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Independence and Peer Mentoring

I think often about the road I’ve used to get to where I am, and mostly I think about it from a place of gratitude. I know and understand that along the way I’ve tripped over many hurtles and that I’ve come across people who were less than helpful or supportive, and yet I’m amazed at how easy it is for me to remain focussed on those events, people and organizations who have helped by setting down the smooth paving stones that make up my path in life.

I’m quick to acknowledge that some professionals like Phil Crowson, Kay Finley, Pat Robertson, Larry Bieberly and Julie Beland provided the early guidance and skill development I needed, and for them I remain ever grateful. And just like those early teachers who taught me the basic alphabet, I only really learned to read by practicing and by discussing the impressions gained from reading with others in my community. So too have I really learned how to live life without sight by being active in the community of blind and partially sighted people.

Through the many organizational and impromptu groups I’ve had occasion to interact with I’ve learned from those who have walked down this blind world in front of me, and I have come to really appreciate the opportunities these same blindness support groups have provided me to also teach the knowledge, skills and abilities I’ve gained over the last 38 years. So, if you don’t currently participate in blindness group activities, whether it be for advocacy, peer support, recreational or social endeavours I’d like to offer my encouragement to you to please do so. It could be the very best gift you will ever give yourself at the lowest possible cost.

To illustrate how easy it is to pick up little nuggets of knowledge let me tell you a brief story. I recently attended a group who gathered to discuss the merits of iDevices, and during the ensuing conversation I off-handily expressed the frustration I was having with my iPhone when forwarding emails to others. Namely, it was the onerous task of removing all the header information that exists at the top of a forwarded email message, which I was doing by placing the curser at the top of the text to be kept, then back spacing over all that existed above that point with single taps of the delete button until done. Sometimes there were a long list of email addresses to be deleted, so many that I often opted to not share messages as a result. Don’t say it; I’m aware that many may have appreciated that I didn’t share in those instances. Grin. At any rate, the suggestion I received from another participant was to place the curser at the top of the text to be kept as before, then to double-tap and hold the Delete Button until all the offending text was removed. When doing so I’ve noticed that it starts out deleting character by character, then it soon switches to word mode removing text far more quickly.

All of this to say that I’m a firm believer in the power of the people, and that there’s far more power in the gathering of like-minded people. Your peers are your best sources of support, encouragement, motivation and inspiration, so gather them together soon to firstly gain a tremendous benefit, and secondly to offer your wisdom to others. .

Thx, Albert Ruel
From an Island in the Pacific

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