Post Title: You Can Pursue Your Passions Today Even with Sight Loss.
Discovering the Power of the Internet.
The first time I learned the power of the Internet I was teaching at Lackland Air Force Base and doing a term paper in my Master’s Degree in Bicultural – Bilingual Studies. I tapped into a server and found all kinds of information.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot! It blew my mind that I found so many international articles.
Over the years, the Internet has become more and more accessible. It’s possible to find information on any sport, hobby, interest online. If you can’t find it, you can share your own experience and others can learn how you pursue your passion.
Even my dad who never used a computer used a keyboard and a regular television screen through a program called WebTV to order parts for his antique vehicles!
Whether sighted – or blind, information is becoming more accessible. With the American Disability Act, more and more websites are implementing accessible measures so that screen readers can read their content. While there will always be more necessary measures, we have certainly come a long way in this information age!
Pursuing Hobbies and Pastimes.
For those with sight loss, pursuing a hobby can seem daunting with little or no sight. Then what? How can you even begin to pursue it? I’ve heard this over and over again. What’s the use? I can’t see the ball …
Research it anyway. Others with sight loss will share how they are chasing and accomplishing the same or a similar hobby. Information can be found on the Internet itself and even more importantly, the ways to overcome the challenges that keep us from following our passions – such as transportation, for example.
One such website is the APH (American Printing House for the Blind, my favorite). There is a Connect Center: Thriving with Vision Loss. One of the links there is VisionAware, a massive resource in itself. I love the Every Day Living Recreation and Leisure link. Readers can find all kinds of information available on favorite hobbies, even hiking, tandem cycling, chess, sewing, knitting, cooking, beep ball, etc.
Facebook seems to have its share of screen reader users that either love or hate it. We can now become friends with people all over the world and share our passions. Sight Support groups such as the Retinitis Pigmentosa Family Support Group, which is the largest and most diverse group I have seen with support for RP, contains a wealth of information on members pursuing their hobbies—which brings me to one of my biggest passions: running.
Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility contains a story called “Running a Fine Line,” I share several different anecdotes of how I had to adapt myself to pursue my running goals at various intervals in my sight loss. I made the point that by adapting I could still pursue my love for running. Check out the kindle version of my memoir here or the audio here.
I learned from Michael Tubiak, a vision-impaired podcast interviewer, it is possible to run with a white cane! I used to try it, but it seemed impossible for me to do that without tripping. I kept “outrunning” my cane. But Michael said, “It takes practice but it can be done.” By sharing, we can widen the boundaries, problem solve and test our ideas.
A few weeks ago, I shared a post about joining a virtual running group of over sixty people, all blind or vision-impaired. I found out about this through a group I belong – women who consciously strive to live active, productive lives. That was a strong of each member running in our own areas but sharing the experience.
The Shakeout Podcast.
This past Sunday, while browsing through the RP Family Support group, I came across a marvelous podcast called The Shakeout Podcast put out by Canadian Running Magazine. The hostess, Kate Van Buskirk, Interviewed Craig Slagel, the creator of a running app called RunGo, and Rose Sarkany Morrison, a vision-impaired runner who tested out the app and collaborated with him to make it work better for her as she also faces hearing loss and she was missing some of the instructions. So with her feedback, they improved the app.
Ultimately, it enabled Rose to run solo. It gave her back her independence in running.
When I heard that, my heart beat faster. I am always thrilled when people with sight loss regain independence. Rose spoke so eloquently, I cried, “Yes, go Rose!” As she said, it seems to be a small thing but it makes a world of difference to her – and to us as vision-impaired and blind runners. We root for each other.
The interview was extremely well done with Buskirk questioning Slagel on several facets of the app and how it worked. She then intermittently interviewed Sarkany, who shared her experiences in running with it.
You can watch the podcast here:
Photo: Kate Van Buskirk AUGUST 8, 2020
In this episode, we learn how a navigation app is augmenting the running experience, especially for those with visual impairments. We speak with Craig Slagel, the developer of RunGo, a turn-by-turn navigation system built specifically for runners. Craig and his team are redefining the virtual running landscape, at a time when virtual is a reality for many runners.
We also hear from Rose Sarkany Morrison, an athlete with visual and hearing impairments, about how this technology is revolutionizing the way she runs. Thanks to RunGo, Rose is empowered for the first time to run solo.
Photo: Rose Sarkany
Subscribe to The Shakeout Podcast
RELATED: I’m excited to share this short video clip on following your passions made by my niece, Rachel Shapiro.
What is your hobby and how are you pursuing it? Or what holds you back? What will you do to get past the challenges?
You have just read “You Can Pursue Your Passions Today Even with Sight Loss” by Amy L. Bovaird. © August 18, 2020. All Rights Reserved.