November 10, 2020

The Blind Life

 Sam Seavey, host of The Blind Life channel on YouTube, stops by to discuss Stargardt macular degeneration, iOS versus Android, Mac versus Windows, a personal hygiene tip and Simon & Garfunkel. 







Episode Transcript: 

John:
This is exciting. I've been looking forward to talking with you but to set the table a little bit, can you tell me about your vision and you know, your acuity and what you can and can't see, and just any details you want to share about that so we can understand where you're coming from.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah, yeah. So I have Stargardt's disease. It's I guess categorize as basically as, as a juvenile form of macular degeneration. And so I was diagnosed at age 11, started, started losing my sight then and it's been a slow progression, thankfully knock on wood. It's been pretty slow. My current acuity is well, I should say the last time I had a checked was about a year or two ago. It was 20/400 in my left eye, 20/800 in my right eye. And if anybody's familiar with macular degeneration, we, we lose our central vision. So we have large blind spots. And so we still have utilize our peripheral peripheral stays pretty decent. You know, as, as, as good as peripheral can be for seeing everything. And then I, you know, we have a little bit of night blindness difficulty in low light situations. Our colors tend to fade, so we have trouble with that, which is, you know, great makes, makes editing a lot of fun editing my videos. And but yeah, so I've been living with Stargardt's for well over 30 years now.

John:
And is that on the same trajectory? Has there been any change to it or is it still been the same?

Sam Seavey:
It's it still seems pretty gradual. Yeah. I'm very lucky. I've I've got a friend who she has Stargardt's as well, and she has these big drops in vision and they always kind of coincide with her having her kids. She has three kids and she had these big changes around the same time, which confirms that children just ruin everything. And I'm kidding, of course, but both fathers here. No, but so yeah, like I said, I'm pretty lucky. I think it's hard to tell. Of course, you know, it's, it's one of those things where you just, all of a sudden, you think, huh? You know, I remember five years ago, I could see this and now I'm, I really can't. But you don't notice it as it's going on really. At least with the slow progression that I'm experiencing.

John:
The one that you have that's 20/400 is pretty similar to me. I'm about 20/300 in one eye. I have zero vision in the other. So we're about the same that eye there. Yeah. What's the most common misconception you get when you tell somebody that you're blind or I guess you would consider yourself visually impaired or what do you consider yourself?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah, I don't, I don't have any problems. You know, some people get hung up on titles and stuff. I don't. I say blind all the time. It's just easier. I'm blind. Maybe I'm lazy. I don't want to, I don't want to do that many syllables, visually impaired. I just say I'm blind. I figure if, if the government considers me legally blind and then I'm fine with calling myself blind too. But I kinda it's, it's interchangeable visually impaired, legally blind sight impaired, partially sighted. I do it all really. But I think, you know, you're saying what, what's the biggest misconception people have they, well, I, I think, and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this is the, the average public doesn't realize that it's a spectrum vision impairments, a spectrum. They think it's it's, they think it's in shades of black and white it's you could either see, or you can't see, or if you can't see a little bit, then it's okay, just get some glasses and everything's going to be fine. You know, they don't, they tend to not realize that there are some impairments out there that glasses can't help, you know, and I've kind of the sarcastic, sarcastic side of me comes out sometimes and it's like, Oh, I'll get glasses. That's a great idea. I wish I had thought of that.

John:
Yeah. I can relate to that. I consider myself ambiguously blind because if I tell you that I'm blind, as you said, just for sometimes simplicity, and then you see me riding a bike or you see me doing something that would, you know, contradict that. It's a, it's my vision. I find difficult to describe, which is why I'm doing this, this podcast thing, just to talk to people about their experiences, how they represent themselves and just that kind of stuff to where it makes more sense to me and maybe some others as well. What about mobility? I've seen some videos that you've done with canes, the white canes and your vision spectrum that you've been in. Has it always been canes or have you used other items or

Sam Seavey:
No? I, the cane really for me is, well, as I mentioned, I don't do well in low light situations. So a cane is very important for that. You know, if, if, if it's dark and I'm in unfamiliar areas, I don't have good depth perception. And so I can't judge the depth of a curve or a step. So I use the cane for that, but 99% of the time, it's just for identification. And this is what I talk about on my channel when I, when I'm promoting using the cane and, and, you know, people get in your canes and get out there and try new things. It's like the cane answers all the questions, you know, if I go into a store and I say, you know or for example, the restaurant, I go into a fast food place and I can't see the menu board on the wall behind the, the cashier. Um so when I walk up there and as you said, I, you know, all intents and purposes, I look perfectly sighted because I'm not running into things. I'm not using a cane to, you know, I'm not tapping it back and forth and all that. But so when I go in there and I say, you know, yeah, I'm sorry, you know, what are your specials or what are your combos or whatever. And I've actually had people literally turn around and look at the board and like it's right there. And so I, then I have to go into the whole explanation. It was like, Oh, yes, I know. I, I, you know, I, I know I don't look visually impaired, but I am, I can't read it, blah, blah, blah. And then you get people saying, well, why didn't you bring your glasses? And so, you know, just to solve all those problems, I had the cane, they take a look at the cane and, Oh, well, we have a, you know, a burger and fries is number one. You know, and it's like, ah, refreshing. I don't have to go through all that rigmarole you know, it's, it just takes care of all of that.

John:
Kind of like a universal symbol.

Sam Seavey:
It is, it is. I mean, and part of that, that's the good and the bad, because, you know, there is still a negative stereotype for the cane out there. It's a lot better than it was, and it's getting better all the time, but there still is. And some people, you know, still, still feel that and they're hesitant to use it. And so that's part of my, the goal of my channel is to, to help people be, be you know, embrace it and, and, and look at the positives and the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and grab your cane and get out of the door and do something.

John:
As it pertains to the condition of your eye, the Stargardt's disease. Is there any research or any kind of medical stuff that's going on that, you know, or think could possibly restore any of your vision?

Sam Seavey:
There, there are, there's a lot of clinical trials and, you know experimental medicine and all these things very similar to RP. So, you know, there's a lot of, a lot of hype around RP and especially I think sparks therapeutic, I believe is the name that kind of came out with their treatment last year or year before Stargardt's is, is related. So there is, I, I'm not fully up to date on it. I do know that it's, most of it is just to prevent more loss of vision. And then there are some that say, well, you might get some of your vision back and it was slight improvement. I don't believe, and I could be completely wrong, but I don't believe any of them are saying, we're going to cure it. It's going to be, you're going to be back to 20/20. I don't think that's possible, but for younger people, younger generation, and that it may be just recently diagnosed. There are treatments that will prevent them from getting as bad as I am now, but at the same time, I don't really keep up with it because I, you know, and this has been controversial on my channel, that I'm more in the camp of, I don't, I don't want to chase the cure. You know, there's some people that they spend all their times reading the blogs and the forums and, and what's going on today. What's, what's the news, you know, and I would just rather spend my life enjoying the vision I have and enjoying my family and, and, you know, getting out and cutting my grass and, you know, just the everyday life, I would rather, you know, live, learn how to live with my vision impairment and enjoy my life rather than spend all my days waiting for the cure.

John:
Yeah. I feel like we're on the same page there too. I don't want to chase. I feel like something likely will, will happen for a lot of people with the way technology and medicine is improving over time. I'm hopeful that that will be within my lifetime, but I don't have enough time to devote to that type of stuff without trying to live and, and be just successful at being who I am. And there's also a lot of, there's a lot of downsides to those trials and things too. And it's, it's when, when it's when it's patented and it's it's guaranteed to work and all that stuff, I'm, I'm definitely in, but in the meantime, I think I'm very well the way I am.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Yeah. And there's some crazy stuff going on. You know, bionic eyes and contacts with augmented reality displays in them. I mean, there's some really cool stuff not necessarily medical, but technological that, you know, could be, could help us in, in the future. Yeah.

John:
And that's the kind of stuff that you talk about a lot on your YouTube channel, which I don't know if we've mentioned yet is called The Blind Life. A question that I've been trying to kind of answer for myself from watching some of your videos is I can't tell if you're an Android or an iOS guy. So which is it?

Sam Seavey:
So here's, here's where I, I completely alienated half your audience. Let's go for it. Yeah. Cat's out of the bag Pandora's box has been opened. No, I've actually made tons of videos about this on my channel already iOS versus Android for the visually impaired community. What's better. I am, I am both actually, so I, but I'm, but I'm more on the Android side. I've always been an Android lover. Got my first Samsung galaxy. I think I had the galaxy four was my first phone forever ago. My first smartphone and that's no, that's no secret on my channel. I've got a ton of Android videos and things, but I, we were talking a little bit before the show that and I was telling you how I used to be an AT trainer. And so being a trainer, you know, being a good trainer, you, you need to be proficient on all the different operating systems so that you can properly train your clients. Um you know, you never know who's going to walk in that day, if they're going to want to learn how they use the Android, or if they're going to want to learn how to use the iPad. So, you know, you need to know how to use those. So I, I know how to use them both how to use both operating systems. And then in November of last year, I went ahead and bought my first iPhone. And so I use an iPhone for my work or for my daily driver. And I use an Android phone for my work phone. But I tend to still, I use my Android more because mainly, maybe because I'm familiar, it's familiar. But there's still so many things on iOS that just frustrate me to no end. I'm like, why, why, why can I not install a ringtone super easily and just download a ringtone and install it? And why do I have to jump through all these hoops to do this? You know, it just doesn't make sense to me, but but I, I won't, I won't go off on too much of a tangent cause I know you're an Apple guy.

John:
Well, I am an Apple guy and I think, I think Apple was first to the game for the visually impaired. For me was in 2009 with the 3g S that was the first model that came loaded with voiceover. And I've really had no reason to go otherwise or go anywhere else. And I think a lot of that is that I'm so comfortable with it. It does appear to be so easy to me and I don't have a big ringtone issue, like what you're talking about. So I'm probably not as, maybe as hardcore you know, Apple doesn't really let you hack their devices too much. So it's, you gotta pretty much use what they got, but for somebody that likes to tinker or change a lot of things, maybe maybe Android is a better thing. What's it called an Android? Is it called Talk Back?

Sam Seavey:
Talk Back, yeah. Androids screen readers is called Talk Back. Samsung for some reason has their own version of a screen reader. It's called Voice Assistant.

John:
Do you have a Samsung phone or device? Which one do you use?

Sam Seavey:
I kind of flip flop. I use talk back mostly if I'm doing something and talk back is giving me trouble. I'll, I'll jump over to voice assistant, but generally if one isn't going to read it, neither of them are going to read it. So let me, let me, let me clarify. Just so nobody out there completely hates me. I'll be, I'll give my, my reasoning for and what I, when people ask what's the better operating system for visually impaired. What I always tell them is that it depends. There's a lot of different factors. I'm not a one or the other kind of person about anything. And I think that comes from doing so many tech reviews on my channel. I have to, I have to look at the thing objectively and logically and weigh the pros and cons of everything. So when I, when I recommend a device, it there's a lot of different factors that need to go into it. Budget is number is maybe not number one, but as is definitely a huge one. A lot of people think, well, what should I get? And it's like, well, what can you afford? You know, if you can't afford a $1,500 iPhone 11, then it doesn't matter. You know, it doesn't matter how good it is. So budget is definitely, but my philosophy is if you, if your vision is to a certain point like for me, I'm still relying a lot on magnification and only a little bit on screen reading. So because of that, I lean towards Android because Android, as you said, is very customizable. I can make the icons really big. I can make the font way bigger than and it's also global which is something that drives me crazy about iPhone. But I can also have this giant clock on my home screen. I can do, I can just customize it to so that I can see it better a lot more. I also think Android has a better screen magnifier. It's just seems to be more intuitive. It's pinch to zoom all of this, but anyway, so, but if your vision is to a certain point where you're relying more on screen reading, I recommend iOS because iOS still, even though Android is getting close, iOS is still has a better screen reader. Voiceover just works better. It's it's the best in the game. And, and it's less frustrating. I'll say that.

John:
Well, that's reassuring to me. I, I rely mostly on voiceover on the, on the, on the handheld devices, the iPhone, the iPad and stuff, but on a, on a computer, I use magnification way more than I do a voice voiceover, just because the screen is so much bigger. And I feel like, I don't know. I feel, I think what you just said is what I also think is that, or what I have found is that voiceover really is, even though it has its quirks and things, and there was just an update a couple of days ago, and it messed a couple of things up that, that I didn't want to mess up. So you gotta fight through that type of stuff, but by and large I think voiceover is phenomenal.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Well, and with this iOS 14 update, they've upgraded or it got a pretty, pretty substantial upgrade voiceover. In fact, my video coming out Saturday is talking about all the new accessibility updates in iOS 14. And I talk about voiceover and it's voiceover recognition.

John:
Okay. So it seems to me like I've probably made a good choice for somebody that relies mostly on voiceover with Apple, but I really do want to try an Android device. I just, I guess I just need to get one and play with it. I have no reason to have two phones though with two phone numbers or anything, or two phone services. So I guess I need to get a tablet. What would be the tablet or I guess, smartphone you would recommend?

Sam Seavey:
I I really liked Samsung. I've always liked Samsung just because it has extra accessibility on top of Androids. stock Android's accessibility options for vision aren't that great. I mean, talk back aside and, and magnifier side, the, the, the font large text, isn't that large on stock Android. You've got the basics like color and version and things like that, but I mean, that's really about it. But Samsung adds in a bunch of other really helpful accessibility features and, and like their large text is way bigger than stock Android's largest size. So I've always liked Samsung. I've tried a lot of them. I tried all of them really as far as what to get you, you really want to get something modern though. That's kind of the thing is, is if you get an older device, it's kind of a catch 22, it's, you know, if you want to save money, you get an older device, but an older device, isn't going to have the newest and latest accessibility. It might have it on there, but it may not have the processing power to support it. And then your, your experience is going to be frustrating because it's slow and sluggish and things like that. So but Samsung has got some good tablets out right now and actually tell you the truth that Kindle can the fire tablets, Amazon fire tablet. I was really impressed. I did a review of that. And I was impressed with the screen reader. They call it a voice view and I think it had one of the most pleasing voices out of any screen reader I've I've ever tried. Yeah. And it was responsive and everything. So

John:
The Amazon Fire tablet?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. And you can get them for like $70. They're dirt cheap. I mean, you know, or you pay more for the larger size, but they're not bad at all.

John:
Interesting. Okay. Well, let's either widen the gap or bring some people back by going through the Windows versus Mac discussion.

Sam Seavey:
Oh yeah.

John:
So I use Windows, I think you do too.

Sam Seavey:
Oh, well that surprises me. I was going to, I was pegged you for a Mac guy.

John:
Now see. Don't judge a book, Sam.

Sam Seavey:
Well, how do you change? How do you transfer stuff from your iPhone to your Window? I guess you use iTunes.

John:
Yeah. iTunes. And I'm a huge music fan and collector, which is something I want to talk to you about a little bit later too, but I have a massive iTunes library and just through iTunes, which I think they're trying to kill while on the, on the Windows side. But yeah, it's pretty simple.

Sam Seavey:
Unless you're coming from Android and then I could, I was just having it was so frustrating trying to figure it out that I eventually just bought like a $30 app that made it so much easier to transfer pictures and video from my phone to my computer. Yeah.

John:
Pictures are difficult. I will, I will tell you that I don't like that music and stuff is very easy. And if you, if you want to transfer photos, Apple makes it pretty easy. Also, you can just synchronize folders on a, on a PC through iTunes, but it doesn't give you the full access to the file. It's a, it's a totally, that's a rabbit hole I could go down. So it doesn't really make it, it doesn't, it's, it's difficult to describe, but you can get them on there. But I, with photos, I agree. It could be much easier.

Sam Seavey:
Okay. Well, I just bit the bullet and got this, this app Simple Transfer. It works perfectly, and it's so easy. And you know, for my videos, I do a lot of screen captures on my phone and like my, my next video coming out I recorded the whole thing on the phone and then had to, you know, so just to be able to easily transfer it, it's like, you know what, it's, it's worth it. It's worth 30 bucks to not have to deal with with trying to figure it out. Yeah. Yeah. Simple transfer you, you download it on your PC and downloaded the app and they talk to each other and, and transfer it right away. And it works great.

John:
Yeah. That's probably a lot easier than, than going through the iTunes route. Okay. So Windows, you use Windows, exclusively?.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. and just because I think, well, a lot of this, you know, I think it all stems from what you started on, you know, if you started on a Mac, then you're going to be a Mac person and an Apple person. I've always been on Windows and the, with the last couple of updates to the accessibility it's really, really strong in accessibility right now. As far as magnifier and Narrator is Narrator used to be the joke in the screen reading world, you know, Windows Narrator, really. But they've improved it a lot and it's actually a capable screen reader now.

John:
How recent are those updates with the Narrator? Like within the last six months? 12 months? Two years?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. They're yeah. They're, you know, they're doing their spring and fall updates. And so it's, it's with it. They've slowly been picking away at it with over the last two years, probably.

John:
Okay. So I use a program called ZoomText. Are you familiar with that? So I've used that for 22 years, always as an overlay on the Windows. And I don't like it. Yeah. There's a lot of things about it that are frustrating, but at the same time, I don't really want to getting to the point where I don't want to really learn something. There's a lot of errors that occur. They're getting better. I mean, I, I shouldn't say I hate it, but it, it, it leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe is a better way to say it. And I feel like I've seen you do a lot of stuff with Narrator and not to mention that the, the license for, for ZoomText is close to 500 bucks a year, if you want to buy the newest updates. And that's, what's so great about iOS with voiceover and the magnifier built in it's there, it's just there. And I feel like Microsoft has made a lot of changes to the accessibility things that are built in, but I just need to make the jump, I think, have you ever used anything from ZoomText or any other magnifiers?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah, I was a ZoomText user for many, many years. Zoomtext fusion was the last one I used. And, and mainly because I stopped because there was an update and I had just bought the program and then an update came out and that's when they, they switched over from using what was it called? Magic eyes? No, what was, I forget what their screen reader was called prior, and then they switched over to using Jaws and they wanted me to pay another $300 just for the update. Like I just spent all this money on this. So I, I, I was also a a Windows magnifier user from back from Windows seven. And this was actually, I was using it at work ZoomText at work, being a trainer. So I just, you know, I'm not just gonna be full-time Windows, magnifier user, and they've improved that a ton. They've got speech in included into Windows magnifier now. So I can be magnified if there's a section of text, I need to read, I want read out to media, I can just click a button and it will read it line by line or read the whole section or you know, they've got the edge shading or edge smoothing on the Windows magnifier. Now they've included different colored cursors. You can customize the size of the cursor. They've really done a ton of stuff.

John:
Is it easy to toggle the magnification on and off?

Sam Seavey:
Oh yeah. Yeah. Cause you can, you can do the keyboard shortcut. And I should mention that I've got videos on this stuff. Everything I talk about, I've made a, how to video on it. So if anybody wants to know, you can search my channel, but the hold down, the Windows key and the plus and the minus. If you have a keyboard with a, with a number pad it's super easy and you get really, really good at just doing it by feel, but what I've done is I have mapped those keys to the thumb buttons on my mouse. So I don't have to take my hand off the mouse. Now that was the biggest drawback. You know, I'd have to slow down your predict productivity. If you have to take your hand off the mouse to zoom in and zoom out on a keyboard. So now I don't do that. I just click, click, click, click, click, click, zoom outs. It's really, really cool.

John:
Yeah. I need to try that. And Narrator and magnifier, the thing that frustrates me with ZoomText, they've, they've come a long way, but a few years ago they changed the, the, you know, I use a lot of the keyboard shortcuts and they changed the, the main key for shortcuts is the caps lock key. And that's fine when ZoomText is on, because it doesn't register the caps lock Windows, doesn't see it until it's off until ZoomText is off kind of thing. So basically I get caught in this loop where my caps lock is on half the time. And I don't know, and I'm constantly, and you got to hit the caps lock key twice to turn it off and to turn to turn caps lock off. And it, it is a whip, it's a whip. I fight through it every day. And that, that will be the reason I leave ZoomText that right there.

Sam Seavey:
Well, and ZoomText is a very heavy program, very graphically heavy. So if you, I would not be able to use it, you know, with my editing software and my I use DaVinci resolve is my editor and I use Adobe after effects for my motion graphics. I wouldn't be able to use, and sometimes I have these things all open at the same time and if ZoomText was running. Oh, my, it would be like, just like trying to wade through molasses.

John:
Okay. So other than the smartphone, what is the best piece of technology you've reviewed or that you use on a daily basis?

Sam Seavey:
Other than the smartphone? Because that's usually my default answer.

John:
Yeah. That's mine as well.

Sam Seavey:
Could I, can I say the computer now? That's, that's kind of a cop out that I've reviewed. Well, see, I tend not to try and like play favorites. I have there's certain devices. So the, the wearable devices tend to be really hot right now in, in the world of AT. And they're great. And the VR style using the Samsung gear VR and Samsung phone tend to be the best that works for me. So I've, I've tried all of them. And that style, that combination of, of hardware tends to work the best for me. And there are several out there on the market that are using it. So I guess, I guess I'd say that in fact, I just talked to a little boy. I'm pretty excited. Talked to a little boy named Owen who's lives down Florida. And he has, Stargardt's just like I do. And he has his own YouTube channel. Give him a shout out outdoors with Owen. He has a fishing channel and he's, he's amazing really he's I think he's in sixth grade. So pretty young. I think he just started sixth grade and he is amazing. His knowledge about fishing is incredible, but he's, he's struggling. He's, he's a young guy and he's visually impaired. And you know, you probably, I don't know. What age were you when you were started losing your sight or?

John:
I was 19. I lost mine basically overnight. Okay. I didn't have any warning on mine.

Sam Seavey:
Okay. Well still, still young, 19, still young. So I'm sure you understand. You can, can relate, you know what it's like. Absolutely. Yeah. So he, he's going through a hard time. So I'm trying to help him. I did a zoom call with him and his mom last night and stuff, but I have an Irish vision which is one of the wearables I was just talking about and I have an extra one and I'm like, you know what, I'm going to send it to Owen because I think that's gonna be awesome for him. He'll be able to use it and be able to see out and see the birds and stuff out. And he lives right, right on the water down in Florida. And I think it's going to be great for him. So I'm excited about that.

John:
All right, let's go the other direction. What's the best piece of low-tech gear you have. And I should say, like, I've seen on the video, you've done the flashlight or you dropped something on the, on the ground and you just get down there with the flashlight and pan around for it. And it oftentimes will, will magically appear. Yeah. Yeah. That's genius.

Sam Seavey:
Well, and see, it's like, that's, that's the whole, the main focus of my channel is teaching people, these little tips and tricks that unless you're living in the visually impaired world, you maybe don't realize these things. And if you're new to the world, the, the world you know, no one's ever told you these things. So, so that's the goal of the channel is to, to share these little, little tidbits of knowledge, these little blind life hacks. But I'd say for me personally, it's my magnifier. I, I have a magnifier. I, I, I have the same style I've had for about 25 years now. It's an Eschenbach little pocket magnifier right now. I'm at the largest strength, the highest strength they do, which is 12 times, I believe it is. But it's, it's with me at all times. It's sitting in my pocket right now. If I go to sleep, it's on the nightstand. If I to take a shower, it's on the bathroom counter, it's always within reach. And if I leave the house, I actually have, I never leave the house because I have extras positioned, strategically positioned throughout my life. But if I, on the rare occasion that I do leave the house without one, I feel like I've left one of my legs at the at house. Because I rely on it so much. I mean, that's how I read my phone with it. Any kind of anything, I read anything with it, try to read anything with it. So that's probably it, my, my little magnifier, Maggie, Maggie. Yep.

John:
All right. Let's talk about the blind life channel. How long have you been doing that?

Sam Seavey:
So I started the channel in 2013, December of 2013. And at the time it was called the blind spot which was an homage to my vision impairment. And it was, I wanted, I wanted to create a channel that people could come and learn about real life living with vision impairment. So I, you know, I wanted it to be a literal blind spot on the internet. And I thought that was pretty clever. And when I came up with that name.

John:
That is clever. Yeah. But you probably ran into that. Had already been used maybe or some licensing issues or something.

Sam Seavey:
I got it. I got a nice letter from some lawyers one day. And this is probably about three years ago and some company up North that wasn't happy about I guess my popularity and in the, in the community and people contacting them, asking about me. And so, yeah, they, they sent me a nice letter and told me I had to change the name, which I was pretty bummed about at the time, because the blind spot was my baby. I've been, I've nurtured her and grown her for, for like four years at this time at this point. And so I was pretty upset about having to change the name, but in hindsight, it wasn't that big of a deal. And I think, you know, looking back, I think the name, the new name fits it fits the channel better anyway, fits, fits the theme of the channel.

John:
What's the coolest thing about creating on YouTube.

Sam Seavey:
It's definitely the community it's, it's interacting with. You know, I grew up, my sister's visually impaired too. She has the same eye condition I do. And so until I was in high school, I had never met anyone else who was visually impaired, let alone full on blind. And then I actually went to a summer program at a school for the blind. And that was the first time I was really around kids like me and other than my sister. And I ended up going there for my senior year and I graduated from that school. But even after that, you know, this was all pre-internet. So there was no way to jump on a Facebook forum or a group and meet other people like you. So since doing the channel, doing the YouTube channel, I have met just tons of just amazing people huge Stargardt's groups and community. I mean, I was on a phone call with a guy on a zoom call with a guy in Hong Kong this morning, and that's a direct result of the channel that, that never would have happened to me in my life, you know, without the channel. So I'm very, very thankful for that.

John:
What's the most popular topic or subject amongst your viewers.

Sam Seavey:
It's definitely the, the assisted technology. So I, my channel, generally, I cover just about anything having to do with blind life on my channel. You know, I mentioned I do tips and tricks videos and how to's and things like that. But my, the main focus over the last couple of years has been assistive technology and reviews and things like that. And so that's definitely as far as viewership and numbers, the, I get the highest numbers on those types of videos. So AT review videos and things like that, although every now and then there will be a video that I, when I made it, I just assumed it was going to be a throwaway video. It's like, you know, I need to, I need to make a video this week. I'll just do this video. Nobody's going to care about it. And it's just another video. And then I can focus on something more important next week. And then those videos end up just striking a cord for some reason, with the community and having a big reaction. Like I made a video once on how to brush your teeth, how do blind people brush their teeth? If you can't see the, the end of the toothpaste or the end of the toothbrush, how do you put the toothpaste on the end of the toothbrush?

John:
Yeah.

Sam Seavey:
And the video was conceived. Just be a conversation I was having with, with my boss at the time we were talking about this and I was telling her how I do it. And she's like, Oh yeah, that's how I do it too. And, you know, I thought, I wonder if everybody does that, I'm where I should probably make a video. And so the trick and John, do you, do you know the trick of how well, how do you do, how do you brush your teeth?

John:
I put the yeah, it is a strange question. I know we were going to get this personal Sam, sorry. I put the toothpaste directly in my mouth.

Sam Seavey:
Exactly. Right. You just scored it right in your mouth. And I thought, well, surely everybody does that in the blind community because it's one of those, those things that you just naturally organically figure out. But no, it's, I've had people, some just the most amazing response to that video. I've had people say, you saved my life with this video. You know, you saved my marriage. Wow. I know. It's just like, this is just some, some dumb little video I've made one day. So you never know, you never know what's gonna, what's going to click.

John:
Yeah. It's funny. You mentioned that because I that's what I do. And I just figured that out. And there were so many times where I was trying to get the toothpaste on the toothbrush and I was like, this is ridiculous. It's gotta be a better way. And I don't remember the Eureka moment where it happened, but I've been doing that for quite some time. Yeah.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Yeah. And the only drawback is you can't share toothpaste with anybody else. But that's not, that's not a big deal.

John:
Really a drawback, because I don't know that you should be sharing toothpaste with anybody anyway, you know, not in this day and age that's for sure. Okay. Well, there were really two things other than all the reviews and the Windows and the, the Android stuff that I was intrigued by you, there was really one video in particular. And then some of your merch that really drew me to you. I was like, man, I want to talk to this guy. So the video that drew me to you was the Sound of Silence video. I mentioned that I'm a huge fan of music and I like Simon & Garfunkel. Then I have that album actually Wednesday Morning, 3AM is where that song comes from. Share that story briefly with, with the audience.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. So I, the way this came about was just a viewer sent me an email and said, you know, I thought you might be interested in this article. I thought it was really cool. And you might want to share it with your, your audience. And oftentimes, you know, if, if, if I, I think it's a good, I, you know, good idea that will resonate, I will. And this was one of those times. But basically the article was from the Sandy, Sandy Sanford, I think was the gentleman's name, who is a college friend of Art Garfunkel's roommates. And they, I think shortly the way the story goes is shortly after they became roommates, Sandy started to lose his vision. And so the song is inspired, I guess, loosely inspired by this relationship between our Art Garfunkel and his, his roommate, Sandy, and how Art used to take care of them, basically help them out, walk them to class, all of this. And so art would refer to himself as the darkness. And he would say things like, you know, the darkness is here to read, read to you and things like that. And so that's where the iconic line, hello darkness my old friend apparently came from. Now, I've had some people in the comments, kind of argue it saying that Simon came up with it all by himself, but you know, this was the article. This was this, this gentleman's memoir. So you know, w who, who's the, who's the, no, it's a, it's still a nice story. I think though.

John:
It's really cool. And I've gone back and listened to that song many times since, since seeing that video, which we should note is no longer available. You know, and I got to tell you, Sam, you're not doing it right. If you're not getting copyright notices occasionally right on YouTube, you know, change your name. You gotta take some things down, but you're not, you're not doing things right. If you don't get, don't bump into a few of those situations over time. Right?

Sam Seavey:
I'm not a true YouTuber. If I don't get in trouble, I've been pretty good. I've, I've only gotten one once before. And yeah, so I got a copyright claim. It wasn't even a strike. It was a claim. And they gave me some options on what I could do. I could mute the music, which wasn't possible and some other things, but ultimately the video had been up for a week and had already been viewed well over a thousand times. And, you know my videos tend to kind of plateau after that. So I figured enough people had seen it. The easiest thing would just be to take it down. I was, I didn't have the video monetized anyway originally because, you know, I didn't want to, I, I did it didn't feel right to monetize something like that. So I just like, you know, and I'll just take it down and I am going to re upload it this time without the music playing in the background. And it wasn't even the actual song, like the official song. It was a cover that someone else on YouTube had done. So I thought I'd be okay. I thought I'd squeak under the radar there. But yeah,

John:
It was just an instrumental version, I think, too, wasn't it?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Yeah. It's beautiful. Beautiful. And I even gave credit in the description for the, the, the video Brooklyn Duo. They they've got some amazing music videos, so, but I guess there wasn't enough.

John:
Well, the other thing was, was I was scrolling through your channel. I saw your merch and I saw the shirt I can see, but I can't see. And I thought, man, that describes me so well, I think that's a genius T-Shirt how'd you come up with that?

Sam Seavey:
I didn't that wasn't my design or I, that wasn't my, I didn't come up with the saying, I saw it somewhere on Facebook. Someone said it a forever ago and it just kind of stuck with me and I thought, you know what? That would make a great shirt. And so, yeah, it's, it's definitely my most popular shirt and because it says I can see it, but I can't. And then underneath it says, hashtag it's complicated. And because it's so perfectly explains most of us living on the spectrum, you know especially when you walk into the store and the restaurant and you, you can't read the menu and they're like, what, but why? Yeah. Yeah.

John:
Wow, That's genius! I'VE got to get myself one of those.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Yeah. But I've got, I've got, I sell on Amazon and I on Teespring and I've got like 50 different designs all designed myself, you know, and, and coming up with designs and all having to do with low vision, some, some ironic or some sarcastic, some, you know inspirational, I guess you could say a lot of humorous ones. Cause I'm I'm yeah. I'm sarcastic person. So, you know, like you don't look blind. I was like, well, thanks. I guess, okay. You know? Yeah.

John:
Well, you got to have a sense of humor about things, so it's a good, it's a good way to be.

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Well, that's the other thing about my channel is, and I've been, I've been criticized for not or kind of glossing over the negative side of vision loss. And I say, yeah, guilty. I, I, you know, nobody wants to go on YouTube and watch somebody complain about something for 10 minutes. You know, you want to go on and, and escape from your daily life and feel good and enjoy and entertain, you know? So we all, we all live it every day. We all know what the negatives are. I, you don't need me to tell you let's talk about the ridiculous stuff. You know, I have a whole series on my channel called why it sucks to be blind and it's, it's the humorous side. And so it's, it's like one episode will be reason. Number 34, why it sucks to be blind. Well one for example, that I just came to mind as we have these Bradford pear trees in my neighborhood, and they're beautiful. They lined the streets and in the springtime they flower. So these beautiful white trees all the way down the streets and things like that, but they stink rotten fish is what they smell like. So the entire neighborhood smells so bad for about a week. And so I say reason why number 32, why it sucks to be a blind. I can't enjoy the beauty of these trees like everyone else, but I can probably smell it worse than anybody else too. I noticed that smell. So it's little things like that.

John:
Yep. I can relate to that as well. So where's the best place to find you, it's a blind life on YouTube. Are there any other locations?

Sam Seavey:
Yeah. Yeah. So The Blind Life on YouTube, the URL is www.youtube.com/theblindlife. Or if you just Google The Blind Life, you'll find me. And then everywhere else. It's theblindlifesam. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and also my email is theblindlifesam@gmail.com. And I'm very, very soon will, will have my website finished, which will be the culmination of all my stuff will be right there.

John:
Awesome. Look forward to that, Sam. Thanks for visiting with us.CV

Sam Seavey:
John. It was my pleasure. I had a lot of fun.