I am writing on behalf of my husband. He has recently lost the sight in his right eye & we are trying desperately to save the sight in his left eye. He is 49 years old & a diabetic. The diabetes is what caused the loss of sight. Prior to this, he was an AVID AVID fisherman & hunter here in the USA since he was a small boy and misses it horribly. We sold our ranger boat last year since he could no longer see to operate it. I was very excited to read about your blind fishing boat & more importantly how you manage to do all the things you do especially all the outdoor activities. Can you give me some insight on how you learned to fish blind, let alone manuver a boat? I am trying everything to keep him motivated to try & find ways to get back in the game of life despite not having his sight. Do you have any idea how much the boat will cost USD once it is ready for sale? I know there are a lot of differences between services because we live in two different countries, but I am also interested in your computer usage options for blind people. I will continue to keep looking on your web site for your next adventure & ideas for blind people. Thank you so much for your time.
First off, I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I’d like to post your letter and my response on my web site in the “Ask Lawrence” category. This will allow others to benefit from the exchange of ideas and, who knows, it may even attract more good ideas from others in the comment section that goes with each post. I won’t publish your email address or name or any other personal information.
I can’t help with the sight loss issue, but I can offer a few suggestions and reflections based on my own transition into sightlessness.
I think it’s harder to cope with changing eye sight then it is to adjust to sightlessness itself. For more years then I can count, I was readjusting what I could or could not do and the different aids I would need. It was difficult as progress was always temporary and undone soon enough.
When I finally gave up trying to live my life as a sighted person and began to learn to live without “looking”, it was almost a relief. I could finally learn to do things certain ways and know I would never have to change again. It can take a good year though, and at times you almost feel like a small child learning to walk and feed yourself again.
The year goes by quick enough though, and before you know it your skipping along banging in to the odd thing – almost broke my nose last weekend on a hall table in my fathers new house – now wasn’t that a fine way to offer a house warming. I bent over and didn’t know there was a table there – oh well…
If your husband can keep a “window on to the world”, that’s great. I use to call my window my “aesthetic vision”. It wasn’t much good for anything but viewing sun sets and candle light, but like I said, by that point I could do most things in the dark anyway so it wasn’t crucial to my survival.
As much as it may sound defeatist, it’s never too soon to begin to learn to manage without looking. Everyone does it. We all get up in the night to use the bathroom and don’t turn on the light. Why, because we just know our homes better than we think we do. Try it, and you will be amazed just how much you can navigate in your house with your eyes shut.
With respect to computers, there are all sorts of great tools out there that can make things on the screen larger or even talk. Some of the more recent internet browsers (Internet Explorer / fire Fox, etc.) have screen magnifiers built in. Zoomtext and Magic are also two of the software programs that can make everything on your computer bigger.
JAWS and Window Eyes are two of the more popular programs that make computers talk. You can change the voices to what ever you find most comfortable, and adjust the speed to suit your ear. Speed is one of those things that you will find that you increase every few months as the ear adjusts. I listen to my computer at about 480 words per minute, which is about twice the speed the average person talks.
If you’re using screen enlargers, then you will still need the mouse. For screen readers, the mouse get’s flipped behind the monitor where it can’t get in the way. There are some touch typing training programs that come with the speech synthesizers if your husband has been a “hunt and peck” guy up until now. However, you really don’t need to be much of a typist to read emails and surf the net.
I’m sorry about having to give up the Ranger – every Bass guys dream boat. However, they are specific for Bass fishing and there are many other species of fish to catch that may or may not involve owning a boat. What I’m trying to say is that maybe your husband can take up fishing for other species of fish that doesn’t involve so much precision casting. He may choose to go back to Bass fishing after he has regained proficiency as a fisher without sight, but in the mean time, there are other ways to fish that he can take up – I’ve detailed a number of these in my Fishing Trip reports already, and more descriptions of techniques will follow.
My research on how to put together the ultimate fishing boat for someone without sight continues, so keep checking back for up-dates.
Feel free to drop me a line if you have more questions. In the mean time, keep up the hope, and time will work its magic.