I've been documenting David since he was blinded as a result of a freak bicycling accident 2 years ago. Before the accident robbed him of his sight (David is 100% blind, zero light perception) he was an avid collector of books and an avid reader. His rooms are filled with books gathering dust, their pages filled with adventures, lives, stories and descriptions of visions and vistas that David is unable to now experience.
Together we can raise the money required to purchase a SARA - Scanning and reading appliance; a device designed solely for those affected with blindness and one able to be used right of of the box. The SARA will allow David to place his books or any other printed material upon it and then convert the printed text to audio that David will be able to hear. From being unable to read to able to read any printed material in 5 minutes.
You can watch a video of David explaining his blindness and why the SARA is of such importance here.
I've searched for months for such a piece of apparatus. Not only will it give David the opportunity to experience again the joys of reading, using words to create sights and sensations within his own imagination he'll also be able to re-integrate himself within the now of the everyday that many of us take for granted. He will be able to read todays newspaper, read the daily mail delivered to his home.
When all you can see is nothing, when you have no idea if the sun or moon is tall in the sky, when you wake into a world that's forever black anything that enables a foothold into each day is more than mere entertainment, it's a life saver, a life maker. The SARA scanner will take David from an abyss, a vacuum and give him back to the world and the world back to him.
So please, whilst considering David and his story understand this is so much more than affording David a chance to read books, it's really us all throwing him a life raft that he can cling to and stay afloat in a life that was truly disabled when his sight was taken.
David : Postcards from the black.
I’d met Eugene in the street a couple of years ago. Her style standing out, looking like every woman I remember as a child in the 1970s. We would stop and talk whenever our paths crossed in town, until late last summer when Eugene disappeared.
For months I would ask the few people I thought might know if all was well. No one knew a thing. No news. No news. Then one afternoon during a casual chat I asked again if anyone had sight or sound of Eugene and was told her son had been involved in an accident and was blinded as a result of the trauma. I was more than shocked.
The little I had learned of Eugene had never included the topic of children and to learn that she was indeed a mother and now involved in this awful tragedy, at 86, dismayed me terribly.
Weeks later I saw her coming towards me in town. Behind her, holding the belt of her winter coat, was a tall man. Both were braced against the wind. I realised it was Eugene and her son. We spoke and as I learned more, I realised that her son, David, was a figure I had seen around town since I was 12 or 13, and suddenly these two were thrown together in my mind, two seemingly separate figures now placed together.
David had been very active. Walking, cycling. My memories of him were his always cycling past me as I would walk into town. The summer before last the bag he was wearing over his shoulder had come loose, entangled in the front wheel of his bicycle and he had been thrown over the handlebars, face-first to the road, breaking his upper jaw and neck in two places. “I was choking on the blood,” he told me.
“In the ambulance they got a bucket and it poured out of my mouth… so much blood! I could still see then… right up until I fell into a coma.”
David was taken to the hospital; bones mended, wounds healed, but the obstruction of a feeding and air tube in his mouth prevented his being able to alert nurses or doctors that his sight had vanished for almost a week after awaking from the coma.
“One of the strangest things is waking up from a dream. In dreams I can still see. I can see everything. I wake and feel I can still see for a time, then the black seeps in and I realise I am awake and in darkness again, where the reality used to be filled with sight, now my dreams are. Where sleep was without light, now that’s my waking life. Everything is upside down. Now being awake is like the dream. My awake nightmare.
It’s black when I get up it’s terrible really because it’s dawn but it’s pitch black for me so it’s pretty dreadful. I wake up and no longer feel sleepy and if I didn’t have a talking clock I wouldn’t know what time it was, I wouldn’t know if it was dawn or anything.The worst part of it I think is just before you’re going to get out of bed first thing in the morning and you've got to face another day and you can’t see a thing.
It’s pretty frightening really. You have an inclination to not want to get out of bed at all and just stay there as you’re sort of safe in bed as there’s not much that can happen to you there.
It’s (blindness) really affected the type of things I think about. There are no new images coming into life for me now, all the images I do have are in my head and are from before the accident so I suppose I get further and further out of date with the images in my mind. I find myself remembering more memories as I have no new things to see. When you are able to see new things you keep adding them to your memory but when you don’t see anything new anymore you’ve got no visual experiences to make these new memories because I’m never going to see anything ever again.
All my new memories since I’ve gone blind are dark, black and just the sensation of having to feel my way around in the dark or just other peoples voices. I’ve no idea really what people look like, my mind just kind of makes up an image. I don’t know why but I just sort of see someone and make up what another person might look like. These imaginations probably have nothing to do at all with what the person actually looks like. That’s how I experience other people now.
What happens is nearly every night I still dream and there is light then. I can see the daylight when I’m dreaming and then I wake up I’m blind. Whatever time of the day it is when I’m awake it’s always night now.
It’s a terrible thing in a way because when I dream I don’t know I’m blind, I’m seeing and I’m not blind when I’m dreaming then I wake up and I’m me again and I’m blind. My dreams are a pleasure but when I wake up it’s so much worse. It’s always a shock when I wake up from having a dream and it hits me again – I’m blind.
It pulls me down. The dreams when I wake from them they seem to make everything blacker, the darkness that I see now feels so much blacker. I can see the daylight in my mind when I remember something but it’s all in my mind, I’m not seeing it but in my dreams the light’s right in front of my eyes, not in my mind, there’s just no darkness at all when I dream.
I very seldom used to ever dream before the accident but since I’ve been blind I dream almost every night. The strange thing is when I was a boy I was always in the country, when I worked on the farms it was always in the country now all the dreams I have are in and of the country, I never dream of being here in Market Town, ever. I remember the fields as they were back then, the summer time, harvest time, being outside and everywhere is filled with sunshine.”
You can watch a slideshow of David, his life and why the SARA is of such importance here.
J A Mortram May 2013