Friday, February 27, 2009

An Introduction: If I could see what you see...

... what a better world it would be!

Five years ago my world came crashing down when I lost almost all of my vision. I was born blind but was able to see colours, shapes, shadows, and light. Then, when I was a teen I received one of the most precious gifts in life; new vision due to a cornea transplant. My whole world suddenly opened up and expanded, and my life changed drastically. My new life lasted for almost 25 years but sadly, it came to a sudden, unexpected end on one of the coldest Canadian winter days in January of 2004. On that day, as fat snowflakes chased each other outside and the frigid winds howled at the landscape, doctors crowded into an operating room in downtown Toronto to try to save my sight. The team of surgeons and residents fought valiantly, but in the end they had to admit defeat.

My retina had detached in three places; it was one of the worst detachments that they had ever seen and blood had trickled in to the eye causing damage to the cornea. The end result was devastating: 99% of my vision was gone and it was to herald the start of a new path for me. While it is true that I was born with a visual impairment – to put it more bluntly, I was born blind -- but what most of the world does not fully realize is this: Every bit of vision counts and when you go from being able to see light to barely seeing shadows, the change is traumatic!

I have spent the last five years living as a person who is almost totally blind. I have gone from a kid with useful vision, to a teen with a lot of vision, to someone who is now fighting to keep my head above water in the fall years of my career. As a realist, I know that as I approach retirement within the next decade, life is only going to get more challenging for me. However, I am not prepared to limit my life, shrink my world, or change my persona in any way. And, I fully realize I am not alone. Many are facing challenges and becoming part of the special-needs community, especially as the population ages.

No, what I am going to do is produce blogs that you can use to help others. To help your kids overcome challenges, show your parents and friends how to deal with disabilities and drawbacks, and make companies and governments accountable to you whenever they fail to respect your rights as human beings.

I am going to use my life experiences and skills as an accessibility and special-needs business consultant to help you.

My most heartfelt mission is to ensure that the children of the future have equal access to information and job opportunities. I have many supporters and motivators to keep me going, and whenever I feel myself stumbling all I need to do is to remember the final words of my brother Robert who succumbed to cancer in May of 2007.

As he began his final approach to the other side, he managed to take one last look at his wife and doctor and softly plead, "Somebody do something!" It breaks my heart every time I think of his plea, and that they were unable to do anything.

But I know I can do something…something to help. I faithfully promise that I will not give up.

So, I invite you now to walk with me, and during our time together I will tell you all about some of the most common problems that you could and would encounter both as a person with a disability and/or someone who knows someone with a disability. I will also provide you with suggestions and solutions from both myself and from others.

Until next…

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