Wednesday, March 29, 2017


A visit to my eye doctor the other day did not bring good news.

a close up of an eye.
An Eye
I had hoped that some of the greyness I had noticed in my good eye over recent months had been due mainly to weather conditions. Lots of cloudy days with diffused light.

When I say good eye by the way, I do not mean that the eye is very good it is just better than my left eye which now barely has any light perception.  My right eye I had some useful vision to my right periphery, now that is shrinking.

I was noticing that diffused light was making my vision very foggy and I was losing most of what color vision I had.

My retinologist took a look at the eye and pronounced that there is a quite decent cataract in the right eye.

The diffusing of what vision I have is the edge of the cataract moving across my field of vision. In her opinion though there is little point in removing the cataract.

The reason for this is removing the cataract and replacing it with a new artificial lens will not help me because the field of useful vision in the eye is too small for the eye to recover any sight.

Removing the damaged lens and the cataract will make me blind, leaving the cataract will at least allow me light perception with some diffused vision rather than light perception only.

I have to admit that is a scary time. Knowing that there is little left to do in order to save my sight is a pretty tough pill to swallow. I am going to look at a second opinion from my other eye doctor over the next few weeks. Just incase there is a work around.

What do you think?

Read William Elliott's answer to Can you see the doctor as he/she is operating on your eyes during Cataract surgery? on Quora

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 WAVE Award

Last Friday, March 10, was a pretty exciting day. I attended the final day of the Western Media Access Conference. Learned lots of stuff especially about social media.

William Elliott, smiling holds the certificate recognizing 'Blindside Fresno' as a finalist and runner up in the WAVE awards 2017.
William Elliott after receiving Runner-up Award Certificate
Later that evening was the Western Access Video Excellence (WAVE) Award ceremony. The event was televised by CMAC the local media access group that I have been a member of for over one year now.

'Blindside Fresno' was a finalist in the very first category of programs, a non professional producer of disability awareness programming.  Non-professional meaning that I as the producer do not earn my living as a television producer.

There were three finalists, myself, a production from La Velle University in Los Angeles and a program produced by a local High School here in Fresno also nominated by CMAC.

Things  went by so quickly, I hardly heard my name mentioned as the nominees were named, than the winner was up on stage giving his thanks. The program from La Velle had won.

Their program covered the life of a quadraplegic, who has raised thousands of dollars for others like himself injured in car accidents.

In all there were forty-one categories and all had to be announced in a little under ninety minutes. There were not really any long speeches. Thank you's were the main order of the evening and it was a very enjoyable experience.

At the end of the evening those of us who had been selected as finalists were awarded our runner-up certificates.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Visiting a Trade Show and Conference

I have spent the past two days visiting the ACM West Region Conference and Trade Show here in my home town of Fresno, California.
The studio of Blindside Fresno, the host and guest silohuetted against a light blue background, in the foreground the silohuette of a camera and the floor director in headphones talks to the control room crew.
In the Studio For Blindside Fresno

The show is for access media providers, and it has been great fun to get out and about in new company for a few days.

Today will see the last day of the conference and also the presentation of the WAVE Awards. Blindside Fresno is up for one of the awards tonigh so wish me luck there.

In the past I have only visited on conference, as a delegate for my local chapter of California Council of the Blind.

This conference is very different, apart from the constant bumping into other conference goers, and the walk by sniffings of guide dogs especially around the buffet tables.

This conference is so much more relaxed and therefore fun. I am guessing this is for my part because at the CCB conference I was a newbie delegate. I didn't know what the hell I was doing there, I had a shopping list of must do items to report on which meant I was on duty from 6am  until bedtime at 2am. Here I will only have spent about twenty-six hours on duty at the conference over the three days. Much easier. Plus the conference is here in the city where I live so at night I am coming home to my own bed. Much nicer than even the best hotel.

Leif my guide dog is really enjoying the work. He has a spring in his step that has been lacking in recent months. I know he gets bored with regular routes and though he does perk up when people stop us to ask questions, these interactions are not as stimulating for him as working a room of moving people and the hope of getting that piece of roast beef off the floor under the buffet table.

Some of the most exciting talk at the conference has been about sharing of programming. From my point of view as a producer this is great news. I create programs to be seen by a wide audience. Though my program is titled for a specific locality, I think 'Blindside Fresno' has lots of universal interest for people who want to know about blindness, technology, and also the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

So today the conference closes. The awards will be awarded and what will I take away from it all? A great experience. Everyone should take in a conference or two in their lives. It is just fun to meet people who share ideas. Not just ideas that you have opinions on. But ideas that expand your horizons. Ideas that make you question possibilities. Ideas that encourage new ways of thinking.

Wish me luck for the WAVE awards tonight.

Thank you.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Help! Someone Moved the Bus Station

Being blind does mean we do like to operate within a comfort zone. I love to get out and about,  go for a coffee at Starbucks. Ride the bus and the train. Be independent. Then some city planner decides to throw a spanner into my comfort zone. Close a street to rebuild it for car access, rebuild a bus route to accommodate a new route for a high speed train which may never appear. Move my bus station from the main streets of Fresno to the back streets.

A bus shelter on a quiet street, there is blue sky with bright sun and green grass
A Fresno Bus Shelter
Earlier this week I made a trip downtown to purchase my monthly bus ticket. Arriving down town another passenger made a comment about fencing around one area of the bus stops. At the end of last year they moved my usual drop-off point across the park now it appears the pick-up area is enclosed by yet more feencing.

The whole of downtown Fresno is an obstacle course of barriers, wire fences and diversions as a new downtown construction plan is put into place to accommodate a new high speed rail link which may never happen in California.

'Have they closed the Northbound stop? " I asked the driver.

"Yes." she said. "The new stop is over on Merced and L Street."

Great I thought. Having no idea where Merced and L streets even were. But luckily the transit people had placed some helpful people on the street to guide the lost passengers.

Well finding one of these people was fun, wandering like a lost soul up and down asking any passing shadow.

Eventually I found the correct person. ""Turn right, one block on the  left." She said.

OK so Leif my guide dog and I set off. Right was easy. Down one block and the street was silent. I turned left and crossed the street. Thinking funny now I might be going the wrong way. The street was deathly quiet. Just the  distant rumble of traffic but nothing on the street where I walked.

Eventually I came out onto another main street. I must have missed the new stop. I made my way back following my previous walk. Back to the street which I had crossed. I crossed back and walked up the street again silence, no cars or buses passed me. I eventaully  moved onto another busy cross street.

"Bugger it!" I muttered to Leif. I know where there is another bus stop from here so we walked three blocks over and found a bus stop near to the public library. In minutes my bus came and we were on our way home.

What to do to find the new bus stop?

Well the solution for me was easy. If all else fails get to ride the full bus route.

I did just that this morning. The two hour ride took me to all parts of the town. But finally as the bus looped back towards home. We turned up the quiet street where I had first walked down, to the street where I had crossed we turned left, the bus travelled half a block and the driver pulled over in front of the only building on that side of the block. Beside a lonely quiet parking lot.

There we were at the lost bus shelter. Not exactly where I had been told.

Life is tough being blind and you are forced to work outside  your comfort zone. But life would be easier if sighted people please gave clearer directions.