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John’s lifelong quest for independence

in Latest News, Stories of Independence

Image of a group of people playing sport on an oval

At the youthful age of 26, your whole life is ahead of you. Full of twists and turns, wonders and heartbreak. For John Dark, a traumatic car accident presented one such hurdle to overcome. It was 1963, and John was left vision impaired and with limited hearing. With courage and fierce determination, John underwent a yearlong rehabilitation and many reconstructive surgeries. He then began to hurriedly reapply to sit the university exams he’d missed. His hard work paid off and with success at university, John was able to enter the workforce. Leading a life of fierce independence, John worked up until his retirement a decade ago. It was then that John arrived in Geraldton, where he currently resides. After years of managing his limited sight, John was diagnosed with Glaucoma and now faces the gradual loss of his remaining vision.

For John Dark, life’s everyday moments and routines hold the key to compelling him through the hard times. Keeping fit at the local football oval, taking a stroll around the neighbourhood, or journeying down to the local shops is vital to John’s vision for independence. So much so, it was this independence that led him to join the Geraldton community group for the vision impaired at his local senior centre. Here, John received the opportunity to participate in VisAbility’s ROAM program this year. Remote Orientation and Mobility, otherwise known as ROAM, allowed John as part of a regional community in Geraldton, to have access to Orientation and Mobility specialists located in VisAbility’s Perth office. John was given a harness to wear that was mounted with a camera so VisAbility’s Occupational Therapist Eliza could join him on a guided journey around his neighbourhood.

For John, this was an enlightening and exciting experience. He learnt how to use his new long cane; the best way to hold it and how to stand at intersections while signalling to oncoming cars he wanted to cross.

John remarked feeling at ease and was reassured that Eliza was looking out for him.

At present, John doesn’t need to use the cane full time. However as his glaucoma progresses, with the help of ROAM John can rest assured knowing he will be able to remain independent. As he gains more confidence with the long cane, he can maintain his daily routine and go about as usual; living life to the full.

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