Archive | March, 2013


30 Mar

by Fred Nikkl

I was riding the elevator down from the Second Sense blind services organization where I volunteer and happened to hear two people discussing the new colors there office was being painted.  Now it has been over fifty years since I have been able to see colors so their interest in the color scheme of their office didn’t hold much interest for me.  Later, it occurred to me that not being interested in color could be considered to be a little strange.  We are surrounded by color wherever we go.  Everyone has an opinion about the colors around them.  Just because I can’t see the colors around me shouldn’t mean they are not of interest to me.  The problem for me is that my memories of color have faded over the years since I have been blind.  What is blue?  For that matter, what do all the colors look like?  My memory of green, for example, conjures up particular memories.  I picture the dress greens I wore in the army.  Of course, that is only one shade of green.  How many others are there?  How can I compare one shade to another when considering the color of my shirt or anything else for that matter?  My color identifier gives a name to everything I try it on but that doesn’t tell me enough about the particular shade the color is. Some blind people only wear certain colors just to be on the safe side but that seems kind of boring to me.  I have been lucky to always have someone to take shopping with me so I have some idea of the colors I am buying.  The problem with that is that everyone has a different idea of how different colors go together.  One person says I look good in a certain shade of blue and the next person says something different.  Maybe there isn’t a definitive answer to the color question.  

I think I will choose a particular shade of blue and use it as a basic color for my color choices. Being a man, this will be a lot easier than if I were a woman!

Fred Nikkl is 69 years old and has fun writing.  e lost his sight when he was a young adult but has never let that stop him from being a good dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and generally nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure, including dabbling in writing.  His previously posted story on Vision Through Words called Hope will be appearing on the Magnets and Ladders website for writers with disabilities.

This RP Ride

22 Mar

by Nora Devane

I’ve sat back for so many years
Watching this ride
Seeing the ups
Hearing all the downs

Always avoiding my turn
Thinking I will never get on
My turn would never happen
Someone else was always in front

Yet here I am, first in line
On a ride I’d rather skip
The ups I miss
The Downs I am sinking in

Never did I think I would climb aboard
Feel this hurt,
Ride through this pain
Want so bad to get off

But here I am no return ticket
Just a heart full of fear
Head full of questions
And not knowing where to start

Nora K Devane was diagnosed with Retinitus Pigmentosa over 14 years ago.  She is a legally blind photographer who also finds her escape in writing poetry. She is married and lives in North Dakota.  Her writing helps her express how she feels about having RP. For her, writing is the best way to get out the words she sometimes cannot say in person. Nora’s photography is also a huge escape from the RP, because when she raises her camera to her eye, somehow she sees it “all” and she forgets she is blind.  You can see Nora’s photography at .

What Are You Looking For?

15 Mar

by Maribel Steel

“I thought you said you only wanted perfume?” Mike reminds me as he drags behind.

”We won’t be long,” I trill, the white cane tapping with a jolly rhythm. “We might as well look at handbags while we are here.”

“Right. Handbags,” announces Harry as we arrive among the field of leather goods. “What exactly are you looking for?”

“A Spanish leather bag.”

“Are you crazy?” pipes up Mike. We are in a shop FULL of handbags.”

In haste to curb the onset of a mother-son argument in public, Harry steps closer to Mike, displaying admirable solidarity by resting a calm hand upon my son’s shoulder, saying to me, “You have to understand. We don’t mind helping you to find a handbag among this minefield of bags, but you have to tell us exactly what you are looking for, or we could be here all day.”

I hold back my response of, fine by me…but I sense the fire- breathing teenager by his side is about to explode if we don’t exit this consumer maze very soon.

“Well, maybe a brown one – or…no, red would be nice, but maybe a black one, black goes with everything,” I add, trying to be concise.

“Which is it? Brown, red, black?”

“I don’t really know until I feel it. It needs to feel right.”

“How about this one?” Mike thrusts a brown bag into my hands.

“No. It’s not the right shape.”

Mike looks up at Harry. “She said brown?”

“Or red or black,” I hiss, sensing busy shoppers milling around us. I can’t bear being parked to one side without being allowed to touch one single item so, unguarded, I move towards a shelf and plunge my hands into the confined space.

“Mum!” scolds my son, picking up the expensive leather debris all around us.

“Darling.” Harry grabs my arm, speaking slowly through gritted teeth, ”Just explain what colour bag you prefer. How big you like it, what shape and texture.”

While my companions spend the next hour looking on my behalf for just the ‘right’ bag, I learned one important fact: that men and women really do come from different planets when it comes to making choices. A bloke wants to know all the engineering specifications up front (size, shape, colour, texture, width and diameter) whereas a woman is open to the seed of possibility, the initial idea growing organically as her choices grow (which is strangely misunderstood as changing her mind), to see what takes her fancy, choosing something completely different to her original idea.

“I give up,” says Harry.

“I’m starving,” glares Mike.

I’m over it too. The shopping anaesthetic had well and truly worn off and only a comforting strong café au lait could restore the harmony required for us all to remember why we had come to Barcelona in the first place.

Maribel Steel is a writer, blogger, mother and singer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. As a person with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she believes her life is about learning to trust her other senses: to hear, to touch, to smell, to intuit, to love and to laugh.  You can view this full story and more of Maribel’s thoughts and experiences on her blog and visit her website at .

A Special Poetry Selection

8 Mar

by Alice Shapiro


Glow- ing
from the inside.
Smile-less, a face that knows no smile
is the true heart.
I can feel the shiver
of love
in visual silence, as if it were a blinding light
searing heat into my skin, erupting like July explosions
illuminating the unfathomable


 At midnight as I wake from dreams,
horrors that encumber peace,
distant roars from racing cars emerge
from out the stillness, and pull, thankfully,
at my attention.
Where are the chirping birds, familiar sounds
to recognize its morning? No sun, and so
it is time to turn to darkness and the bed
again. Recoiling from the tasteless prospect,
water splashed on bleary eyes,
I trudge toward waking fully and sit erect.
Deep inside, and still asleep, a portion of me balks
at midnight that to start a day is futile.
A tragic fear pours its message down into
the light, and resistance owns the night.
I fight it. I reason, pledge to try
all the while staring at a blackness
that beckons plain to weariness.
Lost between two worlds, I think.


 It is the deepest part of night.
Resisting the exit from sleep,
eyes swollen shut,
still half within a dream,
Nature calls.
It takes some while
to transition
from sedentary rest
into just enough awareness
to sense the danger of retreat
back to the pillow.
So, the trek begins from bed
in the moonless dark.
A hand extends,
an eye’s substitute
to navigate the path ahead—
past armoire
past door jamb
trembling, reaching for
the blinding light.
It is within this faint condition,
business done,
that comes another invitation—
the lure of sinking back to
dark oblivion,
by the pen.
Into the unseen dawn,
scratches on a page
a journey won—
one more day on Earth,
one more sun.

Alice Shapiro wrote these poems specifically for a reading at Borders Books in 2009 with the theme of “Vision” and were read in Braille by Destiny White at the event. In these poems, Alice tried to capture some idea of what a blind person might “see.”  These poems were published in her  second poetry book, Life: Descending/Ascending.  Alice is the author of 3 poetry books and one play which won the Bill C. Davis Drama Award.  She currently serves as Poet Laureate of Douglasville, Georgia.

What Is the Right Color?

6 Mar

by Stella De Genova

What’s it like to be a visually impaired artist whose color differentiation is fading?  Frustrating may be the first word that comes to mind but I’m not going to be that hard on myself.  I take this as a new opportunity to break the rules and color outside of the lines. Depending the time of day or lighting, colors change and may or may not be so apparent.  And that’s for people with good vision.  If you look at something long enough, you’ll see more than one color in just about anything.  And you can paint white snow or a white vase without even using white paint.  So try as I may, I don’t always get it right, which is OK because it makes for new interpretations of everyday life.  It makes me smile when the art instructor critiques my piece and says “Green usually works better in skin tones than blue but that really worked for you.”  Little does she know that I thought I did use green!  Of course, if I start out really wanting something to be accurate, I’ll ask someone for the correct colors but as the picture takes its own shape and I keep adding new layers, the colors tend to change.  Yes, when this new aspect of my vision loss started, it was frustrating but I’m learning to be less of a perfectionist and ultimately, that means I have the freedom to have more fun.

This is an excerpt I wrote for Maribel Steel’s blog, At the Gateway to Blindness, and a piece of Part 2 of her series called The Art of Being Blind.  You can read Maribel’s full post and and Parts 1 and 3 at: .

Bus Romance?

1 Mar

by Fred Nikkl

Here comes the bus, I hear it turning the corner at Southport. It pulls up in front of me and I swing my cane out and tap the front of the bus. The door is open so I step up onto the first step and then up the rest. My fare card is in my hand as I reach out for the fare box. As I slide my card through the card reader I say hello to the driver and get a grunt in reply. Oh well, maybe he’s having a bad day too. I find the first seat behind the driver and sit down.  At least the air is working on the bus on this hot, sticky day.

The bus is pretty empty as this is the beginning of the line. It starts filling up as we get to Lakeview High School. I lean a little forward so my shirt is away from the back of the seat to help circulate some cool air. My right hand is holding my cane and my left hand is on my knee. The little finger is on the left side of my knee and the middle three fingers are over the front of my knee with my thumb on the right side of my knee. The bus is getting more crowded. People are starting to stand in the aisles. Then I feel some cloth brush across the back of my left hand and up to my wrist. Then I feel bare skin against my little finger and my thumb. I freeze. What is happening? That felt like a woman’s skirt brushing across my hand, it can’t be shorts as there isn’t any material touching the fingers over the top of my knee. Does this woman know what she is doing? Is this just an innocent act on her part? Is she trying to tell me something? How should I react?  If she has just moved close to me to make room for other passengers then any move on my part will probably cause her to scream. Why would any woman be interested in an old fat blind guy? What to do? I raise my head as if to look at her but she doesn’t respond. Wait, maybe her legs are pressing harder on my fingers. Is this a signal? I open my mouth and close it again because I can’t think of anything to say.

Then as quick as it started, her legs move away and the feel of her skirt is gone. I guess it was nothing, or was it something and I failed the test?  For years now, I have wondered about that encounter. What was really happening?  Was it all my imagination? I don’t know but it’s fun to think about what might have happened if I had responded differently.  It’s something to dream about during those long lonely nights I spend by myself.

Sometimes imagination is better than the real thing.

Fred Nickl, Sr. is 69 years old and has fun writing.  e lost his sight when he was a young adult but has never let that stop him from being a good dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and generally nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure, including dabbling in writing.  His previously posted story on Vision Through Words called Hope will be appearing on the Magnets and Ladders website for writers with disabilities