By Holly Bonner, Guest Blogger Originally posted on Holly’s blog, Blind Motherhood New York City’s 3rd Annual Disability Pride Parade will take place on Sunday, July 9th, 2017! Festivities kick off at 10AM with a gathering in Union Square Park. The parade begins at 11AM, heading up Broadway to Madison Square Park where a festival will be held from Noon to 3PM! Sponsored by OrCam, Dr. Bryan Wolynski and OrCam user, Pedro Liz, will be on site conducting demonstrations for this wearable, assistive technology. The Importance of Disability Pride: Disability Pride means more than just being “proud and disabled.” The movement promotes a broader sense of inclusion, advocating for acceptance of all people regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual preference, religion or disability. It honors each unique individual, seeing our varying disabilities as part of the beautiful patchwork of human diversity. Events such as the NYC Disability Pride Parade seek to remove the disabled community from the shadows of society, eradicating systemic ableism and the stigmatizing definitions associated with disability. Acquired Blindness & OrCam: As someone who acquired her blindness only 5 years ago after a long battle with cancer, it’s taken me years to find my footing within the disabled community. I needed time to adjust; rediscovering who I was as a visually impaired woman. Technology has played an integral part in helping me make this transition. Were it not for technology like OrCam, I don’t think I would be coping as well as I have since losing my eyesight. OrCam allowed me to converge my previously sighted life with my acquired vision loss. The company’s artificial vision has provided me with a piece of equipment that allows me to actively participate with my family, flourish in my professional life and enjoy many of the same recreational activities I did when I had 20/20 vision. Family Life: I was already a wife when I lost my eyesight in 2012. However, no one could have predicted six months after going blind I would become a pregnant with my first child. Adjusting to vision loss while preparing for impending motherhood was beyond stressful. I worked diligently with a low-vision specialists and orientation and mobility instructors to regain my independence. By the time my second child was born in 2014 (I now have two daughters), I began looking for technology that was small, portable, user-friendly and functional. OrCam fit all those criteria and more! After having an in home demonstration with Dr. Bryan Wolynski, I knew this technology would make caring for my family so much easier. Over the past six months, I have been using OrCam every single day. The device helps me find my children’s yogurt in the refrigerator with it’s product identification feature. It also allows me to read street signs and crossing markings, so I never have to worry about getting lost while I am out alone with my two toddler daughters. Simultaneously, OrCam has provided me with the ability to enjoy those precious childhood moments. When I first became a blind mother, I was concerned about my ability to be able to read to my children. I was still learning basic Braille and holding two babies with a handheld magnifier seemed far too cumbersome to really enjoy. Thanks to OrCam, I can keep my hands free for snuggling my daughters, as the device reads us several books per day. I have pride in my ability to parent my children and care for my family as a disabled woman. By no means is it easy to navigate motherhood without sight, but I do it every single day, and I do it well, with help from OrCam. Professional Life: Employment rates for the blind and visually impaired are extremely low. As a professional social worker and grant writer, I am so thankful to have found OrCam’s technology. Lengthy grant applications and screen time are no longer a concern. I can easily have documents read to me, scroll through emails and even proofread my work; all with a flick of my finger. OrCam helps me stay on top of my professional game and financially provide for my family’s future. There is a great sense of pride that comes with doing work that you love. As a highly educated mental health professional, I feel very fortunate I am able to earn a living while remaining an active member of the disabled community. OrCam has helped alleviate some of the pressure when it comes to my job, saving me time and decreasing both eye strain and dryness. Recreational Life: Family and work responsibilities often leave little time for anything else. However, it is important to carve out a few precious moments everyday for doing the things that make you, you. Before losing my vision, I was an avid poetry reader. I would sit for hours pouring over the works of Poe, Dickinson, and Longfellow. Poetry is more than a collection of rhythmic sounds; it is an expression of intense emotion. After becoming blind, I thought I needed to put aside my love for this form of literature. Audio books did not provide me with the same intimate sensation I had previously experienced between myself and the words. I much more preferred the physical sensation of having a book in my hand, flipping the pages when I was ready. A few months after using OrCam, I picked up The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson. It was the first time I had touched a collection of poetry in 5 years. I was able to independently read each verse, with a simple pointing gesture. OrCam’s artificial vision reminded me I am still the same woman I was before sight loss, capable of enjoying my favorite pastimes – like reading Emily Dickinson! I feel a great deal of pride in coming to that realization. The loss of my eyesight did not prompt me to lose my love of poetic prose. It merely took some time to find the most suitable technological modality that provided the right combination of accessibly and enjoyment. OrCam and I were the perfect fit! OrCam & Disability Pride: It is quite befitting that a company like OrCam would become a sponsor for this years NYC Disability Pride Parade. Their technology has provided so many blind and visually impaired users with a deeper sense of empowerment, beautifully encapsulating the purpose of this inspiring celebration. Personally, my family and I are extremely grateful for the work OrCam has accomplished and continues to do within the blind community. The company has made an immense impact on my life, assisting me with both daily tasks and providing me with a gentle reminder that my disability does not “define” who I am as an individual. Together, OrCam is helping all of us transcend barriers, uniting people of varying abilities and disabilities. And that, my friends, is the crux of disability pride. See you all at the parade! Editor’s Note: This is not a sponsored post for OrCam. No compensation was provided to Blind Motherhood to review this product. Blind Motherhood is providing feedback to the company on this blog to further enhance the usefulness of OrCam’s artificial vision within the blind community.
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