Apr 7, 2020

The Way I See It Blog Series: IT’s no mystery to me

An iPad on a desk


My name is Marlene Cust. I am a senior citizen, and legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. In my writing, I want to acknowledge both the challenges I face and the positive coping strategies I have developed over time. Blindness is experienced by individuals in unique and various ways. There is no one size fits all! Always there is that hope for a cure sometime in the future. In the meantime, for me, hopefulness lies in acting with courage, competence, confidence and decisiveness every day. My blog entries present living with blindness the way I see it.

It’s No Mystery to Me

In the seniors’ residence where I live, a mystery writer has aroused some interest and intrigue. The mini-mysteries by an anonymous author have been appearing in the monthly newsletter. Mixed in with discussions of characters, settings, and plots is considerable debate about the identity of the writer. There are several suspects, but I, the actual guilty party, have slipped under the radar.

Early on, as I began losing my vision, I decided to focus on learning skills that would help me maintain my independence. I made a brief foray into Braille. I acquired numerous devices to assist me in the tasks of daily living: lighting units, magnifiers, barcode and print scanners, money identifiers, readers and recorders, talking watches and calculators, etc. But after a time I became frustrated. Lots of stuff! Unmanageable! Bulky! Expensive! Cumbersome! Furthermore, single- and dual-purpose devices involve a steep learning curve and a heavy time commitment.

And my limited Braille skills did not allow me to do the reading and writing I wanted to do.

Finally I decided my interests would be better served by computer technology with which I had some previous familiarity and experience. I gave away my devices and began directing my time and energy towards becoming an effective user of the accessibility features developed by Apple for iOS devices. I discovered a wealth of accessibility features and applications.

I am now an adept user of the iPad. With this technology, I communicate with friends and family members, and conduct many business transactions via text and email messaging, do research on topics of interest, and participate in webinars, online courses and discussions. I do my banking and some online shopping using my iPad. I also enjoy access to my games and my music library. Technology also allows me to continue indulging my lifelong passions for reading and writing. On my iPad, I can access CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access), as well as and other online sources of audiobooks, magazines and newspapers, and I now enjoy listening to books as much as I once enjoyed reading them visually.

I have joined our residence book club. The one stipulation regarding the books we choose to read is that they must be available in audio format. This allows me to enjoy the books and to participate in our follow-up discussions. Using my iPad, I have produced a book of memoirs, maintained a blog, and – yes – written my mini-mysteries.

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