Teaching Others to Cope with Vision Loss: The Story of Debbi McKenzie

2016-07-18 | By Orcam Staff

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Coping with Vision Loss: The Story of Debbi McKenzie - OrCam

Imagine losing your sight while sitting behind the wheel of your car!


Well, this was the reality of Debbi McKenzie from Ayrshire, Scotland.


While driving her car one day, Debbi suddenly lost her sight. The sight loss was due to a virus called CMV retinitis. At the time that this occurred, Debbi was not tech savvy. She thought that without her vision, she would have to spend the rest of her time sitting around the house or going swimming.


The first time Debbi tried using technology was when her brother bought her a laptop. She looked at the laptop and thought to herself “How do I use it? How do I learn to touch type? How do I learn to do anything? How do I learn to go on the Internet? I have so many questions!”


Slowly, Debbi started using her laptop to do research and found a speech program on the computer that helped her read. She became so efficient at reading using this program that she landed a job teaching other people with sight problems how to function with their vision loss. “I totally love my job and find it very fulfilling,” she says.


One day at work, while Debbi was waiting for her clients, she went on the Internet and researched new assistive technology devices for the visually impaired. That is the first time she came across OrCam-although, at this point, the OrCam was not available in the UK. After a few years, she heard that the OrCam had opened an office in London. She immediately contacted OrCam saying she lived in Scotland and was interested in a device. She explained she would even help sell the OrCam MyEye. She received a reply email saying that OrCam was interested in finding people to become OrCam trainers. Because of her job, she could not commit to becoming an OrCam trainer but she forwarded the email on to her friend, Ian White, who consequently now is her OrCam trainer in Scotland.


Debbi was one of the first people to be trained in Scotland by Ian and she finds the device very easy to use. “I used the OrCam MyEye for the first time to read a magazine while I enjoyed a cup of coffee sitting in a restaurant, just like the people around me. They were quite unaware I was wearing the device.”


Debbi finds the OrCam MyEye very comfortable to wear and clear to listen to. She uses the OrCam MyEye to read magazines, mail, menus, instructions to medication, and to read textbooks to her clients at work. The main thing she uses her OrCam MyEye for is to go shopping “I can walk around the store picking things up and reading them which makes me feel so independent,” she says.


Above all, Debbi loves using the OrCam MyEye to read stories to her grandchildren. “Before I had the OrCam MyEye, I had to make up stories for my grandchildren. Now, I am able to sit with a book and read it to my grandchildren. It is the most fulfilling thing I think the OrCam MyEye has done for me.”


Contributed by: Hannah Ziring, OrCam Community Manager