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The Basics

Opportunities Are Optional

Let me share an anecdote that speaks to opportunities that are indeed optional. Whether to Pursue them represents a choice that only you can make.

I was listening to a podcast called iBUG Buzz. It’s produced by the folks at iBUG is a Blind Users Group for people who use or want to use iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs and everything related. The website and the iBUG program has been around for more than ten years, but I just found out about it this week. I’m going to spend more time exploring its resources and options, and definitely recommend that you spend some time with it too.

Back to the anecdote. An individual (I’m calling her Sue, but I have no idea what her name actually is.) commented that she has been unable to see all of her life. As a child and on to being a young adult, Sue’s parents and others in her family were very supportive and also quite protective. With the best of intentions, they developed a pattern of doing most everything for her that children and adults who can see do without much thought. They obviously wanted to do everything they could do to make Sue’s life frustration and friction free. Their love was strong and heart-felt.

To her surprise and that of her family, Sue discovered that there are lots of people who can’t see who have learned to do most things they want to do without needing someone to help or to do them for them. Many people who can’t see have developed a skill set that neither she nor her family knew was possible.

Sure, Sue had developed her own skill set, but limited by others doing for her instead of her learning to do for herself. Her new awareness was that she could learn to use iPhones, computers and a range of other tech-toys that could open a world of experiences and opportunities that had been hidden from her. “Thanks, but I’ll do it for myself,” was a new and freeing experience. In addition to the tech-toys, she discovered a growing range of resources for people who can’t see that range from how to do most anything, to how others have adjusted to not being able to see, to techniques and strategies for managing more or less independently when she had things to do, places to go and people to see.

Why am I bringing this up at this point in our journey? Think cell phones in general, and smart phones in particular. Yes, you can make phone calls on smart phones, but if that’s the only reason for having one, an old-fashion land-line phone is easier and probably cheaper. But making phone calls is not the reason why you likely should have a smart phone, if you can’t see. It’s all the other things you can do with a smart phone that makes having one so useful.

Try this. Think of ten things you want to do that not being able to see prevents or makes especially difficult. I suspect that a smart phone can help with at least seven of those things. The key here is that you don’t need to master the smart phone or become what they call a power user. You only need to have enough skill to get the smart phone to help with those things you want to do.

Since I’m not a smart phone power user, I’m not going to try to teach you how to use a smart phone, but I am going to suggest resources you may want to consider for this and other things you want to learn. I already included the Internet address and phone number for Hadley. Here, I’ll give you a couple of additional numbers for good learning resources.

• American Foundation for the Blind (AFB): 212-502-7600

• National Federation of the Blind (NFB): 410-659-9314

Either of these organizations will be willing to point you toward the resources and services you need to learn to do what you want to do, including using a smart phone. For now though, be well, do well and keep in mind what I hope is your personal mantra:

• If it is to be, it’s up to me.