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 http://www.iBugToday.org. 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


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