Archives August 2015

My Journey Into Guide Dog Ownership

 

 

If someone had told me four years ago that I would have a guide dog today, I would have told them not to bet on it, or they would lose for sure. After all, why would I need a guide dog? I was just about always with someone, using sighted guide, and used my cane when necessary. So how did I get from point A to point B? I suppose I should start at the beginning…

 

Up until I was 28 years old, I had what I considered good vision. My acuity was borderline in terms of getting a driver’s license, but I remember going out in our station wagon with my dad when I was about 16, with Dad in the passenger seat and me at the helm. I wasn’t doing too badly, actually, until I was backing up, and my dad asked me if I was going to stop before I hit the fence. There’s a fence back there? I didn’t ask my dad that question, I wasn’t that crazy, but I sure as heck didn’t see that fence. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I can tell you what I thought. I knew then that driving would not be a good idea for me. If I didn’t see the fence, chances were that I wouldn’t see lots of things I would have needed to see in order to be a safe driver. But I digress…

 

When I was eleven years old, well, almost eleven, I lost the vision in my right eye during surgery to repair a detached retina. I was young, and though I knew on some level it left me with vision in only one eye, I just resumed business as usual in my life. I had a couple of detached retinas in my left eye in my teenage years, and that was scary. By then I was more mature, of course, or as mature as a teenager can be, and I didn’t want to lose the vision in my left eye also. Fortunately, the last surgery I had was successful, and I was truly able to resume business as usual, getting around myself, attending high school and college, doing everything all of my friends were able to do visually except drive.

 

Fast forward to age twenty-eight. The vision in my left eye began to slightly change, and one day, just like that, I had a yellow film over three-quarters of my vision. This reduced my visual ability dramatically. Within a very short time, I was no longer able to get around independently, though I fought it tooth and nail. I would go out walking, but not with a cane, even though I did get orientation and mobility training. As a matter of fact, I would not use my cane for about twenty years. Yes, you heard that right, twenty years.

 

Then, about five years ago, after making some friends through email lists, and listening to them talk about the places they went on their own, I decided to go through a refresher course in mobility training. I did this, and thus began my journey using my cane for my journeys. That makes sense, right? After all, using a cane is a journey in itself, isn’t it?

 

So I had advanced to becoming a cane user. About time after twenty years, wouldn’t you say? But then, in the middle of 2012, I began another journey, working for Fedora. The first two friends I made were my cohorts, er, colleagues, Scott and Brie. They each have a guide dog, and were the first guide dog owners I knew since my vision had deteriorated. As I’ve traveled this wonderful path, I have met and made friends with several guide dog users, and listened to them and tales of their travels, or should I say more appropriately, independence.

 

So I began to think, sort of like I did when I decided to pick up my cane and use it to my advantage, about the possibility of getting a guide dog.

 

This was a decision that was not going to be made quite as easily as picking up the cane was. It required many months of introspection and thought. That in itself was an entire process, which I will be glad to relate, next time we meet…


Adventures In Dallas

This year my colleague and dear friend Marcy Weinberg and I attended our first American Council of the Blind (ACB) convention in Dallas, Texas and oh, what an experience it was. We learned a great deal, met some wonderful people and had a little bit of fun as well.

Our adventure began when we landed in Dallas at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. We were met by two very nice individuals who helped Marcy and I navigate through the airport so that we could get to the shuttle bus that would take us to the hotel. On the way out of the airport, my dog Jadyn, and I were nearly startled to death because a woman had entered the airport with a small dog in her arms that barked and growled at my guide dog. Oh how fun.

We made it to the shuttle unscaved and met some very nice people that were also headed to the convention. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of flying and gave me a chance to take a deep breath and relax just a little bit.

Once arriving at the Sheraton, Marcy and I figured that all would be fine. We would easily find our room, unpack, take the dogs out to park, get a bite to eat and then call it a night. Wrong!

The front desk was besieged by a bunch of blind and visually impaired individuals who apparently had the same idea that Marcy and I had and therefore due to the chaos, I gave the incorrect credit card which had to be changed the very next day. The bell hop who helped us with our luggage took us to the wrong room and I’m not even going to mention the frustration of deciphering which side of the Braille label on the elevator was the correct button to push for the floor you needed to go to!

Long story short, Marcy and I did manage,with a great deal of help, to find a place for our dogs to “park”, get a bite to eat at the hotel sports bar because it was the only place open and still serving food at the time, and we also managed to get on the correct elevator, reach the correct floor and enter the correct room where we immediately put our jammies on and crawled into bed.

We would definitely need our beauty rest because the adventure was actually just getting started and we really had no earthly idea what was in store for us.

Don’t fret. There’s more “ACB Adventures in Dallas,” coming your way. Just visit my Fedora page to read more about what Marcy and I were up to during this year’s ACB Convention.


Blink S1E2 (The Passion)

What’s your passion in life? This is the second question in my interview.

I ask this question because I want to know what drives them everyday.

I love technology and it shows in just about anything that I do.

What are our realist say about their passions simply astounds me every time I hear them speak about them.

Fedora can train for skill, but passion is something each associate brings with them.

Listen to the second episode in the Blink reality show and share your passion in the comment section below.


Blink S1E1 (Tell Us Just A Little)

Welcome to the season premier of Blink.

We are seeking to change the world and employ as many blind and deaf-blind individuals as possible!

This episode I ask the question from all the realist “Tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, how you lost your sight and some of the tools that you’ve used along your journey”

Their answers will simply amaze you.

Stay tuned for the Wednesday Wildcard for even more empowerment. Details to follow.

Remember to leave a comment below.