I sometimes feel it is wrong to say that I couldn’t have picked a better time to become blind, but it’s true. There is so much going on with the technology now a days, that I really am blessed to have lost my vision when I did.
One thing that I always will want to do, is to recognize the people who have been blind, or visually impaired for many years, or their whole lives. I can not imagine being in their shoes, and admire them most of all.
I suppose that each generation of blind persons are met with challenges that define who they are, and what they are able to become. The struggles that shaped the past will never be forgotten, and so much has been learned that will benefit visually impaired people far into the future.
I can only try to imagine how difficult it was for people years ago. They didn’t know any other way though. They did what they had to do in order to live their lives to the best of their ability, and to the best according to their surroundings. They were always finding ways to explore, discover, achieve, overcome, accomplish, and nothing ever stopped their determined souls from creating a better world for themselves, and for us today. I thank God that as the years passed, there were so many incredibly gifted, and hard working blind folk to set the course and blaze the trail that we all could follow.
?These times that we are in now are moving so incredibly fast, as far as technology. I have seen so many wonderful advancements in accessibility in just the past year alone. I have always been a tecky geek of sorts, and was always amazed with modern advances in the tech world. It truly was an amazing thing to see how fast the new stuff came flying at us. As the old saying goes, when you bought a new computer, and got it home and out of the box, it was already out of date. I can remember the first Pentium computer that we bought. It had a gigabyte hard drive that the salesman said we would never fill up. He was right, for about six months, then I was constantly trying to find space on the stupid thing. It was a never ending battle that I eventually lost, and we had to go get another modern advancement in technology.
I can remember one day I walked into Radio Shack, that’s right, Radio Shack, and they had a pc on display with a sixteen gigabyte hard drive. I drooled all the way home, and couldn’t stop thinking how ancient I felt with my second computer, which was a four gigabyte system. These days, the operating system alone takes around ten gigabytes of space. Who would have known?
Computers have taken on a whole new life for me in this last year. I used to use them for entertainment. Games, movies, and games, and chat and more games. I was always finding fun things to do with my computer. It had a whole different definition for me back then.
These days, I rely on my pc to stay in touch, and to stay independent. I can not imagine my life without my pc and internet access. I do different things on my pc these days. Writing has become a passion of mine that I never would have figured would play such a big role in my life. If I could not write, I am sure that I would find other avenues to communicate, but it wouldn’t be any where near the same.
I love my pc, and I love to write. I also rely on it to take care of emailing, gathering news, and my music passions. I tunes and an IPod touch, well, there’s another thing that I would feel lost without, my iPod touch. So many wonderful apps, and so much accessibility. It truly is a wonder in and of itself. I have around three hundred music cd’s on my iPod, and I have started running through the songs alphabetically about two months ago. I am up to the letter “I”, and with the different apps, I can listen to all of my favorite talk radio stations, streaming music stations, Sponge Bob Maarbles, and so much more. Ya, you heard me right, smile.
I also have to tell you of the wonderful advancements that I have seen in our local city of Waterville. I have been having mobility lessons in the city since summer 2010, and I have learned, with the help of my instructor, to be able to travel through the city streets, independantly. The intersections have always proven to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I hate intersections, and can feel my blood pressure rise at just the thought of having to maneuver through them with my cane. Absolutely hated it. There are just so many variables that can change the outcome of cane travel throughout the city. Driver inattention, probably the hardest thing to predict, has given me cause to pause on many a day.
Over the summer, the city of Waterville has been upgrading it’s pedestrian crossing systems with a new audible system, and I can tell you, I was one of the most surprised people in the area. Some of the systems, the light clusters and pedestrian systems were so antiquated and out of date, they really were not very user friendly. I can remember one day, at one particular intersection, the walk signal was still lit, while the traffic light turned green. We were told by the city, that there was probably a timing issue. Ya think?
These new systems are a marvel of modern technology that I can only describe as a gift from heaven. They have tactile arrow push buttons, an digital voice that tells you when, and where to cross. The buttons vibrate when the walk signal is lit. The volume level increases with added road noise. There is a beeping indicator to assist you in finding the control poles, and digital displays of how much time is left for the crossing period. I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift.
If this is the shape of things to come, then I am waiting in line with a smile.
I could go on and on and on, but as you can see, I am very excited at the possibilities of accessibility in the years to come. I know that being handicapped comes with it a sense of ability and purpose. I also know that ability lies inside each of us, and it is up to us to do the research, and make the effort to find out just how we can make our lives better. We are all we have, and all that we are is exactly what we need.
Perfect timing? As usual, I pause when I start to say that I couldn’t have picked a better time to become blind. It just never seems like the right thing to say.
I pause no more, I say what I believe, I believe what I feel, and I feel I am truly blessed.