For the second year in a row Blind Fishing Boat exhibited at the Ottawa Valley Sportsman Show as an invited guest of the show’s organizer, Dave Arbor. This is the forth year for this show and attendance continues to grow with numbers reaching 10,000.
Attendies to the Show are made up of serious fishers and hunters. Exhibiters are fishing and hunting equipment retailers and outfitters. My objective was to increase awareness and ensure a broad exceptance of people with disabilities as full participants in the outdoor community. It’s also my goal to encourage the sport fishing sector to adopt ways of making their service and product offerings more accessible to all.
The Porta-Bote with the Minn Kota trolling motor was on promonant display along with the decals and logos of all the sponsors of the Blind Fishing Boat. The exhibit also included interactive elements such as a working audible sonar device set up on the table and broadcasting over two speakers, several tactile maps, Braille /print business cards and a double-sided handout with photos describing the project. A glass display case was used to showcase the various electronic devices.
Joining me at my table was Simon Melrose of the Mira Guide Dog Foundation. Simon brought a demonstration dog with him and along with my Maestro visitors received information about not only the Blind fishing Boat, but Mira and the great work they are training 200 service dogs a year. Approximately $400 in donations were received for Mira over the 2.5 days.
Highlights from the Show for the Blind Fishing Boat included:
– An offer of support from the Department of National Defence’s President of their fishing club;
– A request from a lure manufacturer to find a solution to include Braille on their lures;
-Strong interest from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to support the initiative;
-A request from the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability to exhibit and demonstrate the Blind Fishing boat at this year’s National Youth Exchange taking place in Ottawa June 28 to July 2;
-An invitation from the producers of the Renegade Bass radio show to be a featured guest;
-Requests for assistance from several northern resorts and a salmon charter business on Lake Ontario to assist with making their services more user-friendly to people with sight impairments;
An invitation from the owner of R&M Argo to make use of their private lakes in western Quebec for trialing the Blind Fishing Boat;
A product sponsorship from Northam Fishing Tackle in the form of a variety of spinner baits, and an invitation to participate in the production of a product promotion video later this summer;
-An invitation to participate at the Pembrook Sportsman Show later this month, and the Toronto Sportsman Show next March;
-Meeting fishers regarded as experts in their fields, and renewing old friendships; and,
-Shaking hands with hundreds of fishers who took the time to learn about the Blind Fishing Boat and to wish me luck with the venture.
For my next Show I’d like to include additional audible sonar devices on the table as they perform a dual duty; they serve as a live demonstration, and they alert me to people at the table (since I don’t look blind and if I don’t hear the person approach the table I have no way of knowing someone is waiting for me to initiate conversation). I will also produce an abridged version of the “Blind Etiquette” multiple choice questionair I wrote as part of my undergraduate thesis. There will be six questions on one side of the page and the answers and explanations on the reverse. It would also be great to have a Blind Fishing Boat simulator. It could employ a trolling motor tiller handle with directional, throttle, and forward/reverse controls, and a set of headphones that would convey the same sounds I hear when operating the Blind Fishing Boat. A blindfold wouldn’t be necessary. A simulator would be the best tool for educating people about how a Blind Fishing Boat works.