Friday, 27 January 2012


"How can you see if you're blind?" Certain uncharitable people have asked me this over the years as if they caught me in a lie. The fact is that I have partial sight, even though the Government of Canada considers me to be legally blind. I can only distinguish general objects, not details such as people's eye colour.

One striking example of fully-sighted folks misunderstanding my limitations happened in January of 1988. Being newly licensed as an amateur radio operator, I devoted much of my free time to the hobby. Every tuesday evening, the Northern Alberta Radio Club held an on-air meeting called a net. At the end of each one, people listed radio equipment that they had for sale or which they wanted to buy. When the controller of the net mentioned that a certain person had a black-and-white video camera for sale, I was the first one to express interest in buying it. The man selling the camera objected on the grounds that I was legally blind, but the net controller declared my offer to be an official bid.

I could feel the waves of hostility as I walked into the next meeting of the club with my money. The man with the camera sold me the device but I could tell he felt nothing but contempt for my audaciousness. After all, what possible use would a video camera be to somebody like me.

As it turned out, I did use that camera quite a bit. I made video letters for my sister, Diane, and a few home videos of me with my rabbit, Floppy. I even made videos for some electronic music tunes that I composed. I still have the camera to this day and it still works.

I've written about other occasions where my poor vision has caused consternation among my sighted associates. Many of these vignettes are included in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoirs. Feel free to contact me directly or friend me on Facebook to learn more about these paperbacks.


  1. My younger brother teases me about seeing even though I'm considered legally blind. When I tell him I see something, he says, "Aha, so you can see." It's all in good fun so I don't mined.

    A couple of years ago when I was visiting his family in Florida, his oldest son was having trouble with his schoolwork. He was twelve at the time, and nobody could figure out what was going on. My sister-in-law said that in the past, he'd had trouble concentrating and had received professional help. I wondered if he was having trouble with his eyesight and didn't want to say anything for fear his father would tease him like he was teasing his aunt. I confided my suspicion to my brother and suggested he watch his son when he studied to see if he squinted or held printed material close to his face. He said he would do that. Apparently, the boy's eyesight wasn't the problem, though.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story, Bruce. Really shows how we can misunderstand a person's condition if we pre-judge.


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