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September 28, 2020

National Blind Sports Week

Cat Bouwkamp with the United States Association of Blind Athletes stops by to discuss her participation in the 2012 London Paralympics, the USABA and National Blind Sports Week.




Episode Transcript: 



John:
We're going to talk a lot about the United States Association of Blind Athletes, but I want to talk a little bit about you first. You are a Paralympian.

Cat Bouwkamp:
I am, yes. I was a 2012 Paralympian and I actually competed in the sport of wheelchair fencing. I was born with a physical disability from birth where I basically the easiest way to explain it is I am missing most of the muscles below my knee in one of my legs. And so with that, that qualified me for the Paralympic style sports. And I got involved in wheelchair fencing and immediately fell in love with the concept of being able to stab people and get points for it. So I'd have to go to jail or anything. Exactly. No repercussions for being a Three Musketeer.

John:
Wow. That's that is pretty cool. The games were in London. Do you have a good time there?

Cat Bouwkamp:
I did. So I was 16 years old. I was the youngest on my team. When I say my team that's me and these seven other wheelchair fencers that competed. So I was the youngest on my team by eight years and I was the only female on my team. So it was kind of like getting to go see a new country with all of your fun uncles, which is kind of how I always describe it.

John:
How many people were on the Paralympic Team in general?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Oh, wow. I want to say around 200 to 300.

John:
That's a pretty good amount of people.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Absolutely. And that was, that was actually what really fueled my career path was going to the London games and seeing so many people, both Americans and from foreign countries who were these high profile professional athletes, not in spite of their disability, like many of the general public sometimes assume, but they were professional athletes because of their disability. And just being able to see the empowerment and the empathy and just the community that really surrounds the Paralympic movement and Paralympic sports is what helped me to realize that I wanted to work in the Paralympic movement for the rest of eternity. And that's kind of one of the stepping stones that led me to working at the US Association of Blind Athletes.

John:
Let's pick it up there. You're the Membership and SafeSports Coordinator. What does that mean?

Cat Bouwkamp:
I am, so it is a fancy way of saying pretty much anything that has to do with our members. I am the one that gets to deal with it. I work with our members from grassroots. So I work with people who have maybe recently lost their vision or their vision is failing them. And they are looking to get involved in sports wherever they are across the U S but then on the other hand, I also get to work with our Paralympic sport of goalball and work with those athletes to make sure that they're all in compliance with their safety measures. So I really get to run the whole gamut and I think maybe biasly, but I get to have the most fun at USA BA because I get to really have that hands on interaction with the entire span of our membership.

John:
What is the USABA and who's the target member?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Yeah, so that's kind of a hard question because our goal at the us association of blind athletes is to create and facilitate opportunities for people of all skill level, who are visually impaired to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. So whether that is someone who has lost their vision recently and is just looking for opportunities or even the how tos or whether that is someone who ran marathons competitively has slowly started losing their vision, wants to get involved in that capacity, or whether it's someone who's vying for the Paralympic team. That's the beautiful part of USA BA is that we are creating, and we have a community of athletes with visual impairments at all ability levels, so that we can create kind of this. It is such a niche community of people who are interested in being healthier and happier who also happened to have a visual impairment.

John:
I imagine it is. Yeah. So it sounds like you run the gamut from all kinds of visual acuities and all ages then.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Yeah. So it's interesting. One of our programs that I run is called United. We moved and it kind of sprung out of the COVID pandemic. And when all of our in-person programming ceased to exist, we created a virtual program that utilizes Fitbits. And we have people who are registered all across the US who use these Fitbits to track their steps and their active minutes. And they compete in challenges with each other and have a community on social network. And so our youngest participant is 12 years old and our oldest participant is 72 years old. And then when you look at the fact that that program is represented in 33 States, the weight range of our participants also goes from 85 pounds to 370 pounds. So we really pride ourselves on being a niche organization for everyone. It's kind of the fun way. I like to explain it. You know, we are for people who are seeking this type of lifestyle, but it doesn't matter where in their journey for that lifestyle they're at. So we really serve everyone. And specifically within that in membership with USA BA provides the opportunity to get involved in programs like that. And so that's just kind of one of the many benefits that comes with being a USA BA member is the ability to get involved with people, either a who seem to live a similar lifestyle to you and seem to be almost like you in every way on paper. And it's also to create a community around our differences. So to be able to span that age gap or that demographic gap or that weight gap or whatever it may be to create a more diverse community,

John:
You've wet my appetite here. I'm not a member. Maybe I should be. I'm certainly an amateur at, at a, at a few things and terrible at others, but membership is like a, there's a, there's a fee for that on an annual basis. And then you get plugged into the network of other blind athletes that at whatever level you think you fit into,

Cat Bouwkamp:
To an extent. Yeah. So with our membership, it's, you have the option to either pay a annual fee like you mentioned, or for our athletes who, once they have, really gotten their foot in the door and realized how beneficial our organization can be to them, there is a lifetime membership and where you are a member for life. But it equals out to four years of membership. So it's really just a cost benefit analysis on that side of when you weigh the benefits that you can receive from USABA in terms of programs, in terms of information that we communicate every two weeks in our newsletters in terms of the programs both closed and open. So what that means is we've done programs on our Facebook, where our Paralympic athletes will create workout videos, and anyone who follows our Facebook can participate along with them. And they also get the opportunity to participate in close programs, which are programs that are just sent out to our members who are registered. So there's something for everyone with a USABA membership.

John:
Yes. It sounds like there are lots of things available. So there's lots of programs and sports, where do they generally occur? It sounds like maybe somewhere online or virtual, but physically, where do they occur and what are the main sports that are participated in?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Yeah, so we have what's called a sport club network, and that means we have a list of local partners all across the U S who facilitate programs independently, but kind of under our USA BA sport club umbrella. So we have global teams in Seattle, Atlanta, DC, Columbus, everywhere across the U S we have different programs available to all of our members. And then specifically for some of our members who are in that more rural or less connected cities is when we really do encourage the participation within the virtual programs. But we do have programs across the U S in terms of sports that we offer. We are the high performance management organization or H PMO for the sport of goalball. So what that means essentially is the Paralympic sport of global played in the U S is housed under the US Association of Blind Athletes. So when you see team USA, Paralympians competing in the sport of goalball, that is one of our programs that we facilitate and that we are most proud of. We also facilitate eight other sports. So we are also what is called a multi-sport organization. And so we offer cycling, skiing, powerlifting, paratriathlon, global soccer, track, and field and swimming. So we offer programming and all of these sports throughout the year, whether that be a onetime camp or in the case of goalball, since we are the management organization for that sport, we do four regional tournaments and a large national tournament every year with COVID obviously things have changed in that front, but that is kind of what we consider to be our baby. And so we facilitate a lot of programming in the sport of goal ball, but we also like to provide the most opportunities to our members and athletes. So we also provide programming and those seven other sports.

John:
You've mentioned goalball a few times. I don't know what that is. Explain please.

Cat Bouwkamp:

As part of global is it's very hard to explain. It is somewhat similar to three on three soccer, except your team does not move from the goal box. So to imagine it is an indoor courts for it played on a volleyball court, and you have goals on either end and you have three people on each team who are in front of the goal for each team, because in the blind and visually impaired community vision, visual acuity can range so greatly. There is this equalize playing field by everyone wearing eye shades. So completely darked out, no one can see anything. So the playing field is completely level and the gold ball itself is this large. It's almost the size of a bowling ball, but it's made out of thick rubber. And it has essentially bells and ball-bearings inside of it to make noise when it is shaken or thrown. And the point of the sport is to score a goal in your opponent's goal, but obviously your goal in the game is to defend your goal. And so it is a very high speed back and forth of strategically hurling the ball down the court to score against your opponents while they can hear the ball coming and have to react to defend their own goal. So that is a very large overview and somewhat messy explanation of this sort of Goldwell.

John:
Are you using hands and feet or one or the other?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Yes. You can use your hands and your body when you are on defense. You're essentially in a kind of squatting or hands and knees position. And when you hear the ball coming, you have to be able to identify where on the court the ball is. So there's no talking by anyone in the stands or anyone on the throwing team. You have to be able to identify on defense where that ball is coming from so that you can essentially spread out or shoot your body out like a bean stock and lay on your side so that you can defend as much of the goal as possible while still being, being able to identify where the ball is at. So you don't get hit in the face or break a finger or something of that nature. It's a very technical sport. And I wish I could explain it a little better, but that is the general just of the sport.

John:
I think I get a pretty good visual about that. As you mentioned, a visual acuity can vary quite a bit. So who qualifies for the USA? BA it sounds like maybe anybody with any kind of visual challenge would qualify. I was looking on the website, there are some classifications of athletes. How does that work?

Cat Bouwkamp:
In the international Paralympic realm there is the overarching organization that oversees blind and visually impaired sports called IBSA. And they have three visual qualifications that really span across all sports that have a visual impairment category within their sport. And they may be called something differently. So in goalball, they're labeled B1, B2, B3, but then in track, it's T11, T12, T13. It's the same classification system across all sports. They just sometimes have slightly different names, but we recognize the three IBSA classifications, which are B1, which is no light perception in either eye up to light perception and an inability to recognize the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction. So this would be your most severe visual impairment or blindness. And then moving up, we had to B2, which is from ability to recognize the shape of a hand up to visual acuity of 20/600 and, or a visual field of less than five degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction. And then moving up from there. The third IBSA visual classification is B3 from visual acuity above 20/600 and up to visual acuity of 20/200 and, or a visual field of less than 20 degrees and more than five degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction. I know those are a little technical, but typically the majority of our athletes fit into one of those three categories. And those are the three categories that are recognized internationally by IBSA. To reach the largest number of people with visual impairments in the U S we have a fourth classification called B4, and this is from visual acuity above 20/200 and up to visual acuity of 20/70, and a visual field larger than 20 degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction. So again, this is, that B4 is a classification that could not necessarily compete in the Paralympics, but that we include in our programming because we want to embrace the largest number, largest amount of people possible.

John:
So I am 20/300 in one eye and no light perception or zero vision in the other. Based on what you were just saying, it sounds like I probably fall into like, B2 or B3, one of those two.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Yes. So that, again, that is somewhat of a tricky one. You would most likely fall into the category of B3

John:
What is the best or most popular sports, I guess that the U S ABA

Cat Bouwkamp:
The most popular sport would be the sport of goalball, because we are that high performance management organization. That is again our baby. And so we facilitate the most amount of programs in that sport, and we definitely see the most involvement from our members in that sport as well.

John:
Some other sports cycling, I think was one of them. I'm interested in knowing more about what opportunities and programs are available for cycling.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Sure. Yeah. So in a non COVID year we host two in person cycling camps and at the Olympic and Paralympic training center in Colorado Springs. So what that kind of looks like is we bring in athletes who are interested in the sport of cycling, or who have dabbled in the sport of cycling and want to kind of increase their grassroots skills. And we bring them in, get them on a tandem bike, kind of really just help them hone their skills of cycling here at the Olympic and Paralympic training center in Colorado Springs with some of our national staff.

John:
Is it possible to find pockets around the country of cyclists that would be members of the U S ABA?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Absolutely. So one of my, again, roles as the membership coordinator is anyone who is interested in learning I'm in Indianapolis, Indiana. And I want to learn about visually impaired bowling. That's the kind of thing that someone would reach out to me. And I would be able to connect them directly to either someone who is in their area and performing that sport or service, or I would be able to connect them with someone on the national level who would be equipped to do such a thing.

John:
Is there anything else that we've missed about the USABA in general,

Cat Bouwkamp:
We really just span a wide gamut of both sports and a wide gamut of members. And we're excited to hopefully have more members.

John:
And where does somebody become a member? What's the best way to do that?

Cat Bouwkamp:
Absolutely. So if you wanted to become a member, you would go to www.usaba.org. And then from our homepage, you would be able to find the link to help you join as a member.

John:
Let's talk about the real reason we're here today is the beginning of national blind sports week.

Cat Bouwkamp:
It is indeed happy national blind sports week!

John:

Tell me everything you can about that.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Sure. So national blind sports week, again, is something that kind of stemmed out of this need for virtual programming from COVID and the danger that in person programming can cause to give you a little history. First, this is the third annual national blind sports day event and national blind sports day is a hopefully to be nationally recognized holiday on October 3rd. And so this is the third year that USA is doing programming for national blind sports day. But because we can't have that in-person programming aspect, we have created national blind sports week, which is a week long virtual experience that we'll be able to provide athletes, parents, coaches, teachers, anyone who is interested in sports for blind and visually impaired athletes, the resources to get involved in any sport, their heart could desire. We have five days of sports specific webinars. What I mean by that is today, we will have some youth specific webinars hosted by one of our emerging stars, which is a youth USABA athlete who has showed incredible promise in the blind and visually impaired sports world. And so she will be presenting on kind of what it's like to be a youth athlete in USABA where she got started and where opportunities are tomorrow will be a gold ball day where you can join along with our USA global national team coaches, as they do a educational webinar, they do a live scrimmage at our US Goalball Center for Excellence in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and our resident team program. There will be a Facebook live Q and A with some of our athletes. And then tomorrow night we will also have resource webinars. So those are webinars that are not necessarily sports specific, but that are relevant to our community as well as relevant to just people interested in learning more about how to navigate the sports world.

John:
Those events are taking place on Facebook, exclusively, or on the usaba.org website, somewhere else?

Cat Bouwkamp:
All of the above. So we had a registration process beforehand, and those who were able to register would be able to hop on our zoom sessions to be able to ask questions in real time. But for those that didn't have a chance to register, that is absolutely okay because we are going to be Facebook live streaming. All of our zoom sessions, the sessions will be available live in real time on Facebook, as well as available for those who registered on Zoom.

John:
It sounds like Facebook is a good place to go if you haven't already registered.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Exactly. If you want to head to our Facebook, it is just the US Association of Blind Athletes.

John:
Okay. We'll see you there then. I'm sure there's some opportunities for volunteers on these types of things that all the in person stuff. Do you have a place for those types of people to go to register to?

Cat Bouwkamp:
I'm glad you asked John the greatest part about National Blind Sports Week ending on national blind sports day is that, you know, we were all incredibly bummed that we can't do our large National Blind Sports Day in person programming, but what we can do and what we are doing this year is we are having a plethora of people, host virtual events on Saturday, October 3rd. So what's that what that will look like is people from all across the U S we'll be hosting virtual workouts, virtual seminars, virtual skills clinics. And so for those who are interested in getting involved on the facilitation or the volunteer side, that is the perfect opportunity for someone to kind of help out with national blind sports week, as well as being able to make a difference on national blind sports day itself, to find out more about National Blind Sports Week and National Blind Sports Day, you can go to our website at www.usaba.org/blindsportsday. And that will give you our most up to date schedule. That'll let you know when everything is going on, as well as how to view all of our Facebook live webinars, Q and A's and everything in between. So go on and check it out.

John:
And will we see Cat Bouwkamp at any of those events?

Cat Bouwkamp:
You betcha. I will be moderating 75% of these events. So I'm sure if you stop by, I will be there.

John:
Wow! You're going to be busy this week.

Cat Bouwkamp:
That is the plan.

John:
Well, thanks a bunch for squeezing us in Cat. It's a pleasure visiting with you. And I'm excited about blind sports a week and excited about the USABA. And I think I'm going to become a member myself.

Cat Bouwkamp:
Well, I'm so glad to hear it, John, and thank you so much for letting me share about this awesome National Blind Sports Week. And I look forward to meeting some of your listeners during the week.

September 15, 2020

Blind For A Purpose

Blake Lindsay is a speaker, author of Blind For A Purpose and the Manager of Outreach at Envision Dallas. He stops by to share his story and talk technology and White Cane Day.

 








Episode Transcript: 

John:
Hey, Blake. Thanks for joining us on the podcast.

Blake Lindsay:
Hey John, it's a pleasure to be on your podcast. Ambiguously Blind. I love it,

John:
That's right, because I am ambiguously blind. It's really hard for me to describe my vision to other people oftentimes. So I just call myself ambiguously blind.

Blake Lindsay:
Well, I appreciate you asking me to be on. It's been great to get to know you more and you know, I got to meet you even more last year, white cane day. We'll talk about, but it's a, you're, you're a great dude and I'm really glad to know you.

John:
Hey, thanks, Blake. I think the same of you as well. I like to start these conversations by kind of setting the table with what your visual acuity is or your vision, and as much detail as you can give us to kind of help us along in this conversation.

Blake Lindsay:
Well, I'm totally blind and I've been so since I was nine months old, infancy, you know, Blake, Lindsay blind since infancy, I always like to say, but I had cancer. I had Retinoblastoma that mom and dad had to put up with, obviously, because they were in a rush to save my life. And it was unique to them. They had never, ever experienced blindness before. They actually knew somebody who was blind just a little bit, but you know, they had no clue that one of their own kiddos was going to be blind. My 15 month old brother had all five of his senses. In fact, Brad's even got common sense today. I'm pretty proud of he's come a long way, but I always pick on my older brother, all five senses. And then I had all, all five of my senses as well for the first nine months of my life. And I could see well but my eyes started looking discolored and very unhealthy. And so mom and dad began taking me to the family doctor, a basic eye doctor, and they weren't getting clear answers and these people were admitting, so they said. They would just tell mom and dad, you need to further investigate because, this is just not our jurisdiction at all. So they finally got me to the IU Med Center in Indianapolis, Riley Hospital. And these guys were experts and they were able to detect that I had cancer in my eyes, and it was very important to get with it and remove that as soon as possible and to take my readiness, which was gonna you know, totally delete my sight, so to speak, but it certainly was going to save my life if they could get to it in time. And obviously they did. I'm pretty happy about that!

John:
What a decision to make for a nine month old. Wow!

Blake Lindsay:

Yes, they were 25 and 26 years old when I was born. And so they were young parents, college educated, they were school teachers and already in education. And you know, it really was I'm sure that it was a hard decision, a easy decision once they realized it was going to be life saving, but it was still a shock-a-roo to them. They did a lot of praying. I know that during the surgeries that they really prayed that, that I would get out there and make a difference in people's life. And so they really dedicated my life to the Lord immediately. And wanted me to do some good things and not sit on the sidelines and be a productive fulfilled person, you know, a contributor like you are, and that's, that's how we need to be. And that's how I've always been. Mom and dad just did not let me sit around and do nothing. And they always knew that if I had an obstacle, they tried to help me with solutions, wanted me to create my own solutions. But they were on me in a really, really good way. And I look back at that and smile because they were kind of hard on me, but not too hard. They certainly were, were gentle. But you know, when it came to just being lazy, they didn't allow it in our family. And I love that about them today because it's really helped me to, to build careers and to be able to want to be a contributor and do as much as I possibly can.

John:
Yeah, well, that upbringing has certainly served you well,

Blake Lindsay:
It did, it made all the difference in, you know, positive parenting is really something, that's why I wrote the book Blind For A Purpose because I wanted parents to realize that that kiddos need to push and they need to be believed in and they need to not let their kiddos make excuses unless they're legitimate obstacles. And you know, the many obstacles can be overcome if you just work on the solutions and think them through and talk to other people who've gone through it, you know, try to try to locate those who have gone through what you're trying to get through. So, you know, mom and dad were just really pushy like that. And so my book was basically to educate and to really encourage parents that they need to believe in their kids, no matter what their so-called disability or difference, as I like to call it differences really. I don't believe in disabilities for the most part, unless somebody loses or limbs later in life, you know, they have to readjust. And so there's, there's different things. that can be become a temporary disability, certainly as you're going through it as you're going through the transition and the transformation of the whole thing.

John:
Tell me the name of the book, again.

Blake Lindsay:
It's called Blind For A Purpose, Turning Life-challengesInto Purpose In Life.

John:
Is that a book that the casual person can pick up somewhere?

Blake Lindsay:
Yeah. It's, it's on Amazon and then I've got plenty, you know, and I usually I discounted it when I can just bring it to somebody. I take the price from $15 to $10, because I'm not really eager to make money from it. I just want it to help people. So I try to select you know, when I give it away, I tried to select those that I know it's really going to bless him and make a difference in their life. And what they're getting ready to go through perhaps is got some similarities or a little bit of parallel, you know, just even a little bit, they can grab it, be encouraged and know that they need to be inspirational to their kids and push them as opposed to hold them back as opposed to let them do nothing. And then they'll, there'll be sorry if they do that later in life. I know I used to meet people. I couldn't believe it. I, you know, they would graduate from high school and didn't even know how to boil an egg. And mom had me doing that when I was eight, nine years old. She taught me how to boil eggs for 12 minutes and that, you know how to be careful around heat. I wasn't baking things in the oven, but I was helping her prepare meals, doing dishes, you know, and trying to, and I didn't become a gourmet or anything like that, but just good little basic cooking skills he already which was creative in how teach me. And then I took a little bit of Home Ec in summer school. We used to have kind of a recreational summer school and it was very much recreation, but Home Ec was one of those benefits and I got to make potato chips and different things. And I'm glad I didn't feast my whole diet on life, but they sure were good at the time. And they would tell you so good and realizing that I had made them, but you know, parents just really need to push their children best they can. And you can't over expect, you gotta be reasonable and an understanding of, of some of the the obstacles that you have to you know, to learn how to get over. But we all have hurdles to hop over. And if we, if we try to help each other do that and, and try to be relatable, it's I never consider it a complaint when somebody tells me about something that they're going through, that's hard for, you know, just giving them a hard time because I can encourage them. But it also makes me realize that certainly I'm not the only one that has a bad day here and there as we all do And I think we can all really help each other by sometimes you stopping down and tell the things that are not going as well in our life is we would like them to be, and we can pray for each other that way, but we can obviously encourage each other just through conversation. And Hey, I've kind of been there with that, John, that you know, one time I, you know, and just kinda, and sometimes my story may not quite relate with yours, but, you know, I always try to be I like to say a little parallel, you know, with, with relating with what you might be going through that I might be able to give you a little bit of help and a dumpster. You can do the same for me.

John:
Absolutely. It sounds like a great book. And maybe, I don't know, there's a listener out there that could use an autographed copy of Blake's book. So we'll see if we can't put something together like that too.

Blake Lindsay:
If you know, any parents who are going through anything like, you know, having kids that, that have a unique talents, it doesn't have to be blindness. It could be whatever. But I think the, you know, the topic is the same. Be overcomers believe in your kids, even if they have some differences you know, try to find ways to get over them and then learn how to do that. And parents are good at that. If they want to be no doubt about it,

John:
When somebody finds out that you're blind in this case totally blind. What are the most common misconceptions that you usually hear?

Blake Lindsay:

Well, I think that they think that we can barely do anything because they don't know any better. And I wouldn't either, if I didn't know a person who was blind or if I wasn't blind myself, but if they haven't experienced really being around a person who's blind in a Workday, or just kinda even here in my home, you know, getting around and doing things, helping my wife clean up the kitchen, whatever I might do to support her, I like to do the laundry cause I did it when I was a bachelor. So I, I like to do it today. I like to clean the commodes and believe it or not, but I keep up with them every week. So they're never really all that dirty. But bottom line is most people that haven't been around, a person who's blind or visually impaired has no clue what we can do for obvious reasons. And so when we enlighten them at first, they can almost defend you. You have to be careful to not them, but they're like really, you know, acting like it's just a no way, you know, but really they're just trying to absorb it. And I, I had to really tune into that because until I was in high school, I really just thought, how dare you think I couldn't do that? You know, for a single second, come on, you know, cause I would never exaggerate or inflate the truth on it. But bottom line is they, they imagine worst case scenario. A lot of times people think if I lost my sight, that would be one of the worst things that could possibly happen to me. And so they're clueless about that. And so they really think we can do practically nothing except eat. You know, we're all good at that. And it's basically a, in your case, when you barbecue for people, you know, people want to eat, but that's something that we all have in common. But once, once I get to talk and have a good chat or somebody who's curious, it opens up their curiosity even more. And before I know it, they're realizing what I can do and they're encouraged by it. And if they ever have an opportunity to hire somebody who's blind, there'll be all over it. If it's a good fit. So I'm not offended by that. And I wouldn't know either, you know? And so I used to think, come on you big dummy, you know, you, I mean, surely you think I can do something, but, but how would they know? You know, and it's the funniest thing I worked at one 106.1 KISS FM in Dallas as a DJ. But remarkably people ask me what I did there. It's like, you know, when you think about it, well, what could I have done there? And so I always say, well, I was a window washer. You know, I was one of the best janitors they ever had and they get to thinking about that and they thought, Oh, I just asked them. And so I don't say that anymore because that can be almost me being condescending a little bit. So I, but that's what I used to say when I, when I first got over there and then they would tune me in and you know, remarkably they'd be impressed by that, but I would always tease him. I'd say, well, what's a blind guy supposed to do, you know, radio is a good option. You know,

John:
It is, and you've got a tremendous voice for radio, I might add. And I do know KISS FM in Dallas and you were on air for several years.

Blake Lindsay:
I was on the air for seven years, 1994 through 2001 and got to work with Kidd Kraddick. And he was a very much a practical joker. He really, he felt comfortable around me as a person who's blind from the get, go. From the start. we just really got to know each other. And his birthday was one day after mine. So we'd always wish he took her happy birthday each year, but Kidd was one of these guys that I get a kick out of him. One time we were eating at a station lunch and we'd have a monthly luncheon on Wednesdays. And he stuck my fork into something on his plate that I did not have on my plate when I had my hands down. And I was just, you know, wiping my face or whatever. So I picked up my fork and he said, what'd you think of that bite? You know, I'm sure I, I had an interesting face because I knew that I didn't have that on my plate, but that was a kind of, that's the kind of fun I really enjoy. And you know, because he, and he chuckled and got a kick out of that. And I thought that was really cool. That's one of my favorite memories as a Kidd.

John:
Over the years. So it's been quite some time or all of your life, I guess rather opportunities for mobility. You've probably changed around quite a bit. Cane travel, dog assisted travel. What is your or some other sort of device? What, have you used and what have you found the most effective?

Blake Lindsay:
Well, I never got to work with a dog. I was around dogs and I love dogs and I was always experiencing what they were doing for others. And I had a lot of friends that use seeing eye dogs, dog guides, and, you know, all kinds of, they call them dog guides now, but they seeing eye to eye leader, dog to all the, all the various ones. And I was always impressed by that, but I started using a cane when I just right before I was 11 years old guy by the name of Pat, I never will forget him. You know, taught me how to be, how to get my freedom and the biggest thrill that I ever got. I lived in a small town at that time, which is really grown. It's 20 miles North of Indianapolis, Indiana. It's called Westfield and it's just 20 miles North, West of downtown. And this town I grew up in had nice post office and bakery in a bank, in a, you know, stores and in different things in a town of 3,200 people. And so he was able to come one summer and show me how to get around my hometown. And I never will forget the freedom. Cause I used to get bored out of my gord at home. Like I would just not have as much to do as my, my active brother in sports. And I loved being around my parents, but I mean, I just always was, was kind of restless. But as soon as I got ahold of my cane and learned how to use it and how to navigate all over that town thanks to, you know, Pat's, good guidance. I, I was really enjoying life to the fullest. I really got out there. And so many people were impressed with that and I could hear it in their voices when they would see me getting around, especially at the beginning when they weren't used to seeing blind Blake is around, you know, and they were now, wow, Hey, you're getting around. Good. You know, and they were very inspired by that. I showed up at a bakery one day, the Jenny Marie Bakery. They had some of the best donuts in town and a lady by the name of Ruby Whitmore. I remember she was about 60 years old and I was 15 and she just took time to really love on me. And then just tell me how much I just inspired her to know when to see me get around solo crossing stoplights. And she would, she would watch me at first in fear, but then that fear turned into wow, wow factor. And so she would treat me to some donuts and she kind of spoiled me a little bit, but we got to be good friends. And she was kind of a young grandmother type lady, but it went on and on like that with mobility that was some of the best freedom and I get really good at it. And then I got married, to be honest with you, John, I've kind of lost a lot of that. I mean, I still know how to use cane. I have good technique, but I'm just not utilizing my, my own personal freedom. Like I was, cause I just grabbed her arm and off we go. But when it, when it really mattered, when I really needed to get around solo, I could, you know, being totally blind because of the people that trained us. And that's why I get so excited about white cane day every year. And we'll talk about that later, but I really admire orientation and mobility. Cause you got to put your trust in these people who know how to teach here. And it's a trust factor and they've gone through a lot of training to make sure that they can do it right. And then before long your cross, some big four way stoplights, Josey/Beltline, where I used to live near a big intersection, Josey/Kelly, you know, all those Carrollton stuff and a big traffic lots of traffic, but I was confident because I knew what to listen for and when to go and when not to go. And so a cane travel's always been easiest for me. I do, you know, just because that's the only thing that I know my ears are not as good as they used to be. I'm in my mid fifties now and I do a lot of flying and unfortunately that flying around the year pressure, the cabin pricer has, has kind of shocked my ears a few times. Not that often, but so my ears are not quite as bright as they were at one time, but I haven't lost my radar, you know, diminished, but I used to be able to see with my ears. And you've, you've heard about that before with the echo perception that we have, that we all have kind of like bats in our ears guide us. And so I really had a, just a very good ears and accurate. And you know, I, I still can turn it a crooked hallway and know when to turn without touching the wall just by the sounds. But so I, I still try to use my ears a lot to make sure that they don't diminish on me all the away.

John:
What about glasses? Do you wear shades or just regular glasses for protection?

Blake Lindsay:
Sometimes for the fun of it? I wear black shades, your dark shades and people wear, you know, the Stevie Wonder the people that were dark shades, they, they stereotype us. And so sometimes I just do that to get a kick out of it gives mine are, these guard glasses, which are actually a blazing red hot they're, they're really noticeable. And so sometimes you know, on Halloween kind of gag costumes, all dressed up as the blind biker and, you know, put on the leather jacket and the, in the dark glasses that are blazing hot. And so but I don't need them. And it's most of the people that have worn them in the past have eyes that, that need a little help, that don't look real good, that don't look healthy. And that's why some people get prosthetics and, you know, if they're totally blind, but that was the main reason for many years is people's eyes really were, were not attractive. And so they would just, or they'd get too much light there. They're too sensitive to light, you know, whatever, whatever condition they had. If, if they saw light, it just looked really, really bright and uncomfortable, which was another reason people would wear dark shades.

John:
Yeah, for me, the shades are important. I have challenges in going from high to low light or from low to highlight. So the sunglasses help me balance that out for the adjustment necessary for that transition period. And also I wear them for protection too, because when I'm, when I am walking around it's not unusual for a tree branch or some other item to be at my eye level. I may not see it. And I'm just, so it doesn't get me too bad in the face, you know?

Blake Lindsay:
Yes. Well, I'm glad you wear them. If, if they're, they're doing you some good with me, it's more of a, more of a joke, but I know that people do have reasons to wear them different, different reasons.

John:
What about any kind of medical opportunities or any research done for your specific retina? I guess, situation?

Blake Lindsay:
I can assume by what's happened the past 20 years, the next 20 are even going to be greater with a fascinating things that come out. I don't have any retinas. And so it's going to have to be kind of a synthetic you know, camera version of sight that would probably be computerized and, and would, would you know, be clearer and clearer. I'm sure as time progresses. I've been blind all my life and I never have wanted my sight back in my adult life after I established my careers. When I was a kid though, I did want my sight back. Cause I was so curious, but I've gotten to where I really, when I meet people, I informed them how exciting it is for me when they explained what things look like. And so I never really feel like I'm missing out and I can kind of get a visual of what things look like based on what people tell me. And so I always encourage people to do that because it makes them feel good that they're, they can be my eyes for me. My wife has gotten very good at it and she had a knack for it. Anyway, even from the start, didn't have to coach her. When we see movies together, she can give me a five second nutshell of anything that she knows I would have had to miss, you know, based on the visual. So I don't really I don't miss not being able to see since I can't relate to it, but yet I can relate with what people are seeing by what they're telling me. I really at least get a mental visual that may not quite be accurate, but I'm, you know, putting my imagination with with, with what they're stating. And, and it's a pretty good combo. I really, I feel like I can see a lot, I feel like I'm not really missing out most of the time. And I think when I was a kid, I thought I was, but then the, you know, the older I got, the more I realized, Hey, people can tell me what things look like. And I can imagine, you know, colors and, and just different things. What a beautiful sunny day, it looks like clear blue sky. You know, you get a lot of definition from people. And, and so I don't intend on getting my sight back, but I won't be at all surprised if that opportunity is there and then pretty Tepe in the next 20 years. And I think it'll actually happen sooner than that. But with, with any technology that great, you know, it's going to be expensive or somebody is going to give you a gimme and they want you to be a Guinea pig you know, and, and not charge you, but yet you you're going through whatever. And so I don't want to be that guy either. Really, if I was younger, I probably would, if I was 20 years old, maybe, you know, I'm not against it. I think that that progress like that is great. And they, they should, they should keep doing it because there's enough people that lose their sight later in life that miss having it and could use it back again. It would re you know, it, it would help them to get their sight back.

John:
There's a lot of things happening in the technology space with that type of stuff. And I want to talk to you about, about technology. For me, the iPhone was really a game changer as far as accessibility and just, I don't know, all around something that just, I don't know, it changed, it changed a lot for me, and I've heard other people say that with other disabilities as well, but vision in particular, to me, it was huge. Are you an iPhone user?

Blake Lindsay:
Very much so, and I never will forget the very first week that I got my iPhone about eight years ago, had a situation where somebody had already taught me how to use walking directions and driving directions. And I had had the crash course. And the only time that I hated my iPhone was maybe the first day or two, because by the third day, I started to really catch on to Steve jobs, accessibility. And he, you know, he was one of these guys that wanted us to be able to use the iPhone as well as a person with full sight. So by the third, fourth day, I was getting better at it and I was already delighted. I had it. But then I had a situation where I had a cab driver that didn't know English, where the, who, I don't know where he was from, but it wasn't Spanish either. I couldn't, we couldn't keep up with each other communication wise. So as he approached my job, I knew that he was going to have to turn around to let me off on the right side, you know, to do what's, what's a protocol for, for dark paratransit. And so I simply told him because I knew that then they would have to turn back around, you know, once they turned around for me to get me out on the right side, they'd have to turn back around to leave. So I said, driver, you sure don't have to turn around for me. I can just get out. You know, I can get out when, when you arrive. Well, he thought that I wanted to get out then and there and maybe get some exercise. He knew I wasn't mad at him. You know, I want to get out, you know, it wasn't like that, but he thought, well, we're pretty close to work. Maybe Blake wants to walk, get some exercise. So he lets me off. And before I knew where I wasn't you know, I he was driving off and it turned out I was three, about three blocks from where I needed to be. So that was my first experience with the iPhone, which made me even more thrilled to have it. I turned it on walking directions and gotten complete assistance. And I called my buddy out and let him know that what had happened. So he could kind of be on the listen for me, he's totally blind as well. And he was the one that taught me the iPhone. And so anyway, I got to work and you know, I walked at three blocks and I was close. It wasn't three miles, thank goodness. It was three blocks. And but that was just one experience of many that it made me so thrilled that I've got an iPhone. And I like the bill reader. You know, I went ahead and bought the $10 and the nine 99 app right away to read my bills. And my wife had originally spent over $300 on me to have a really nice bill reader technology, because she knew how much that would benefit me to know a one from a five to a 10 20, you know, then you can fool them after you read them, obviously you're you fold them a certain way and you know what you got. But I used to get ripped off a lot when I was younger because I, I was careless and didn't know what I had. And so I would assume I remember I asked the cab driver one time. I said is this a one or a 20, well, what a dumb question? You know what, you're, you're setting yourself up for failure. Is this a one or a 20? Well, it's a one, it's a one, you know, it's like, so it turned out to be a 20 because I knew what I was supposed to have. And then I got back home and realized that I gave the due to 20 cause I had just been by the bank, but I hadn't separated my twenties from my ones. So shame on me, shame on them, of course, but shame on me for not being organized and asking that way I should have said this is a 20. Right. You know, it should have been my question. And then if it was a one, he'd say, no, man, it's a one and I would have believed him. But, but I asked the question the stupid way. So yeah, you live and learn. And then, so you know, the I bill was, was something that came out for, for cheap. And then the iPhone actually had the app. So technology is really helped out people like you and me, no doubt about it. But that, that was the iPhone. I, I tend to agree with you when people, when people ask me what my favorite piece of technology has been over the last 20 years, iPhone is immediate first place because I can text, I use Siri more than I should. I'm not very fast typing on a, on a small keyboard. So I do use Siri quite a bit, but I make sure that I listened to the message playback. And it's usually accurate enough that I hit sand it's 99% there. So, you know, sometimes there's a blender here and there, but I just, I love the iPhone, reading my email you know, texting people being able to know where I'm at all the time, what the weather is stock market, whatever new. Yup.

John:
Okay, other than the, iPhone is the easy answer here for your best piece of technology. You've at this a lot longer than me. So other than the iPhone what is your favorite piece of technology you've had?

Blake Lindsay:
Well, if I go back to 1994, I got hired at Bank of America, former Nations Bank. And I had already heard about the Power Braille, which has an 80 cell braille display. And so it reads an entire line of braille. It's refreshable braille. It doesn't use any paper and it doesn't make any noise unless your ears are really, really close to it. You can kind of hear it go, you know when it's refreshing it almost a, a very quiet grasshopper sound, not, not nearly as loud as a grasshopper, but as the, as the pins come up and inform the dots you know, they make just a teeny tiny bit of sound, but they're, it's an incredible technology that, and job access with speech combined, you can do all kinds of customer service jobs. You can read people's accounts, you know, bank accounts and you memorize what line everything is on on the page. And so you're able to arrow up and down extremely fast and you know exactly how many times to count. I get very good at it. And so my efficiency keeping up with a sighted CSR, we just call customer service rep. I was able to easily keep up with that 2.27 handle time. There was always a handle time and you were supposed to be able to give them a lot of information, but they really wanted you to be off, off the phone quickly in about two and a half minutes so that you could roll onto the next one and then take 160 to 180 calls a day, help out a bunch of people, but give them good efficient answers, and then try to make sure that you covered your needs. And so I got really good with the power wheel combined with job access with speech. And I also use that combination at Dallas Area Rapid Transit. When I worked at Dart in customer service, I didn't work on the Paratransit side actually. Well I did for a little while. I did some public relations for them. And I was in the certification department for a while, but I found my best fit was actually going to that 979-1111 call center is the telephone number (214) 979-1111. But I was able to help people a route on light rail and see the whole map. You know, I got really good with this braille display and I was properly trained by this guy by the name of Yarrow Sutton. Yarrow Sutton was my, my trainer. And you never forget who, who trains you in and makes it happen for you, but Yarrow was patient. And he was really excited about technology. He had learned quite a bit about it. I showed him how it works, he paid attention. And so he was able to really help me to navigate quite a bit with this, this thing called trapeze. That was the, the platform that Dart was using at the time. And the people in Canada who created trap, you said no way a blind guy can do this. So it turned out. I had this guy named Frank from Houston. He came out in the actually scripted y'all for me and made it compatible without a mouse. And it was good job for me. You know, I was able to, again, encourage a lot of people for a couple of years there at dark. So that's good old school technology that's been around since the early nineties is Jaw's and then the Power Braille Display.

John:
Yeah. You mentioned Jaws. So does that mean you were working in a windows environment?

Blake Lindsay:
I did. And I worked in adults environment when I first got in and that, that was very compatible with not needing scripted. At Bank of America, former Nations bank actually is what it was at the time. And so I was able to walk in there and tell them what I needed. They bought it, they got a tax break for it after three years. And so they got their money back and everything. And they also had a guy that was really excited about working in customer service. And I was one of the top 10% all the time in the call center, a 400 people. So they could count on my good work, but they showed me off a lot. And you know, people would eliminate a lot of their excuses when they would see a totally blind guy doing the job correctly and getting good survey scores from customers, but also good monitoring scores from the monitoring team on covering all the, everything that we were supposed to do. So, yeah, jaws is you know, the PC I've always been in the windows environment. I did have a Mac for a moment and it was interesting because I was bailing my buddy out. He said, I've got this really nice Mac computer, and I need money. I'd like to sell it to you. So you told him, sold it to me for 1500 bucks. And they had a really nice screen. Of course it wouldn't benefit me, but you know, other people, users like my wife had a big 27 inch beautiful screen. I called it a handsome computer. Cause it really was, I was proud of it, but who'd, I couldn't use it, John, I got it home. And you know, the, the commands, I was surprised how different it was from a PC. Now, if you, you know, the, the speed software, which was, are already on, I didn't use jaws cause it's got its own. Of course. And it was incredibly good. I thought, Oh good, it's got good speed stuff already on it. Don't have to buy anything. And so if I had grown up in the Mac environment, I would have loved that thing. And, and I, you know, I'm sure I could've learned it. I just wasn't patient at about it. So I went ahead and sold it pretty quickly because I just didn't need it. And I knew it was going to take a lot of effort that I didn't have a lot of time for, to learn how to use a Mac. And I thought, Oh, you know, why do it, I'm doing fine on a PC, but I do like those Macs and they're, they're very blind friendly, especially if you're, you know, if you're on it at the beginning or if you're adaptable and I'm not really adaptable, you know, technology is something that I admire and that I learned how to use, but sometimes it takes a minute for me to really get accustomed to it. I'm not somebody who can just pick it up and go with it. And I do know people who are blind who can do that.

John:
Alright. Well then let's slow it down a little bit and see what is the best piece of low tech?

Blake Lindsay:
No, you're not going to believe it. You're not going to believe this, but the Perkins braille writer came out probably in the thirties or forties, I don't know, a long time ago, but I use that thing all the time to just make a note that I can read anytime, you know, on a piece of paper, I take a, I take junk mail and you know, the nice thick paper because it holds your, your note. And so when I'm doing a speech and I'm talking about certain things, I don't write up my speech, but I write certain talking points that I want to make sure that I did. I point out and I focus on a little bit. And so I'll write myself some notes on a, you know, that nice thick paper. That's not very big and I can hold it down by my side. And they think I've memorized it all. And I pretty much have, but I just need a little nudges that I write down. So the Perkins where writers something that I make notes on you know what I do radio shows I can, I can, you know, read commercials and all kinds of things by, by brailling it out. And of course I could do that on good technology as well, but I really disliked it, just braille it out on a piece of paper. And I I've had pack mates. I've had different note takers before, and I like them, you know, there's nothing wrong with them obviously, but the other thing is going to make you chuckle. I get a 1985 cassette recorder. I told you about the other day, that's in my office. And when I'm on a good quality speaker phone, like I am at work you know, I can turn that recorder on. And it's just, it just sounds like the person is right there, even though I'm talking with them over a speakerphone. And then when I write a story about him or already call about him, I quote him correctly because obviously I got the recording and I let them know that I'm recording immediately, but I use that cassette recorder and that's 45 minutes on each side of a good Maxell or a TDK Chrome tape. And it just sounds like a million bucks. And here's the thing is a 35 year old cassette that people laugh at me when they see that next to my Firkins rail writer. I keep them side by side.

John:
There's some old school terminology there. Where do you find cassettes? Are they pretty easy to find?

Blake Lindsay:
Well, I bought a bunch of them you know, years ago because I knew they were on their way out. And so I bought several that were high quality. There's probably still places you can purchase them, but I went ahead and bought several. So I just use the same tapes over and over again. I'm very careful to not put a strain on them. And so I can pull, you know, one single quality cassette I can get probably four or five years out of because all I'm doing is just using it over and over and over and, you know, taking notes in mano. And so you know, the heads seem to be cleaned still. It still seems to be sound sharp, but yeah, you don't get old cassette recorder. Shoot. I mean, I, I used to use a microcassette recorder when I did telemarketing. When people would read a whole bunch of cold call, a telephone number for me, I had these little micro cassette recorders. And so those were very valuable to me and all this stuff is digital today, you know, but I I still like the analog stuff as well, but I can use the digital, you know, and I do sometimes, but I think I get a kick out of using old stuff because it still works. And it does what I needed to.

John:

Sure. Now when it comes to reading, are you a reader? You're a writer and an author, obviously. So do you read a lot?

Blake Lindsay:
I read mainly with you with CDs and of course, audible stuff. I, I don't read a lot of braille books anymore. Like I did in school as much as I do you know, articles, sometimes I'll read magazines, braille magazines in short stories, but typically I, I can read a lot quicker. But, but you're using a different part of your brain though, you know, when you do read at least I always heard that for sighted people and I assumed that people who are blind, same thing, you're using a different part of your brain. And so I do take time to read a little bit of braille all the time, but it's primarily when I'm making myself notes and doing speeches and that kind of thing or reading commercials. So with, with books, I I've gone more CD over the years and which has become more online stuff, but I still like CDs cause I put it in my boom box. There's more old school talk for you, but I go out in the garage tonight, I exercise on my bike. And so I plugged in the headphones, plug in the Sony's and you know, listened to a good CD and I can learn while I'm really working out. And so your adrenaline's pumping and it seems to, you know, kick it in your brain even better.

John:
Yeah. So do you, don't put that boombox up on your shoulder and walk around with it?

Blake Lindsay:
No, I just, I just keep it there on a counter and then I've got extended headphone cord and I just stay on the bike. And then I, when I jumped on the stairstep or I just take the headphones off, but it's entertaining. I listen to music too. Music is always fun. It just depends on what, what I feel like doing, whether I feel like educating myself or, or bouncing around a little bit and then hearing some of my favorite tunes.

John:
So what are your favorite tunes if you had to pick a couple?

Blake Lindsay:
I would say the seventies is my favorite decade, cause it reminds me of when I was a kid, but really music started sounding big stereo just, you know, in the sixties they had stereo obviously, but it was too separated and there was kind of a hole in the middle of it. You know, with the Beatles, a lot of that stuff that they remastered later actually sounded better. And because they, they were able to get that whole out of it. But a lot of the early sixties stuff you know, groups like the birds and different ones, it's, it's, doesn't sound really great. Some of the, you know, like 68, 69 by then they were starting to really get it down. But seventies is my favorite memories I think, of, of school and I'd get good memories now, too, you know, but it just, you reminisce and you, you remember exactly what you were doing or maybe during wrestling season that this song came out or something, you know? And, and so I, it's funny. Cause when I talked to my folks in the seventies, they said they were listening to the fifties, you know, my mom and dad were, and they said sometime the seventies is going to be the fifties to you. And it sure is, you know, here, we're talking about music 45 years ago, but I like to, I get to live the disco era. And I was used to a little, you know, I was used to boy elementary, junior high school and it, but I like the eighties, cause it reminds me of when I got into broadcasting and I liked the nineties and it reminds me of kiss FM a lot. So I really like every decade. And I I've learned to like country music. I worked at a country station for awhile and I wasn't really adapted to much country, but it's feel good music. A lot of it sounds really good actually. I've learned to like it classical was probably my least favorite, but I admire it. And I know it takes a lot of just educated people to come up with some of the great, you know, Mozart kind of songs that there are out there and some of them really do sound good. I have to be in the mood for it. But I noticed that if I'm focusing on my notes, if I'm getting ready to do a presentation and that classical music really is a good idea, it actually somehow punches me into the focus mode and I'm able to focus better and to get it in my mind better. I I like jazz music a lot. I love jazz Christmas jazz as well. There's like Christmas jazz coffee shop, you know, on Spotify that you can get in different things. But to me, jazz is some of my favorite music. There's a a lady pianist named BG Adair. That is one of the best jazz musicians I've ever heard. And she just really makes it happen. And so it's very enthusiastic music. So that's probably my favorite, but I've always been a top 40 DJ mostly. Did all these too though. I worked at 97.7 KLUV before I worked at KISS. And at that time they were mainly playing 1955 to 1976 tunes cause I was there in 1993. So that was interesting. Cause a lot of that stuff was before me, but I got pretty good at knowing quite a bit about the artist of yesteryear. And I thought of my mom and dad, you know, when I'd play that stuff.

John:
Yeah. Well you have, you've got a lot of experiences Blake and I also am beginning to understand that you don't forget a name.

Blake Lindsay:
Well, you know, our pads memories never go away, but sometimes current memory, I don't know about that. I, I have to work a little harder on that these days, but I'm not senile yet. I still get the thread on the tire here.

John:
Let's talk a little bit about Envision Dallas. What was formerly called Dallas Lighthouse for Blind? What goes on there? That's where you hang out during most days? Is it not?

Blake Lindsay:
Yes, it is. What Envision Dallas is we actually we merged with a great company that I already knew a lot about cause these people we had done a lot of projects together, but Michael [inaudible] is the CEO of envision inc in Wichita, Kansas, and we're in 11 States, they have army base stores, army based supply stores all over the place. And they're well known for all their educational platforms. They have some of the best they call it level up programs that they have in the summer. And I've gotten to be a part of those for the past five years. And it just really inspires me to get to speak to students who are blind and visually about their future. So they're an incredible company and they also are a manufacturer like we are. So sometimes we can envision Dallas and envision Wichita can actually team up on projects and we'll, we'll ship the parts to each other, to complete the project, but we're going to do more and more of that, where we can team up and they can do a piece of it. And we can do a piece of it in our manufacturing areas because what envision is and what former Dallas lighthouse for the blind is, is two things. It's a manufacturer or we're the largest employer for people who are blind and visually impaired in North Texas in our case. And so people can come in and there they train up for, we have a sewing department do all kinds of things for Tex dot. We make vests, make a lot of their uniforms. When you're seeing a road crew, you know, chances are, we made the uniform, we made those reflective vests that they wear. And we're real proud of that. And we worked with TexDOT for, for many years and they've been one of our very best clients in sewing, but we can really make anything. And so we just have to be properly trained by the right people who really know what they're doing. And we engineer the machines, we modify them with guards, they call them jigs, but we have this guy, Luis Vargas, I call him our MacGyver, but this guy is incredible with just modifying equipment and making it a safe and efficient and accurate as possible or ISO certified. So everything we make has to be very, very accurate for us to continue to get the business from the army, the Navy, the coast guard, Marines, you know, we, we covered all the military spectrum, but we're also able to do commercial work if, if the numbers work and that's a little more difficult for us because China's our competition. And then, you know, the prices can get very low. And so to train people up, to modify the equipment, to make sure that we're making money, sometimes our prices have to be a little bit higher, not always, but sometimes that, that disables us from getting an opportunity. But we do all kinds of things. A lot of legacy products we've made for years, but the other side of envisioned Dallas and envisioned a Wichita is a orientation and mobility teaching. We've got some of the very best, you know, orientation, mobility, people around to show us what Pat just showed me. We got assistive technology training with computers and all the iOS stuff. We've got people who are blind and visually impaired, you teach it. So the relatable, so people can say, well, you can do it. Cause you can see, that's not the case. We have a, you know, a couple of totally blind people Donna and Al and then we have Amando Ortiz who is a partial he's he's got just about 20, over 200. So he's a screen enlarger you had about this height that you do, John, just, you know, he's ambiguously blind, but yeah, so it's, it's really a good, a good training program. Then we have a an occupational therapist. We have an OT there, dr. Lampert, who is also our orientation and mobility teacher, and she's had loads of experience and we're real proud to have her. And then we have a program director now for the first time in years named Wendy Johnson. And Wendy is very good at coming up with new programs. And so we've got a new art program that we're excited about. It's called expressive art. And so we've got a little art studio set up and we're going to be working with the Dallas art museum. We're going to be working with my friends over at a sculpture center. That's that's downtown Dallas as well. So we're doing all kinds of great things, you know, with, with the art program, orientation, mobility, assistive technology training, and being an employer. And we're just getting new stuff all the time. We've totally revamped the building. And so we took this, this old building, you know, that same gold and we made it brand new on the inside. And so we all tied up, had to put up with the noises, but it sure was productive noise. And we knew that good things were going to be the outcome. So we heard a lot of bang in there for six or nine months, but we're, we're sure excited about what happened with it. And my office for the first time in my life is right across from the restroom. So I don't have to waste much time if I gotta use the restroom. I'm quaking, I'm back to work with clean hands and no time. And just glad to be able to have a new seeming building with all these new platforms, our assistive technology lab and just everything in there is really a brand new, you know, she'll say it smells good. It's it's new. And then we finally got Esther's place. This is something I've always wanted ASB, you know, had Esther's place for a long time. And what it is is an apartment that's totally created for people who lose her sight anytime, really, but the people who need it the most who need to come in there and see what we have are those who are losing their sight. And they're wondering, how am I going to be able to be independent in my living place? And so we have a kitchen with all the utensils of a person who's blind or visually impaired to be able to use well. And you know, we've got talking for monitors, we just have a lot of, a lot of great technology. That's simple to use a lot of the simple stuff. And then we have color contrast in the apartment for those who have a little bit of vision, but you know, different colors makes it better and brighter and easier for them to navigate. And so this apartment Esther was originally the lady who, who thought of it, never got to meet her. I don't think she's alive today. I told them they should call it Out of Sight Living. I thought that'd be a good name.

John:
Yeah. I think I've been there. It's done with the AFB. Yeah.

Blake Lindsay:
Yes. Yep. And so we're, we're still working with AFB and Neva Fairchild, you know, as a good friend of mine. And we she's not currently working directly with us, but I, I know she'll probably be instrumental in the beginning stages of how to show people through, but AASB, we're, we're really close and partnering with them and their donors that, that used to, you know, provide funding for, for this. And I think it's one of the best things that people can really look forward to coming in and, and seeing it and, you know, believing in their independence again, after they, after they see what's in there and learn, you know, how, how much easier it is than what they thought it was going to be. It's, it's a real encourager. So we finally are just opening that up. We just installed all the, all the stuff in it here in the last couple of weeks, it's brand spanking, new or eager for people to come through. As soon as the COVID-19 is behind us a little bit more. But we take temperatures from people come in now and we keep our six feet apart and we've got a free mask that we actually make. We make masks had envisioned Dallas and our sewing department that we sell to text dot and other, other state agencies. And I've been selling to schools public schools, colleges, universities, tech schools, the whole Scooby doo. So we we've really got a lot to show off and it's people who are blind and visually impaired that we care about. And we're, we're making it happen for, you know, the people who are only 30% employment rate, 70% unemployment rate in the blind community still. And I want that to change. I know you do too, John, that's just ridiculous that it ought to be 50, 50 and even better. But I would say it should be 50 50 by now with technology. But the thing that I always tell people, and I won't get on my soap box, I promise you, but people who are blind can not always do what they want to do. Neither can sighted people, but sometimes you get to take a job that may not seem fun, and it may not be your dream job, like customer service. For example, I used to try to get some of my, my blind buddies to come in with me and do customer service. They're like, Oh no, man, I'd be cussing out the customer. And it's like, no, you wouldn't, you you're a professional. You're making a living. You're helping people out. You're inspiring people by working. So there are a lot of people that ought to be working and they say they want to work, but they really don't. They want to do what they want to do. You know, if they have that opportunity, they'll do it. But sometimes dream jobs never, never come along. Unless you opened up the door for some things that maybe you don't really want to do, but you can get good at. And it seems to blaze a trail for the future for, for good things to happen. You know, there's a reward.

John:
I think you're right. I think Envision Dallas is a good place to get started on a lot of those things too,

Blake Lindsay:
It really is. You learn work ethic there. We've got camaraderie. Like I've never seen a lot of the people lose their sight later in life. They think the world is ending for me as far as any fun thing or any fulfilling thing that they're going to be able to do. And so they come and they tour and that's when the light comes on. And then they say, Hey, you know, maybe I can do this. And so they, some people will either learn how to use computer they'll work with Al or somebody like that. And they'll get inspired to learn how to use computer and technology and maybe go customer service or in sales, or maybe somebody will say, you know what? I wouldn't mind doing sewing. I'd like to learn how to be a, or I'd like to learn how to make eyeglass cases. That's been one of our legacy prod products for a long time. And so they learn how to do a job and then they get into it. And before, you know, it, 20 years have gone by and here, they still are only. Now they're one of the mentors at first, they needed the mentors. So they needed the people to surround them who were blind and visually impaired to kind of show them the ropes. But now they're the, they're the leaders. And so that's interesting. I got a buddy named Oliver Smith who was a truck driver and he lost his sight at 52 years old. So he was a later, a late bloomer. I tell him to blindness, he's totally blind. And this dude really inspires me to know when, and he's, he's he's almost 80 years old now and he doesn't want to retire yet. And he doesn't need to cause he's still earning his keep, he's pulling his weight. And he was employee of the year here about a decade ago, but I met Oliver and I interviewed him and he's got quite a story to tell and he's, he still remembers being able to see the world through his truck windows and being able to drive down the highway all over the United States. And so he likes to refer to those times as well, but not in a SRE way, but in a very positive man. I'm glad I could see when I could, but I'm glad that I got a place to go to now as a person who's blind. And so he's about 20 years old with us already. I think he went through a Tran transition time at age 52, but before law. And then he was at former Dallas lighthouse and plugging away. So it's, it's fun to see people. I call it the transformation place in a lot of a lot of ways, because I've seen a lot of people who really feel sorry for themselves. And they deserve to for a minute either when you're losing your sight, you deserve to be able to you know, have some negative reflection until you learn otherwise. And it's fun to see people come around and then for them to eventually become the mentors and say, Hey, I went through this and you're going to like it once you get on the other side. And so they become the excited mentors. So I've seen a lot of that in 11 years. I've been there. It envisioned Dallas.

John:
There's no shortage of white canes walking around Envision Dallas. And it brings me to my next question about white cane day. That's something near and dear to your heart.

Blake Lindsay:
I've organized the past 10 of them in Dallas. And I, when I first heard about it, I got to tell you a funny story. This is just between you and me and your listeners. But Nancy Perkins was my president at that time. And she said, Blake, I want you to organize white cane day this year. And this is when I first got there in 2009. And I guess it was October, 2010. And she goes, you're familiar with white cane day. Right? And I said, yep, sure am and I was Googling it real quick. It was on my computer. I was thinking, what in the world is she talking about? What is White Cane Day? I never heard of it in my life. And so I had it right there and I had my earphones. So I was listening to it as she was talking to me. So I was reading about President Lyndon, B Johnson and the proclamation on October 15th of 1964. And so anyway, I was this educational mouthpiece about White Cane Day when I knew zip, you know, I didn't know anything prior, but I ended up organizing it that year. And we had a good event. There was a lot of providers, a lot of service providers helped me out in speaking about, you know, you remember last year when we had TWS out there, Texas Workforce Solutions for the blind, we had a mobility management came out and talked about upgrades that were coming. We have, you know, the American Foundation for the Blind. We have people from NFB and ACB, both of the, you know, those national Federation for the Blind, American Council of the Blind. But we have different kinds of speakers like you to, John who get out there and tell your story about what it was like to lose sight and how faith came into the picture. And now you're grilling and talked about the grilling show that you were on. And just so there's a lot of inspirational speakers mixed with a lot of the providers that really make some things happen for the blind community. And so it's really quite a celebration. We had over 200 people last year, but this year it's going to be an experience. And I'm excited about it, but I'm a little bit old school. I like live events. I like to be able to shake hands. I'd like to be able to see people that I don't get to see, but once a year, having a great time in celebration, it's a very celebratory day or celebrating independence. We're learning some new things. We're inspiring each other. We're walking around city hall, but this year it's all going to be done virtually. It is a whole new world. There's going to be some flaws here and there that I'm already hoping to overcome and to have a couple of practice runs so that we don't waste a lot of each other's time on that. And we can have a really good clean one hour program instead of two. So I'm going to get right to the proclamation this time, mayor Eric Johnson is going to join us. And then I've got my buddy, Mike Doocy from Fox4 is going to come by and be a part of it virtually. But you know, I'm going to have, have some speakers and some updates for the first 30 minutes. And then we're going to break off into three different platforms and people will pre-select those when they sign up and that way we can have it a very efficient, smooth transition, and people can either go to tech talk and that's with Jack Hickman and a partner, his discussing all the brand new stuff, coming out, things that people don't even know about yet, or that are on the way. And some of the most popular things that have been useful the last five years. So this would be something that you'd probably be interested in. I know I would be, that's probably where I'm going to end up. There's a lady talking about grooming and you heard her last year and she's very positive. And she teaches people who are blind and visually impaired how to put on makeup for female, but how to do all kinds of good, basic grooming to look their best and that's quality when it comes to job interviews, especially making that first impression, going out on that first date with somebody there's a variety of reasons to look our best and you know, be our best. And so she's popular. She does great work. She's going to have a platform. And then we're going to have Neva Fairchild talking about when the right time is to tell your future employer, before you meet him about your disability, when and how and why to tell them. And and I think that that's going to be solid for, for those high school students that are seeking you know, the world of business or even, even going to school and that kind of thing. But so we've got three things that I think will work well as far as good discussions that people will get a lot out of.

John:
Well, it's a great day. It's a great event and you always do a tremendous job putting it together. So I thank you for that.

Blake Lindsay:
Well, I enjoy doing it. Thanks, John. I appreciate that recognition. And I love getting people together and I think it's a very worthwhile program that, that gets people in school excited about your future. And it's, it's just, it's a celebration. So we'll see how it goes this year. I know it'll be great. We're going to do our best.

John:
Well, thanks a bunch for joining us, Blake.

Blake Lindsay:
You're welcome John and good success with your podcast, and I'm glad you're out there inspiring people and all of your subjects. And I'm eager to listen to several of them this weekend and catch up.

John:
We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks, Blake!

Blake Lindsay:
Okay, John!

September 01, 2020

eSight 4: Next Generation Enhanced Vision Assistive Technology

The Chief Commercial Officer of eSight, Brian McCollum, joins me to discuss their latest release.  eSight 4 is a wearable device that enhances vision for the visually impaired and low vision communities.








Episode Transcription:

John:
Hey, Brian, thanks for joining us on the podcast today to talk about the eSight 4 device. Tell me a little bit about aSight as company when it started and really why it started. I'm sure somebody had a really good idea for this to help people with visual impairment.

Brian McCollum:
Absolutely. It's a pretty interesting story, but let me just say a little bit about eSight. So, eSight, is essentially a company that has developed a leading vision enhancing platform. And if you think about it, you know, the vision enhancing platform in the world, you know, we like to play in that kind of mixed reality versus that augmented reality. And since that means that we want to take what senses you have left, what vision you have left. And we've created a device that we can couple, some, augmented type stuff with what you have. And we've developed a product that basically helps folks dealing with with 20 or so odd conditions, be able to see better. The company is based in Toronto, Canada. We have a manufacturing location in Ottawa, so everything is kind of Canadian made. And we manage our US footprint out of a small office in Nashville, Tennessee.
The original idea for eSight was developed by a gentleman named Conrad Lewis. And he essentially had two sisters who were living with Stargardt's disease. And Stargardt's disease is essentially a central vision loss in a younger population. And he made a commitment to them one day that he was going to create something that they would be able to see and be able to do the things that they wanted to do. And so, he put all of his time and effort into creating a device. They came out with generation one and quickly followed with generation two. And then the company spent, I don't know, several years just kind of retuning and refining the concept and launched what was the previous version eSight 3 about three years ago. And most recently we just launched what we believe is our commercially our most viable commercially product eSight 4.

John:
And for somebody that's not familiar with what eSight is in general terms, what does the eSight 4 do and who is the target user?

Brian McCollum:
Sure. So eSight 4 is essentially a head mounted device that really provides a noninvasive way and a wearable solution that we can help people dealing with visual impairment. Whether that's say 20 over 60 all the way up to say 20 over 800 of people who are legally blind. And what, what the device does is it uses a camera and the front of the, of the device. And it runs an image through a set of software algorithms and projects, images onto two screens inside the headset. And what it really does is, is it takes the light and puts light and more stimulus into what's left of the users photo receptors, et cetera, and allows them to fill in any, any blurry spots, any black holes, any gap they may have in their vision by essentially tricking the brain that there's more information coming into it.

John:
And what are the key or the best or improved features from the eSight 4 device from its predecessor?

Brian McCollum:
So, if you think about the evolution of the eSight product the, the concept of, can you use a camera run off and then run a software system with algorithms and project something into screens that actually improve vision of low vision individuals was what was founded and the original product kind of proved that I would say eSight three, took it a step further and say, Hey, can you actually now create a device that some people will actually wear and be able to use? We had that product in the market for about three years and did a, an enormous amount of user evaluation testing, a lot of feedback from, I mean, you know, we have a home demo experience program, so where we're sending a lot of these units out, we're getting any enormous amount of feedback of what people like and what they don't like.
And so the key, the key design changes for eSight 4 are really around three kind of main topics. One is mobility. The second one is around comfort and the third one is around ease of use. And I'm happy to dive into each one of those. But if you think about eSight 3 it was a, it looked more like a glass as it kind of hung on the head with a strap and it had a remote that was tethered by a wire that was essentially the battery. So you were not completely wireless if you will. And that battery within that remote needed to be charged every couple of hours or three hours or so. And what we did with eSight 4 is we made it 100% wireless. It is got interchangeable batteries that charge, and they can be charged outside of the device.
They are hot swappable. So if you have one and your battery is running low at about two and a half, three hours, basically pop it out and pop another one in and you can kind of not ever have that downtime of recharging. The second item was more about comfort. And if you think about how we designed the eSight 4 there's a halo that sits on top of the head. And as you can imagine, when we made it 100% wireless we had to put the battery in the headset. So obviously that added weight to, but the way it's distributed with the battery in the back and the way the halo sets right on the head, the feedback has been tremendous that the device is way more comfortable. We even have coaches internally who help people navigate the device who wear this device for up to eight hours a day.
And they've told us it's definitely more comfortable. And then the third one was, you know, these are complex devices and they probably do a hundred things that someone's never really going to dive into or learn or want to need to learn or to dive into. We needed to make it more simple. We needed to make the user interfaces. We need to make it more intuitive because you're dealing with a range group that can go from our youngest patients four all the way up to 104. We needed something that was easy to use. And, this product hits the mark. We are able to put this product into what we call live view mode. When you flip it on, within about 45 seconds, the screen is up, you set the pupil distances on the screens inside the headset. And someone knows within a matter of two or three minutes, if this device actually is going to help them see, and those three things are really what sets eSight 4 apart.

John:
You mentioned some feedback, user feedback. It looks like on your website, which is esighteyewear.com. There are some testimonials as well as some feedback and frequently asked questions. But something that I want to know is what are the most common tasks that you're hearing from users that are just makes life easier while using the eSight 4 device?

Brian McCollum:
Yes. So it really depends on what they want to do, right? You know, tasks that are a student has different tasks that they want to perform versus say, a retired person who maybe wants to use it to watch TV, etc. Where we see the people who value the device the most is where those people want to be mobile. They want to be on the go. Our device has a feature called bioptic tilt. And what it allows you to do is essentially keep your peripheral vision if you have it which is what allows you to stand and balance and move around. It allows you to, to keep that, and then you can put the device over your eyes. You can pull the visor down over your eyes if you need it, or if you don't need it. And you're in a situation you just want to flip the visor up.
To me that allows this group, whether it's a student going from class to class, or whether it's a working professional sitting in a meeting who needs to look at a projector or look at a presentation, but at the same time wants to have eye contact with people sitting around the table because we've heard that that's an important concept. So it really depends on what they're trying to get out of it. I would definitely say though, mobility the all day battery life that we, you know, because we can have two or three batteries that could essentially get someone through an all day shift. If you think about someone working an eight hour shift in a factory or something they now have the ability in a device that they don't have to worry about running out of power or having to go to an outlet that charges somewhere, as long as they've got enough batteries, they're able to just pop in and out.
And, and then if you think about that, you know, we all think, Oh, well, there's, there's this population that they want to use it to watch TV. And there are right. There are a lot of people who want to use it to watch TV. They want to use it to play gaming systems, etc. But a lot of those people also want to have the mobility. They don't just want to be confined to sitting in front of their TV if they don't have to. And so, yeah, while they'll use it to do some of those things we find that the people who want to try to somewhat remain mobile is really where it appeals to.

John:
I imagine there's a pretty strong and core group of engineers or programmers that work on this device, is that all done in Canada?

Brian McCollum:
It is. So if you think about eSight and our product, and if you think about other wearables in the space we've taken the approach that we want to develop our own hardware, as well as our own software platform. And so those two things take two different skill sets, right? You've got engineers, you can't just have software engineers or electrical engineers. You've got to have mechanical engineers. And so we've got a team of both we've got one team working on the hardware component. So whereas some of our competitors may go out and say, well, let's just go buy a device from a manufacturer. Those manufacturers have those mechanical engineers, but their product is limited on what software can actually be put on that device. It's also limited to what features and how we change the mechanical side of our device. Like, does it do this?  Does it do that? Does it flip up? Does it flip down? How do you adjust it? And so we believe we have built a core competency in both the hardware and the software side. And so for us, we believe it gives us a great platform to be able to not only develop products for the low vision space, but to develop products that where near eye optics come into play. And that could be a surgeon using it in a surgical setting or in any, any situation to where you need to have something that's close up from a near eye perspective. You need an auto-focus, you need zoom capability, maybe you need a light source. So, so we, we definitely believe we've created a group that can take this product and do other things with it also while continuing to improve it for that low vision individual,

John:
With the integrated approach that you guys take for developing the product and coupled with the wireless abilities in the eSight 4 device, are there updates or firmware changes that we could see down the road that would improve the site for device beyond?

Brian McCollum:
Yes, and that's, that's the beauty of this device and the way it was created it, every software update, you know, patch that's required, feature improvement that we believe is beneficial to the population is all going to get pushed over a WiFi connection. So these devices connect to the WiFi. They're going to kind of run out of, they're never going to be outdated. If that makes sense. You know, when people, when people take and they say, Hey, this device works for me and they make a decision to spend the money to, to have this device for themselves. We don't think that that should run out right. We don't think that they should be two or three years from now having to buy the latest and greatest product. Now, if it's, if we create a product like we did with eSight for that is so different and so much better, several of them are going to want to upgrade from a hardware perspective, but we don't believe they should initially have to upgrade from a software perspective.

John:
Alright, let's talk about availability and pricing, now. If somebody is interested in getting their hands on one of these, what's the best way to do that?

Brian McCollum:
Well, the best way to do it is to, is to go to our website esighteyewear.com. And we have a program to where we will send this unit out to them. We'll actually go through a screening. So let me rewind a second. We'll go through a screening process. We'll talk about their condition. We'll talk about, you know, their field of view. We'll talk about different things that are specific to them. And if they pass that screening process, because this product doesn't work for everyone. And we, you know, we have certain conditions that we work better with. And there are certain conditions that it's, you know, it's a 50 50 proposition. It really depends on, on their unique situation, light getting into their eyes, et cetera. And so we'll go through a screening process if they pass the screening process there's a home demonstration program that we have, they can for $99, they can, they can get the device into their home.
They can use it in their setting for seven days. And then depending on that, they can make a decision where to purchase it. We also have a growing network of distributors and representatives around the country. And so in some States we've taken the approach that, Hey, we want to have that hands on experience. We want them, we want someone to be able to walk into their home or walk into a clinic setting and show them device and really, and really take them through it to see if it's the right choice for them. So I would say reach out to us via our website and we'll get them into the right contact with the right person, if they choose to this really works for them. I love it. I want to buy it. That's great. You know, we're, we're, we're proud in the sense that we're able to offer this device with as many improved features and the feedback that we're getting, it's the same price as the previous version.
And so that's, it's $5,950. But we really have a lot of programs. We have an, empower program to where we have two people on staff who help people fundraise. It's 100% of the proceeds go directly to the purchase of the device. So there's no kind of administration fee. And we are also making some very good headway with some insurance companies. And so we've actually signed three contracts with some repricing networks that cover lives throughout the United States. And we believe if you look at eSight 4 it, we believe it's a true medical device and that, yes, it's improving quality of life, but it's also preventing future health issues that could occur in this population. And so we're beginning to get an audience with those folks. And so if we can get insurance companies to recognize the value, we have an enormous push now to really reach out and educate the clinician population, the professional population, and the sense that we want, the ophthalmologist and optometrist to know, Hey, this device, yes, it's been out, but this is our new device. And these are the things it does, and it can help your patients. We, we think getting those people to understand what the product does and what it is will help us make it more accessible to these folks.

John:
So it sounds like through the assessment program and the trial period, as you said, this device is not for everyone it sounds like you're going to weed out all the ones that it doesn't fit for. And by that, by the time you make it through that process you're pretty much locked and loaded and know this device will, will make life easier for you.

Brian McCollum:
That's correct. So if, if they get it, they, you know, it's, there's some value to, there's some value as just having people try this in their home and their setting that they want to do, right. Whether it's the, watch their TV or read to their kids, or go out and walk in their yard, as opposed to doing it in say an optometrist office, right? It's a, it's a sterile environment in the sense that everything's kind of bright and, you know, it's, it's one thing to have it work in your, your own personal setting. And so look, it's, we, we think like there are other wearables on the market. And if, and I would say, you really don't know, and I, and I hear this from people who try them and influencers and different things is there's them, there's a device out there that will probably work for you.
We've tried to create a device that if our device is what works for you, we want you to love the device. Like we want you to love the features of it. We want you to love that you can just throw a battery in and throw a couple in your bag and know you're not going to run out. We want you to know that you're able to walk around with it on. And so it's up to us to develop a product that we, that we want to make you love. And then, and then it comes down to sometimes to, Hey, you know, can I afford it? And do I see the benefits? And do they, the benefits outweigh the costs. And I would just say from, from our perspective we want to get products that work in the hands of people that can be helped. And if our product does that, that's great. If someone else product does that, we want them to have that product because that's the last thing we want to do is for someone to say, I love the product. It doesn't really work, but I wanted anyway, that doesn't do anyone any good to be quite honest.

John:
Yeah. It sounds like the eSight 4 device is pretty exciting, Brian. Thanks for your time again. Is there anything we've missed?

Brian McCollum:
No, I don't think so. I, John, I appreciate the opportunity to just talk about eSight 4 and eSight a little bit. And you know, it's at a very exciting time to be honest. I'm I've only been at the company right at six months. We've got almost a completely new team. And we, we believe we've got something that is truly game changing and not only is it game changing from the perspective of, yes, there's a lot of feel, good stories that come from this type of stuff, but we believe we now have a, a business case or an economic case that we can make to whether that's companies looking to use this as technology they deploy in their workplace students. I mean, there's a lot happening today. You're reading a lot about people having to take classes from their dorm room. Well, there's a population that gets left behind or potentially left behind in those situations. And so we, we, we want to start making the case for this device is something people should consider because it makes business financial sense, not just because it's a feel good story. And I think if we can make that change I think we'll do a lot of we'll add a lot of value to, to this population we're trying to serve.

John:
Okay. And once again, the website esighteyewear.com, do you know, is there a phone number that corresponds to that for somebody that just wants to dial?

Brian McCollum:
Yes. You can find us at esighteyewear.com or you can call 1-855-837-4448 again, 1-855-837-4448.

John:
Once again. Thanks a bunch, Brian!