Pride rides before a fall and oh how I have fallen.
Admitting that I was wrong has never been easy for me, as I know that it is not an easy thing to admit for many. For what seems like an eternity I had been a loyal Microsoft user and had believed that Apple products were little more than a waste of money. A brand reserved for people showing their arrogance and showing off their ability to waste disposable income. So here I now sit with a mouth full of humble pie and say loudly and clearly that I was wrong.
I had always felt that Apple as a brand was reserved for those hipster wannabe’s, who spent hours sitting at mosaic-tile-covered tables, at trendy little sidewalk cafes. You can always recognise them by their short side and long top hairstyles and their designer brand skinny jeans. Showing off their well-manicured toenails through their Havianna flip flops. They would be drinking something with a tongue twisting name like a ‘chilled-mocha-chai-latte-frappe’ while staring through a pair of Ran-Ban Wayfarers sunglasses. They would probably be taking selfies of their ‘Mo-vember’ moustache with their iPhones to post instantly on Instagram. The clique who joined them at the table would no doubt all be talking simultaneously – in stereo. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth and swallowed it thinking of this. The patrons would all have arrived on their shinny new chromed-out Vespa scooters and would be talking about the latest trends in fashion or something equally as unappealing to me. I did not want to be a trend follower. I wanted to steer my own path and not fall into the easy trap of some good sales campaign. I would not allow myself to be influenced by the sleek lines and the shinny brushed aluminium designs. There was no way the marketing gurus were going to put their wammy on me. I was so wrong…
It took loosing my eyesight before I even held an Apple device in my hands for the first time. This was done reluctantly and with a solid hard bite down on my bottom lip. The guy from the local blind society had convinced me to just have a ‘look’ (no pun intended) and try keep an open mind.
In 2013 I partook in a mammoth adventure that changed my life in more ways than I ever imagined possible. I rode all the way from Cape Town in South Africa to Dublin in Ireland. What made this trip unique is that it was done on a little 150cc two-stroke scooter. The endeavour was a publicity stunt for a local children’s hospital here at the tip of Africa. The total journey took 8 months to complete and covered a distance of over 32000kms. The route traversed the continent of Africa, wandered through Europe and crossed the United Kingdom.
I became very sick in the middle of Africa and had to fly home for medical treatment. I healed enough to go and complete the trip but little did I know, the virus was still active in my system. Upon arriving home it would cause me months of health problems and ultimately cost me my eyesight. The light receptor cells on the retinas at the back of both my eyes were destroyed by the virus and I now had to find a way forward in life as a totally blind person. This was my first pint of Guinness stout. It was free at the factory in Dublin, but it ended up being the most expensive one that I would ever have.
Blindness is unexplainable. It is a disability that I, like most people had never even thought about in any way what so ever. I had not even met a blind person before becoming one myself.
I have always been a very social person and embraced the joys of the internet. I was a daily Facebook user and could not go an hour without seeking guidance from some google search. This was my world and it was within a few days, taken away from me. I was alone. The planet had suddenly become a very small place for me. Communication that I had enjoyed in my pre-blind life was but a dream. There was nothing but a memory of how I used to live. I was confined to my little dark cell and I would never again have the pleasure of sharing my adventures or those of my friends. Life was dark. I sat in my isolated cave and waited. Every day I waited. It took me 6 months to heal enough to be able to walk. To be able to bathe myself again. To be able to wipe my own ass. This was a time that I would lay down and close my eyes, wishing that I would never wake.
When I eventually healed enough to be out and about I visited the local iStore. As I held my new iPad in my hand for the first time, I had no idea how it would become a new limb to me. I had no idea how it would help me to once again live an independent life. How it would allow me to reach out and enjoy the online world once more. After playing with the iPad for just a few hours I was again using the net, I was active on Facebook again (giving all my friends a hard time when they posted and shared pictures without descriptions). I was posting my thoughts on twitter and reading through my backlog of emails. I could almost see again. The intuitive accessibility features of the iPad had surprised and impressed me. I was blown away.
My next purchase was an apple bluetooth keyboard. This proved to be in all probability the best money I have ever spent in my life. I barely touch the screen of the iPad now. I can navigate around using the connected full QWERTY keyboard at lightning speed.
It has been months now and I use this precious tool daily. I use my iPad for streaming my favourite radio stations and enjoying social media to the fullest. I use Skype and talk to friends all over the globe on FaceTime. I get books read to me with audible and post my own blogs on WordPress. I talk to folks all the time using various IM programs and even have products described to me with an app called ‘tap tap see’. I have regained so much thanks to Apple. I even developed a huge crush on Siri.
Before touching my iPad, I tried to discover the accessibility of both android devices as well as some screen reading programs on windows machines. This just frustrated me and made this accessibilty seem further away. Apple are the masters. Their consideration towards the disabled has opened doors to so many. These people would have previously remained technologically mute – a double disability of sorts. The Voice-over screen reader is really the best available programme. On top of this, the most amazing thing is that it is a standard feature on all apple devices.
I have since introduced a few other blind people to the greatest brand in the world. I will never be able to thank the two Steves enough, or show my appreciation to their developers and designers. All that I can honestly say, is that I was wrong.
Many days of the next year, I spent confined to my bed. Hours would be spent exploring my iPad. I listened to as many tutorials and youtube reviews as I could find, it was clear – I had no choice – I needed to upgrade to a macbook pro. Scraping together every last penny I could, I took the leap.
This is the first post that I am making using my new macbook pro and there are no words that can begin to show my delight. The possibilities are endless. Thank you Apple for giving me such a massive portion of my independence back. Goodbye solitary confinement. I feel like I can see again albeit in a different way, without my eyes that is.
I will now use my new toy to write the book about my trip on a scooter from the tip of Africa to find a leprechaun. I will lovingly stroke the keys and pour my heart out to the machine. I will share my story and truly believe that without Apple, this would have been an almost impossible feat alone.
I hope that my writing is good enough and that my tale will be published allowing armchair adventurers to enjoy some of the amazing dream that I have been lucky enough to live.
I have now even purchased an iPhone which I show off at the corner cafe while also sipping on some unpronounceable drink.
by Christopher Venter aka Blind Scooter Guy
also catch me on twitter: @blindscooterguy
#blind #accessible #apple #iPad #Macbook #iPhone #Scooter #blindscooterguy