Giving sight to visually impaired anglers
By Justin Hoffman
The word is full of inspirational figures. In the fishing and outdoors field, Lawrence Euteneier is one of them. His love affair with angling and boating began at age 5, with cane pole, plywood punt, and a pond stocked with trout. Fishing at the family cottage became a rite of summer. By age 8, however, he was registered as blind. Although adversity often makes one stronger, it also made this Ottawa angler more determined. The diagnosis was not going to slow him down. “For 20 years I owned and operated a 12-foot aluminium boat” he said. “By age 25, I could no longer see enough to go out on my own, and I began dreaming about a technology that would allow me to navigate. For 15 years, I pestered a local Canadian company, HumanWare, to build me a GPS system that I could use on the water. Their latest offering, the Trekker Breeze, has addressed many of my requirements.” Not content with this alone, Euteneier went on to invent the world’s first fishing boat for the blind, weighing 90 pounds and running at up to four miles per hour.
His latest creation, the world’s first talking fishing boat, is a 20-foot power catamaran that utilizes synthesized speech.
“With assistance from my sponsors, I’ve been able to focus on developing interest to anglers with vision loss” he said. “This includes talking compasses, GPS, depth sounders, and beeping homing and obstacle-detection devices.”
With 11 million North Americans estimated to be living with significant vision loss, and with this number expected to rise with an aging population, the work Euteneier does is opening the doors to many.
“My goal is that everyone with vision loss will have the opportunity to learn about and try fishing” he said.
Not content with this alone, Euteneier also enjoys canoe camping, competitive dragon-boat racing, triathlons and participating in a celebrity blind car race. He’s also a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General for his work in breaking down barriers for people with disabilities. “I’m likely the only blind person in Ontario to have a hunting licence, and I used it to participate in the spring bear hunt” he said. “I would forgo the tree stand and instead place myself about 25 feet from the bait. I generally got my bear- a large, furry, black target on a bright green background. When I didn’t though, being run over by a startled animal was always a potential hazard”.
Lawrence Euteneier is a champion for the visually impaired. Not only is he passionate, caring and innovative, he’s also one of the most down to earth and friendly guys you could ever wish to meet. The fishing world is lucky to have him among its ranks.
To learn more about Euteneier’s work, visit: www.blindfishingboat.com