In this page I share a little bit about myself. Clicking on the section title opens that section for viewing and clicking it again closes it.
I was born with a condition known as ANIRIDIA which I inherited from my father. As a result of this I have never known good vision with my best vision was as a child but still being legally blind.
Through most of my life, possibly excepting very early childhood, I have had useful vision only from the left eye. The right eye developed a large cataract at an early age (prior to elementary school) to render its view mostly useless. Due to this, I have monocular vision and very poor depth perception (which is a function of the brain provided by comparing the image from both eyes).
Aniridia is tied to the PAX6 gene in DNA and therefore people affected by this can have a variety of health conditions. When Aniridia was first named it was thought the disease was limited to missing or deformed Iris of the eye. Research over the years have shown the PAX6 gene is important to many areas of the body development. Aniridia will be discussed elsewhere on this website and across the internet. For this document, how it affects me is all that will be covered.
Aniridia affects me with the following conditions:
I consider myself fortunate to have at least some sight as many people do not. Although my vision is bad, I also feel fortunate that for most of my life I have had enough vision to be mostly self supportive.
During my early school years, the big push
was to have me wear glasses. Only my mother
seemed to understand that glasses did not
help improve my vision to any usable
difference at any distance other than very
close. So there was an ongoing battle so
to speak between my mother and the school
teachers and administrators to what was
best for the student, although my
mother was the one that really knew the
answer. NOT that I am against the wearing
of glasses, but what is right for each
individual should be judged based upon THAT
person instead of some general policy. I
always found it interesting that they were
going to force glasses but did NOT have ANY
other options for visually impaired students
such as counselors, teacher training, or even
allowing the student to sit near the chalkboard
or have other students share notes with them!
So much for what is best for the student!
Sadly it is hard to write about vision
issues without addressing the reality of
bullying. Whether a person wears glasses
(to help themselves see better) or has a
physical difference, some bully will be more
than happy to point out that fact repeatedly.
I have found two ways to counter bullying.
First, simply ignore them. Bullies thrive on
REACTION, so no reaction and it takes away
their fun. This does not mean their comments
are not hurtful, just that it is better off to
not let them know about it. Secondly, correct
them. A common phrase for somebody who wears
four eyes. If I felt I had
to respond I would say something like,
I still have TWO eyes and also glasses to help
me see better. Go back to biology and learn
something instead of spreading ignorance!
My personal opinion is that a known bully (in
school or at a job) should be sent through a
sensitivity course. Repeat offenders should
receive grades dropped (at school) or be fired
(at work). The only way to stop a bully (aside
from ignoring them) is to have a REAL penalty
for their actions AND teach them alternate
I credit my mother for teaching me this:
Focus on what you CAN do rather than
what you cannot do! I will not lie by
saying I never felt sorry for myself along
the road of life. That happens a lot, but
is usually overridden by great joy of
accomplishment when I get some task done
which I wanted to do. A lot of times I
tough it out during the
rough times and endure as best I can.
Living with low vision presents MANY challenges. Our ability to function will depend upon our perception of the things around us. I have heard people complain about how their situation is horrible because they have 20/40 vision now and cannot do some things they used to, and there I am with the best vision in my life was 20/250! Do not get me wrong here, I DO understand that their circumstance IS difficult for them. Its just that we often forget that others have it worse. I have SOME vision, some people have NONE.
My mother and I used to play a
She would ask me to describe what I saw around
us, then she would tell me what she saw. It
seems like a very lopsided game, as she would
of course have much more to report. It was a
way for her to understand my visual viewpoint.
However, it helped ME quite a bit also. I would
listen as she described things and relate that
to what I saw.
So that greenish circular
blob is really a bush. After awhile I
would be saying what I saw and ALSO guessing
what some objects were, usually being right
(as she confirmed it).
I credit this game for teaching me some VERY IMPORTANT detection skills. Identifying steps, curbs, or varied levels of sidewalks often can be done recognizing shadows or slight changes in brightness or hue. Windows and glass doors may be detected by reflection or indication of movement where it would not be expected.
Depth perception can also be mimicked by the changes in the image over time. So I would see a greenish blob from a distance, then as closer could detect more of a shape, then as very close could see leaves or branches. Thus I learned to tell how far away an object was based upon the amount of detail it had. Identifying if something ahead is stationary or moving (such as other pedestrians) is accomplished about the same way. If one object moves differently from the others in a frame by frame comparison, it is probably moving.
Another vision tool is memory and experience. As I experience certain conditions, I can put them in memory so I will be prepared in advance next time that is encountered. So if I find a low hanging tree branch, uneven sidewalk or other trip hazard, the next time I go that way I will know to treat that place with care. It is not always reliable as things can change from time to time, but it IS helpful.
Visual aids are more available today than when
I was growing up. If I am going someplace which
I am not familiar with, I bring binoculars to
help me identify things. At home I have a device
video document enlarger. It uses
a camera to view the object on the tray and has
a large LED monitor to display that image. With
manual or remote control, I can enlarge the image
on the monitor until I can comfortably see it.
I use this all of the time to do paperwork, sort
mail, and read packages or cooking instructions.
I also have a much smaller version of this which
I can take with me to other places to read menus,
maps, paperwork, or many other things. If you
are interested in visual aids, please visit my
vision resource page, where there is a section
about vision information that includes visual
aids with descriptions and some photos.
Within the past few years I have also used some technology to help me get around in new places. I frequently use Google Maps to investigate how to get to places I need to go to and what the area looks like. So if I have to go to a certain address, I search for that and can then investigate. After looking at the cross streets and where nearby bus or train stops are, I invoke the satellite function so I can look around the area before I get there. I look for sidewalks I can use, objects I could identify to help me know where I am (such as a park that would be one block before I have to turn left, etc), color of buildings around (helps with orientation), and traffic signals where I can cross streets. I can spend a few hours doing this research prior to my trip, but it will usually save me a lot of frustration DURING the trip so it is worth a lot to me. My cell phone also has GPS and Google Maps, so that helps me pinpoint my current location as a guide to what I figured out with my prior research. Even though I cannot read street names from the cell phone small map, I can usually figure it out from other things or often I make a large printout of the map from my prior research.
So while it IS difficult to deal with limited vision, there are positive ways to counteract some of those limitations.
I am proud to say that I have done several things in my life which nobody, even myself, thought I would ever do. In high school my classmates predicted that I would be the first on welfare and be there for life. But I spent my final months as a senior spliting study time between school work and the TV/Radio correspondence course I was taking to jump start my career, without my classmates knowing this. I had my first job in TV repair less than a year after high school graduation and for the next 27 years I was never unemployed for more than 2 months. So much for the prediction!
After doing TV/Radio repair for several years, I had an accidental opportunity to learn computer repair. I also began learning computer programming to make some of our test software and expanded that to help organize my personal life also.
In association with the computer repair, I also worked with a school district. I gave training to teachers on computer usage and wrote software to help them create and grade student tests.
Although it was not a paying job, I did some volunteer work at a school for deaf and blind students as an assistant. It was a very rewarding and emotional experience which I an proud to have done.
Later in life I accomplished working for one company for 20 years stocking at a major grocery chain. While that was not as my choice of career, it did provide an income and was overall a great experience.
I continue my love for computer programming even today. Though age and some physical problems have slowed me down a bit, I can still find my place operating my websites and keeping up with the advancement of Internet browser functions.
From even before I can remember doing stuff, my life has been filled with enjoyment of the outdoors.
There was early childhood at the house by the lake where we had frog or turtle races down the driveway and fireflies in a jar. Swimming with the fishes, hikes to the Point, and row row row the boat gently across the lake. The winter brought sled and saucer rides on the ice or tobogganing at nearby hills.
Late childhood found us on MANY family outings, with a lot of day trips or weekend excursions to a collection of favorite or sometimes unknown destinations. I enjoyed the wildlife refuges with migrating birds, state park trail hiking, the occasional cave exploration, several zoos and a safari now and then, mountain trails and sand dune hills, river rafting, and many horsey back events.
On trips to the big city, there was enjoyment
doing the elevator, escalator, and revolving
rides in the buildings.
On most outings, the family dog(s) would be with us. Over the years we had a variety of pets even beyond dogs and cats. Almost all of our dogs and cats were strays who adopted us in various ways or we rescued them from shelters. A good dog is a wonderful companion, where as cats pretty much could care less but are still great when they are purring.
As an adult, I still love the relaxation of hiking wilderness areas. The peacefulness in getting away from city noise and hearing only natures sounds. Watching the birds gliding through the air or the fish swim in the water, hearing frogs croak, some wildlife scamper across the path, and detecting rustling brush from some unseen critters. Life at its best.
Hiking is not only relaxing, it is also exercise. This year I have been somewhat monitoring my daily step counts. Although I know that I walk a lot, having a report of mileage and calories burned is interesting.
From when I was very young I have enjoyed
writing poems and stories. Maybe some of
the influence was because my mother was a
walking dictionary (meant as a
compliment, unless competing in Scrabble).
Words are a great way to express feelings.
Combine that with my very warped sense of humor and often excessive wild imagination, the result has been some pretty wacky stuff.
During one year of high school, I had a very good English teacher and also a creative writing teacher. My English teacher taught me the power of using words to convey my thoughts. The creative writing course brought out my inner beast of self expression. Between my friend Carl and me, we brought the creative writing teacher to laughter and tears at the same time. He appreciated our creative style (so we passed the course), but often shook his head in disbelief at the weird stories we presented either together or individually.
Some of the stories I did during my school years include:
Quarter Of A Million
An elaborate jewel heist and the thieves get away with everything they deserve.
My version of an old time favorite
The Clown Knows
Police try to investigate a circus that is suspected of international smuggling.
Sallys In The Closet
When a new kid comes to their school, some mean bullies think they have an easy target.
Life Beyond The Farm
When the barnyard animals hear what a horse experienced during a ride, they decide to take action.
Once he finds out what the government is planning to do with his invention, a scientist wants it back.
tribute to the teacher during the
final week of class, which he gave us extra
credit for even though we did not expect it.
Before many holidays I would write short stories or poems about Santa Claus, Reindeer, the Easter Bunny, or Thanksgiving Turkeys. Not all of them ended well for our heroes, but I thought they were very funny and that was the point. While this was kind of a tradition to me, I cannot force write something on a time deadline. Ideas come at the least expected times and when they do they flow rapidly.
I have written material not related to holidays or any specific events. I have written several poems about friends, one of which is on the Friends page of this website.
Whether meant to be touching, funny, or just express a thought, I like creative writing a lot and really enjoy the experience.
I will include creative THINKING in this group too. Not everything that crosses my mind gets put on paper. This includes almost all of my dreams, sadly most being very negative (in the lines of nightmares) and of things I would really not care to think about at all.
There tends to be some daydreaming too. Mostly limited to periods of inactivity OR solitude. My mind likes to operate (race) and does not care to be idle, which often is not good. Few people know (until now) that I had my own TV show for many years, all inside of my mind. That seemed to be more of an escape though, if I was struggling with something in my real life my mind would create a situation for my shows character and run a scenario. Kind of cool yet at the same time kind of scary.
When I started computer repair, the shop already had some diagnostic machines and a few software programs to run during testing the computers after repair. With a little free time here and there I started looking into that software to figure out how it worked. Soon I was creating my own software and was thrilled that I could tell a computer what to do!
Over the years, computer programming has changed a great deal. There are a variety of languages, and the ever increasing scope of features which are available to use. Way back we had a possible THREE colors to work with, now the palette is almost unlimited. Resolution has improved dramatically also.
I still find it interesting that I can tell a computer what to do. I especially appreciate having the ability to create my own software for any specific need I have.
Website programming is very similar to other software creation, except that the target audience is a website visitor rather than myself.
I have a few other interests than what are listed above.
I enjoy watching movies or listening to music. My favorite movies are comedy and/or action although there are some dramas I like. My choice of music is rather wide. I like some classical and instrumental, country (1970-1990 more than others), pop, and some rock. I like a variety of artists, but not all of the songs by even my favorite artists.
I enjoy doing things or creating things.
Generally that means staying active. Probably
toy are Legos. I can create
most anything I want with my Lego collection
and when I am done, take it down and pack it
away so they can be used again. Fun and
recyclable! I will often pull out the Scrabble
set and play a four player round by myself.
Just like playing with my mother years back I
I have written many games for my own usage on computer. Mostly these are a quick break from doing other work. I pick a game, play a few rounds, then return to what I was doing. Its just a short time but proves relaxing anyway.
I often try to figure out how things work. I have been known to take something apart just to see how it does whatever it does. I have the mechanism of a music box with my knick knacks as a tribute to this interest of mine.