Firstly, to go back a ways, I have always been into computers, technology, gadgetry, etc., from a pretty young age - got my first commodore 64 PC back in 1983, when I was 11 years old, and, have been into different forms of computer programming since then, and, yes, I am now a bit older, and thus, more experienced.
Anyway, besides that, I also started riding motorcycles in 1988, when I was 16 years old, and, that was pretty much it - I have been somewhat passionate about biking since then.
For example, I literally never even had a car driver's licence, and, among other things, I became a member of the Hellrazors motorcycle club in 2002, and, if you want to check out some more on them - I actually used to be the webmaster for a while as well - then have a look at their website:
The Hell Razors MCC
The Hell Razors MCC
Anyway, in November 2005, while I was heading back to Kempton Park, from Pretoria, on a Friday evening, with my wife, Lisa, on the back, on the R21, a car driver decided to pull a u-turn across the freeway just as I was about to come past them, and, unfortunately my wife died in the accident when her helmet ended up coming off, and when she was hit by a couple of other cars behind us, and, while I hit the car, and then ended up flying over them, onto the road, besides some broken ribs, and a broken leg, I also suffered a form of traumatic-brain-injury (TBI), which caused my optic nerve to be destroyed/severed.
I was apparently in an actual coma for roundabout 4 and a half weeks, but only really became aware of what had happened, and, where I was, in February the following year, 2006, when I sort of 'woke up' in hospital.
Now, of course, initially I wasn't very happy about the whole thing, but, the primary focus switched to recovering, or let's maybe rather say adapting and/or adjusting after I became aware of assistive technology that was then already available, and, of course, the support from both my own family, the family of my wife, and, my biker brothers and sisters, since I remember quite a few visits from then, in hospital, where we'd end up laughing about certain things - about, but, not at, if that makes sense?
Along the lines of injuries, recovery, etc., the only reason I am still alive was since I was wearing sufficient protective gear, including a good leather jacket, proper protective gloves, and a good helmet, along with jeans and doc marten boots, but anyway.
Once I was released from hospital in March 2006, I then worked with some people from the blind/VI community where they were working on developing a form of programme for orientation and mobility, or adjustment training for late-blind individuals, where they got me comfortable making use of a white cane, explained basics of computer usage while working with a screen reader software package - that one was more of a set of guidelines relating to adapting my old thought patterns/methodology to, for example, pretty much just making use of the keyboard, etc., but anyway.
They also taught me to read basic braille, and, that was also partly a choice of my own, since, while we, in the modern world, primarily make use of electronic devices, on principle it's not a bad thing to be able to work with some basic forms of literacy, and, while I still say I can write basic, un-concatenated braille, using an old-fashioned slate and stylus, faster than I can read it, I do also have a set of what look like standard playing cards, with braille on their corners - joke there is, "don't let me deal..." ;).
I do also have actual braille tattoo's inside both forearms, that are done to stand out a bit, with normal lettering alongside them, but, those were done for two reasons, one of which was a form of show and tell, since I myself had never even thought about what braille might look like, and, besides that, inside the left forearm is the word depression, and, inside the right forearm is positivity - yin-yang, to a certain extent, but, yes, I do have other tattoo's on both my upper arms, from old days.
As part of the process, in terms of having lost my wife in the accident, I did also donate R50000 to the Silverton SPCA in her name - they said they'd rename the one refurbished wing after her, and, that was since we'd always been passionate about animals, caring for them, etc., as well, and, on her gravestone, including a large eagle, which was one of her favourite images, I had the words from the song by the band Journey engraved, "Wheel in the sky keeps on turning...", but that's also partly since she would have been one of the people who would have told me to get back to living the soonest, and, the most often.
You should also not think I am no longer a biker, or a member of the biking fraternity, and, if you want more details on my blind motorcycle riding, then have a look at the blind motorbike riding page.
I have also already had two guide dogs - both named after famous cricket players - and, I will be speaking to the local guide dog trainers in the future to work with yet another full-time companion animal.
For more than the last 20 years, I have been a full-time web application, or software developer, and, one of the advantages of modern forms of technology and software is that I can still do this on pretty much the same level, or scale, as I used to in my sighted days, with no real need for additional, paid-for technology or software.
That's since, besides something like the Windows, Apple Macintosh, and Ubuntu linux operating systems having their own built-in narrator software, I make use of things like the NVDA = non-visual-desktop-access screen reader package, which is completely free, and open-source:
Also, besides just figuring out ways to handle all other forms of lifestyle adaptation, since, yes, for example, I still love cooking my own food, there are a hell of a lot of different forms of assistive technology available that people may not be aware of, like my watches that speak out the time when I press a button, and, almost all modern smart phones, based on things like the android and iOS operating systems, can be configured to speak out their screen contents within 5 minutes, or even less, if you know what you're doing.
For example, here are two separate sites, focusing on those two different platforms, that focus on their usage in this context:
You can also, then, install a whole lot of additional forms of assistive technology software on both forms of handsets, and, yes, I have been involved in beta testing on the android platform, on quite a few different forms of assistive technology software, working with developers from various different parts of the world, trying out and testing software focusing on things like eBook reading, GPS navigation, object recognition, optical character recognition, naturalised synthetic voice output, etc.
Besides more common platforms, like smart phones, I have also taken part in prototype testing for some forms of assistive technology hardware, and, as a habitual techno-junkie, I also try out, and test a lot of different forms of software on my PC's, including forms of accessible PC gaming, etc.
I also make use of alternative implementations of some forms of adaptation that might, at times, get coverage in mainstream media, like sensory substitution, which is a principle along the lines of people like Daniel Kish working with, and, helping to train other people in the use of echo location, or flash sonar, as he refers to it, but, there, my primary focus area is an effort by a Dutch scientist, Dr. Peter Meijer, called the vOICe (the capitalisation there relates to pronouncing the middle three letters as "oh I see"), and, my current primary usage configuration is the following:
The vOICe for Android on smart glasses
The vOICe for Android on smart glasses
That allows me to build what I refer to as virtual vision images, using my optical cortex, or my imagination, by interpreting it's audio interpretation of real-time camera input, but, it does also offer real-time text recognition, colour filtering, or detection, etc., and, the software allows me to make a lot of configuration, or setting tweaks and changes, pretty much on-the-fly, to try out slightly different interpretations of the real world.
In terms of other efforts I have been involved in, besides blind motorbike riding, me and another connection have also looked into providing, or producing some additional forms of content, like audio podcast renditions of a mainstream comic, some blind cooking show podcasts, etc. etc.:
Library of resources and material
Library of resources and material
Along the lines of that, I did also give a talk at the local radio production event, Radio Days Africa, relating to blind, or visually impaired podcast recording, consumption, etc., and, we do also want to try set up a form of live, online streaming radio station, but, that's still under development.
I suppose that the main thing is that, while I had previously been unaware of it, besides just working out, or discovering alternative forms of adaptation, modern technology is a wonderful thing in terms of how it makes it possible for some of us to operate on levels that make it almost unnoticeable that we may suffer from what some people may refer to as a disability, but which we refer to as just being differently enabled...<smile>.
In other words, along the lines of the slogan that I made use of during my latest blind motorbike ride, "There are no limits other than those which you apply to yourself".