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.

Photo Friday: Nature – As I’ve Never Seen It

One of the most amazing things about my photography is the fact that my camera has allowed me to actually see the world around me in a whole new way. I am good at framing shots, and I can visualize whatI want the shot to be, but it really is an Aim, Pray, Shoot situation for me. And that makes for some wonderful, surprisingly awesome photos.

As I explained in my first Photo Friday post, I don’t see details past a few inches or so, but when I view my photos on my computer screen, I am transported to another level of beauty. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to see what so many people take for granted.

For example, this week I was roaming around my friend’s beautiful garden in California – something I do every time I’m here because the landscape is ever-changing. I was taking random shots of some of the rock garden, when I thought I detected movement. So I took a chance – and pressed the shutter. This little guy emerged from out of what I thought was simply the rock face.

Earlier in the summer, when the flowers were in full bloom, I hears a bee buzzing around me, and saw a tiny gold speck hover over some lovely purple flowers. So, I went for it. And I was astonished at what I captured, right down to the tiny veins in the wings.

My photo walks in this garden produced a photo of a white poppy dancing in the breeze that I loved so much that I created greeting cards and gave them to my gardener friend who makes all these beautiful shots possible.

Windblown Poppy

Her name is Barbara. And she’s legally blind.

Nothing is impossible, people. The creation of beauty, the nurturing of living things, and how we interpret our world for others to enjoy is as special and diverse as everyone on the planet. And you don’t need to see it all to make a difference.

 

Photo Friday – LA Photowalk, Pershing Square, November 2011

I’m right in the middle of my BlogWorld and New Media Expo adventure – and I have the pics to prove it! I’ll be posting them shortly after the show ends, but for this Photo Friday I thought I’d showcase the pics I took on a solitary photowalk I did of Pershing Square this past Wednesday. I had a grand time taking shots of the varied and interesting buildings and structures in this charming square.

I hope you enjoy them.





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!