Sometimes, I Surprise Myself

For me, photography means more than getting that perfect shot – although I work as hard as anyone else at consciously perfecting that impeccable plate of food, or conveying the excitement of an event. I can do that. I HAVE done that. And I love the opportunity to do that.

This is one of my favourites. I love sushi. And no matter how many times I see this shot, I am instantly craving this meal again.

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But, as much as I want my strengths an abilities to open other people’s eyes, sometimes there are photos that pop up on my computer screen that surprise the heck out of me. And some take my breath away.

I get a thrill I can’t really describe when I discover an image, a moment in time, that I hadn’t set up, or spent time thinking about. They just HAPPENED – and they give me a glimpse of the world that I didn’t expect to see.  And those glimpses mean the world to me, because I never would have noticed.

That’s my #EyeOpener. I invite you to discover yours. It’s an awesome experience.

Here are a few serendipitous moments I am amazed and blessed to have.

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In my only-ever trip to Paris, I stumbled upon this pair and took this in mid-discussion. I took it so quickly, I wasn’t at all sure I had a clear shot. I was ecstatic to see that it indeed had turned out!

And in the pic below, I found these two soldiers observing a Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver. I didn’t have to see their faces to feel their dignity and respect.

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Then, of course, there was the bee…all I saw was a flash of yellow, so I held my breath and prayed. And then, I hit the shutter. I’m grateful I did.

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Extending a Helping Hand – Literally

My good friend and fellow Metro Blenz News Squad teamate Bonnie Sainsbury wrote a great post the other day about the Ask Me! button campaign that will alert visitors to Vancouver’s Olympic Games that the wearer of the Ask Me! button is friendly, approachable and helpful.  It’s a wonderful way to break the ice for people who may feel shy or intimidated at the thought of talking to strangers, and I encourage everyone to read Bonnie’s post and pick up a button.

But not everyone will be able to see those buttons.  Blind and visually impaired people like me, and many seniors with failing eyesight won’t be aware that you’re there to lend a helping hand.  So, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Remember that blind or visually impaired people aren’t always identifiable by a dog guide or white cane.  If you see someone who looks lost or uncomfortable crossing the street, or is having problems reading street signs or addresses, chances are they may have trouble seeing.
  • Approach the person, and touch their arm lightly, and ask in a normal tone of voice if you can help at all. Don’t yell.  We’re blind, not deaf:-)
  • Let the person take YOUR arm so you can guide them. Many people think they need to grab the blind person’s arm, which means that you’re dragging them around.  That’s very disorienting.
  • If the person is using a white cane, don’t grab the cane and pull him/her along.  I’m serious.  It happens.
  • If the person has a dog guide, don’t distract the dog by talking to it or petting it.  A dog guide is a working dog.
  • If the person requires directions, make them very concise.  And don’t point in a direction.  It won’t help most of us.
  • The phone number for the Vancouver branch of the Canadian Nantional Institute for the Blind is (604) 431-2121. Keep it handy.

Hope this helps.  Feel free to ask me or the CNIB for help.

Let’s make the Games memorable for everyone.

Dear Apple – A Slightly Different Perspective on the iPad

After such a long time away from my blog, there are admittedly many things I should be writing about…but this is important to me and so many people out there who are visually impaired.

I love to keep in touch online, no matter where I am.  I find my very large-screen laptop a trial to lug around on the road, and tried a netbook. But the screen was so small that I was picking the darn thing up like a book.  Complete FAIL if you don’t want to draw undue attention to yourself at the local coffee joint.

Then I discovered the iPod Touch.  Love it for its portability and its ability to give me the independence to read email, post to Facebook and tweet to my heart’s content – fairly unobtrusively.

But it’s still a bitch to read over a long period, and the keyboard is minuscule.

I think for people like me who are legally blind, the new lightweight iPad and its larger screen may be a lifesaver.

Bottom line, I’m very interested.  But like anything else, it’s price-prohibitive and even totally out-of-reach for many of us.

So, for all you folks at Apple, I have a few suggestions for your consideration:

Make the life of visually impaired people a bit easier.

  • Start working with organizations like the Lighthouse for the Blind and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to donate at least one iPad to every branch across North America  for their low-vision clients (I’d like to say world-wide, but I have to be practical)
  • Donate an iPad to all the major schools for the blind in North America
  • Involve visually impaired people like me in the development of the next generation of the iPad so we can give you solid feedback on what works and what doesn’t (and if you haven’t done that for any of your previous products – why haven’t you?)
  • Give a discount to visually impaired consumers who’d be interested in purchasing an iPad (Proof of disability can easily be provided in the form of an ID card or doctor’s letter)

You’d be helping countless of thousands of people communicate more effectively and efficiently.  And isn’t that what Apple is mandated to do?

If anyone at Apple takes the time to read this, thank you!