Thanksgiving and the advent of the holidays has us in a reflective mood. We’re thinking about all the things we are thankful for and the inspirational people we have had the privilege to meet this year. Here is what we would like to share with you.
First and foremost, we are thankful for our patients. Not to be cliché, but they are truly the reason we get up in the morning. When we can enhance someone’s eyesight with innovative technology and we hear they have seen their grandchild’s face, we know that it doesn’t get any better than that.
Next is the technology that we offer our patients. The innovators, engineers and scientist that develop devices like Aira and IrisVision are changing the world. They have opened up the lived environment and vastly improved the daily lives of those who are blind, legally blind and living with low vision. These revolutionary new technologies are game changers and we are thankful they exist, so we can offer them to our patients.
There are others who are working tirelessly to increase the accessibility of existing technology for those who are living with vision impairment. We met one of the people working behind the scenes when we met Tony Jasionowski, Senior Group Manager, Aging & Accessibility, Panasonic Corporation of North America. This self-described “accessibility evangelist” is the driving force behind Panasonic’s policy of following Universal Design, Inclusive Design and Design for All. If you or someone you know is living with any type of vision impairment and has used a Panasconic HDTV, remote or phone designed for low vision, you can thank Tony.
Then there are the visionaries we met and interviewed for our visionary blog. These people are living life with no barriers, choosing to lead a dynamic life rather than one defined by disability and its preconceived limits.
We met Bradford and Bryan Manning, the brothers who are blind as a result of Stargardt’s Disease , and who founded Two Blind Brothers , a clothing company that donates all its proceeds to eye disease research. In one year, the company went from selling its first shirt to the brothers’ high school physics teacher to becoming the fastest growing non-profit start-up in the country. To date the company has donated $70,000 to eye disease research. “We want people to know that happiness can be found in hardship,” said Bryan. “When you are willing to view challenges as an opportunity and put effort into overcoming them, it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.” Two Blind Brothers is living proof of that philosophy.
Then we met Erik Weihenmeyer, whose accomplishments as a blind man (the result of juvenile retinoschisis) nearly defy description. He was the first blind man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, kayaked the thunderous whitewater of the Colorado River, and completed the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on each continent. He is a world renowned motivational speaker, author and co-founder of the non-profit No Barriers organization that spreads the message of living a life without limitations. Erik’s words are a roadmap for those living with low vision and blindness. “People have a light inside themselves that is trying to grow. When that light starts to dwindle, people with disabilities can fall into places they don’t want to be. Adversity has its advantages. Don’t just be happy that you aren’t starving or falling downstairs. Pursue that messy map of life that will take you to a higher, better, happier version of yourself – the best you that you can be.”
Last but not least, we are thankful for our doctors and staff. Their drive, passion and commitment to serve our patients inspire us every day.
We have more visionaries to talk to in the months to come. They are redefining what it means to live with low vision and blindness; breaking barriers, bursting through the envelope and changing the world. Stay tuned and share their brilliance. We know you will be left inspired.
Thank you for being our patients, our readers and our friends. Together we are making the world better for those who live with low vision and blindness.