The Checkered Eye Project will keep working toward public awareness and see what the public decides.

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