Last week I got a call from an inspiring lady. Leanne called to order some checkered eyes for a friend. He has low vision and doesn’t use a cane for mobility so, like me, he is often mistaken as fully sighted. She said her friend looks a bit like a rough character even though he is a real sweetheart. She said she’s pretty sure people assume he’s drunk or on something if he stumbles in public. She was heartbroken that he had fallen recently and not a single person offered him a hand. Leanne mentioned that her friend doesn’t have a lot of money so I offered to send his order at no charge. Leanne wouldn’t hear of it, she insisted on paying; she wants to help with our awareness effort.
She was also more than a bit upset with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). She said she had spoken to three different people there and no one would tell her anything about how to find checkered eyes. I have called many of their offices to give them the checkered eye Project’s phone number and web address, and also asked if they could make this information available to all front line contact people. I think this makes sense since people naturally assume the checkered eye is a CNIB project. However, I was told that they wouldn’t make this information available to their info line staff as it isn’t one of their products or services.
Fortunately for Leanne’s friend she persisted and found the checkered eye website. She also has offered to help him inform people in his community about the checkered eye. I always send pamphlets and info cards with all mail orders to help checkered eye users do just that. The symbol works best when people are already aware of it and its meaning so each user can bring information to friends and family and to the businesses they frequent. That way those of us who use it are pioneers and will make the checkered eye more effective for those who follow.
Hats off to Leanne and people like her who take care of their own and do what they can for the greater good.