Leaving My Lane

Watching Olympic track and field events probably did it. Suddenly, I found myself telling my good friend Lorraine about something that happened when I was around eight or nine – something I hadn’t thought about for a long time.

Because of my severe visual impairment, I wasn’t allowed in sports. It was assumed that too much contact could detach my already delicate retina and leave me totally blind. So, for the most part, I watched.

But then I discovered that I liked to run, and to my surprise, I was good at it. When it came time to participate in a small local track event, I was excited. And then, I was told that I wouldn’t be running. Despite the fact that I had been in races before, and had done very well, it was decided that I couldn’t compete because I “might not see the lines and stray out of my lane”. I was devastated, and watched as the girl they replaced me with finished dead last in the race I had been so ready for. I never ran again. And the experience stayed with me for many years. I was all too aware of my boundaries.

But now, at 58, I am learning to embrace the joy of veering out of my lane. My life experiences, both good and bad, have helped. And my photography has really set me free.

My creaky knees won’t let me run anymore. But watch me fly:-)

Photo Friday – Sharing the Spotlight

This week, I was honoured and thrilled to be featured in an article in The Daily Dot called Seeing through Pictures, which focused on how my newly-found passion for photography has affected how I literally see my world.

It’s an understatement to say that I’ve been blown away by the response to the article. I can’t thank people enough for all the Facebook posts, tweets and retweets and notes of encouragement and affection. It thrilled my family. It made me proud, and more determined than ever to take my passion and run with it. Thank you.

But the piece wasn’t just about me. So I want to make doubly sure the spotlight shines on the others mentioned in the article – because they are and will continue to be my inspiration.

First, check out the amazing Tara Miller, who’s already been featured in an earlier post. Her work is phenomenal. Then go to Flickr and discover the brilliance and diversity of the Blind Photographers group. I guarantee you will gain a new understanding and appreciation of the many ways visually impaired people see what is often taken for granted. I doubt you’ll look at us and your world in the same way.

And last, but not least, thank you to The Daly Dot and to contributor Lorraine Murphy, for giving its readers a new perspective and for giving us a voice. It doesn’t happen often enough.

I’m Ready for BlogWorld – but Is It Ready for Me?


In a few short days I’m headed for Los Angeles and my first-ever BlogWorld and New Media Expo conference. I’m beyond excited…so much to see and do, so many people to meet, and reconnect with again.

But is BlogWorld ready for this legally blind attendee? Or seniors or anyone with physical challenges? Large conferences can be daunting for people with sight, hearing or motor impairments, so I’ll be sharing my experiences and offering my perspective over the course of the three-day event. I hope my observation are helpful to all conference organizers out there.

Here are some of the things I’ll be paying close attention to, based on what’s important to me.

Signage – Are all signs large enough to be seen? Are there enough of them? Can the content of these signs be read easily? Are meeting rooms easy to find and identify?

Stairs and Glass Doors – Are stairs and glass doors clearly marked? I’ve tumbled down more than a few stairs and run into several glass doors in my time:-(

Lighting – Is there adequate light in all meeting rooms and corridors?

Audio – Are the sound systems adequate, with no muddiness or distortion?

Power Outlets – (One of my pet peeves) Are outlets easily identified? Are there enough of them? Are some outlets at mid-wall height and not all at floor level? And are power cords out of the way and not trip hazards?

Elevators and Ramps - Are all meeting rooms accessible via ramps and elevators?

Assistance – Are conference staff and volunteers trained and prepared to help disabled people if required?

Many of you may read this and this that my wish list is unnecessary – of course this is a no-brainer. And in a perfect world, I wouldn’t even have to mention anything. But it’s not a perfect world, and we still encounter more obstacles than you may imagine. So I may vent a bit. But I’ll also applaud, loudly, whenever I can.

If you face some challenges and are planning to attend BlogWorld, or if you have an experience or suggestion to share, please comment below, or contact me. I’d love to hear from you!

I Have Found Another Hero

I have many heroes – my mother, who raised three girls alone in the early 60s, my niece, who copes every day with chronic illness, so many friends who have bourne great loss over the past few years.

But this woman – Tara Miller – is an inspiration for me because she shares my passion for photography, and has made a living doing what she loves in spite of being legally blind like me. I hope I get to meet her someday. Her work is nothing short of awesome. Way to go, Tara. Keep kicking butt. I love your vision.

Take a look at the article and embedded video.

It’s All About Tracy Today

Lives can change forever in an instant. This family’s life has, and it will be tough.

On Sunday September 4th while cycling alone near Blue Mountain in Collingwood Ontario, Tracy Dort-Kyne crashed her bike on Scenic Caves Road and suffered a life-changing Complete C3/C4 spinal cord injury. She had been training for The Centurion road race. Tracy was flown by air-ambulance to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and remains in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. Tracy is a single mom of 3 young boys and may be in the hospital for several months.

Though I’ve never met Tracy, I know and love her sister Lesley Dort, and there is no one stronger and more resilient. I have no doubt that this fighting spirit is a family trait, and everyone is holding everyone else together. But there are mountains to scale and sad, scared kids to comfort.

Please help, with anything you can – prayers, donations, support. They’re even looking for help with the WordPress site.

Thank you! And this Thanksgiving, hold your loved ones close and be thankful for what you have. Because it can be taken away at any time.