Blind Man's Shoes: Reading is One Challenge of Sight Loss

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 4th Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/29jwg5wp/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

I have always possessed the ability to speed-read and it was in relation to a comment by another writer that I had a sudden realisation of a skill that I had lost since my eyesight troubles. Adjusting to a new reality brings with it new challenges and new adjustments that you have to make.

I Read the Sunday Times in 1 Hour

I used to read the Sunday Times (yes that grand newspaper published in London) in one hour and have even read the Sunday edition of the New York Times in just about an hour and a half. Truth is I have always had the ability to speed-read and speed-reading a newspaper is actually very simple because 90 percent of all articles contain very little original content, most are continuations of an earlier article, but even those that are original are not time consuming to read.

Truth is with newspapers you simply need to read the headline and first paragraph to know whether it is of more than a passing interest, Of those that are of interest normally the final paragraph sums up the important points. There are in truth very few newspaper articles that need to be read completely and even with those it is possible to rapidly read them.

There are perhaps 10 articles that actually need reading in full in the average full size newspaper and I say this in full confidence, despite knowing that you and I have different professional interests.

Losing My Sight

Losing my sight earlier this year I have had to firstly learn how to walk in a blind man's shoes then make major adjustments to all the things that I do, even though I have regained much of the sight in my right eye life is still painful and worst of all slow. I have previously discussed the challenge of facing your worst fears in life, but at that time I did not think about the impact of not being able to read because I had been merely surviving, but truth is now I need to thrive.

I equipped each of my computers with reading software, which allows me to hear articles that interest me, although they have to be written in an electronic form in order for me to read it. Let me tell you how a reader works, it reads the article provided to it word-by-word and in truth the only time I used to read that way was when I either wanted to read something in detail or if I was reading a fictional story. Currently I have no way of reading a printed book, other than finding the audio book in the library.

It was because of a comment made by another writer yesterday that I realised what I was missing. Being read to is interesting, but it is so sequential in nature and so slow, even if I speed up the read-rate of the program it does not compete with my former ability to read by taking in the whole paragraph in a snapshot, yet in truth I do not know how to master speed reading with one eye.

Reading software is of great assistance when writing, indeed I expect to continue using this as an aid to writing should I fully regain my sight.

What to Do?

Does that mean having to content myself with reading at a leisurely pace until my eyesight corrects itself? Perhaps, perhaps not. Indeed I do not know that I am equipped to answer that question at this time. My son used to joke that I had Wi-Fi in my brain because of the level of general knowledge that I possess, well right now I wish I did have a brain to internet interface to allow me greater access to the information I need (but of course as soon as I write this someone will tell me it already exists) yet this raises the question of whether I would be brave enough to use it.

It is not very often that I am lost in terms of knowing how to respond to a particular situation, indeed I am normally a leader when it comes to grasping complex ideas and be able to explain them to people that need to take advantage of them.

Right now I have to admit that I feel lost, lost because that I do not know the answer and am unable to guide even myself to find the answer to this specific challenge. Reading is something that I have always enjoyed (despite suffering dyslexia all of my life) indeed I have perhaps 50 books within an arms reach of where I sit right now yet know that picking any up to read them would be so painful. When I talked about facing my worst fears, I did not perhaps understand the fullest extent of things that were missing from my life and this is about another such challenge yet not knowing the answer of how to adjust in order to meet it.

To Read without Reading

Before becoming sight challenged, my wife an I had been investigating the future of books and publishing because we were seeking to break into this field - yet we wished to help people discover information in a modern way. Thinking about it there is no reason why books must be limited to a printed form, e-books and audio books are already a reality. Most people will however agree that Hollywood films never do justice to the possibilities that a book offers, indeed most films are based on short stories, not full length novels.

Think about this, even when Peter Jackson created the Lord of the Rings films lasting more than ten hours in total there were segments of JRR Tolkien's original text that were omitted. The BBC ten-part mini-series may be a more appropriate to represent a novel as a visual form of the book because it is through such a medium that a writer can take their audience through the complete journey that is their story. Even audio books exceed 15 hours in length.

Blind people have a much greater challenge and I am sure that we now need to move beyond the limitations of braille and help them in the new world. In the Science Fiction series Star Trek fictional character Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was blind, but he had a visor to help him see via a brain interface - certainly a great concept that if it were a reality would help blind people open up the world around them. Truth is we all need multiple ways to visualise things.

If you have time please take a look at the following video which covers some of the technological capabilities that can be used by the blind. This is a very lengthy video but covers many modern capabilities.

No Immediate Answers

If there were a wand that could be waved which in an instant help those suffering sight challenges I would support waving it to help change occur. I am not only saying this because of my current sight challenges, but I can envisage the difficulties faced by others. Of course nothing is as simple as snapping on a Star Trek visor, but ideas must start somewhere and the history of that show has long been an inspiration to technologists over the years. Perhaps once again the creative juices are flowing for inventors right now.

The following are some of the more recent articles that I have published on a variety of topics, which is now more than 470 articles on Wikinut.

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is great a place for you to share some of your wisdom, insight and knowledge, you could start by adding a comment, but perhaps you need something more in which case should join Wikinut, write then become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

Tags

Blind, Blind Mans Shoes, New Reality, Reading Software, Sequential, Sight Loss, Speed-Read, Speed-Reading, Technology, Wi-Fi In My Brain

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar snerfu
5th Sep 2014 (#)

Technology does not linger in the woods though it does take a nap occasionally for want of proper motivation. Something should come up soon enough.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Sep 2014 (#)

Having been involved in one branch of technology all my life I have to say that at certain times it seems as if there are massive advances, but at other times it seems all too slow.

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author avatar HacBao
5th Sep 2014 (#)

A shared long, but it's very good

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
5th Sep 2014 (#)

For one who loves to read as I do , I cannot imagine what you are going through Peter , but one thing I can do for you is to pray for your sight to improve on a daily basis so that you can enjoy speed reading once again.
Technology and new ideas are advancing rapidly everyday , so there may be an answer just around the corner for your need .
In the meantime , I pray you will continue to have the help of your family assisting you until your sight improves .
Many blessings
Stella ><

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Sep 2014 (#)

I am not religious but I have always believed in the power of prayer and I do appreciate the prayers of my friends here.

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author avatar Mariah
5th Sep 2014 (#)

I fully endorse Stella's comments Peter, we take our senses for granted and rarely stop to consider how fortunate we are in comparison to others who have endured life long sensory impairment.. it's only when we feel comprised that we fully appreciate their priceless value.
Adjustment is the key, all be it extremely demoralising and personally frustrating, and keeping in mind that time is a great healer and that you will regain your former abilities.
The very fact that you are still writing extremely well here on wikinut is a huge personal statement..you are adjusting to your circumstances and refusing to concede to not reading and writing at all.
Keep right on going Peter, you'll get there.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Sep 2014 (#)

It is so true that we take certain things for granted Mariah. One of the things that I am doing is recording many of the experiences of living life in a blind man's shoes, and am compiling these thoughts into what may become a book.

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author avatar Retired
5th Sep 2014 (#)

It's inspirational to witness your determination in meeting a challenge few can comprehend unless they've been there. It's enlightening to read about your journey through this, Peter.

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author avatar Mariah
5th Sep 2014 (#)

Here here Susan... so very well said

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Sep 2014 (#)

Susan and Mariah, When you face challenges like this it seems to me that there are two options - give up or face the obstacles. Finding a way forward is important.

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author avatar Ptrikha
5th Sep 2014 (#)

In spite of your limitations, you are doing greatly.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Sep 2014 (#)

Ptrikha sir, I think you will also appreciate this - I installed a database server on one of my computers last week and have started building the database I need for a long outstanding project.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
5th Sep 2014 (#)

so glad you found ways to expand your senses... I have heard that when animals lose one sense others become much stronger...

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Sep 2014 (#)

I am not sure my other senses took over upon loss of sight - but it is true hearing has become so important - hence my engaging of text to speech software.

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author avatar Retired
5th Sep 2014 (#)

You have lots of people here who are pulling for you. You seem strong and determined enough to overcome any obstacles. As I also love reading, needlecraft, writing, etc., I think sight would be the worse sense to lose.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Sep 2014 (#)

Certainly the needlecraft patterns would be interesting when produced by a partially sighted person.

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author avatar Utah Jay
6th Sep 2014 (#)

I owned a business that modified vehicles for the disabled. I have witnessed many scenes of bravery and courage and I am always amazed at mans' ability to adapt. My hat is off to you.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Sep 2014 (#)

I have heard that next year (2015) GM will have a car that can be legally driven by a blind person.

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author avatar RBB1010
7th Sep 2014 (#)

I am very sorry for the loss of sight that you have experienced. Religious beliefs, political,or other beliefs is a great freedom most of us enjoy so thanks for letting me keep you in my mind and my prayers. I pray and wish the very best for you.

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