"When I was 13 years old I had a Micro Prolactinoma which had resulted in Opticatraphy leaving me with permanent low vision, this had forced me to attend Athlone School For The Blind in Bellville Cape Town where I had matriculated in 2010.
Before I had matriculated I've always imagined that it will be difficult to find a job as a person living with Low Vision, as I had thought we would not be able to add value to any organisation. This had however pushed me to proving people wrong in becoming successful myself and helping make a difference in the lives of others whom are living with blindness or low vision.
As I had lost my eye sight at the age of 13 it had put a spanner in the works for my future career that I was to for fill which was Desktop Printing [DTP], that had had had very detailed work , as usual this did not stop me striving to live my best life and completing several courses such as Office Administration, Public ?Speaking, International Computer Driving License [ICDL], start your own business and Switch Board which I thought would be my destiny. leading me to the point of working in the assistive technology field for the past 5 years providing assistive technology solutions.
I am currently working for Edit Microsystems which is a leading supplier of educational and corporate technology solutions in Southern Africa. We have been forging the way for technology to aid curriculum delivery and office communications since 1991.
Celebrating another phenomenal inspirational Man during Men's Health Awareness month with Low Vision Care Centre - thank you Neels for sharing your inspirational story with us.....sit back and listen to the story of Neels Jacobz
My story starts on a Friday in August of 1980.
At this point in time I was a pupil at the Vryburg High School in the Northern Cape and only 14 years of age.
As the exam pads is distributed amongst the pupils I suddenly realized that I could not see on the black board in the front of the classroom.
I put my hand up and ask if I can move to the centre row and a bit closer to the black board.
The teacher does not seem to be very happy but allow the move.
I moved to the new seat as quickly and quietly as possible and when I looked at the black board, to my horror, I realized that I still could not read anything at all.
This was a watershed moment. …
I handed in a blank exam book and left for the weekend.
During the weekend I explained to my parents what had happened.
They waited till Monday morning and made an appointment to see an optometrist as soon as possible.
I wasn’t really concerned at this point in time.
Since both my parents were wearing glasses I thought that a pair of glasses would solve the problem.
One week later at the optometrist I was diagnosed with “Stargardt’s” also called “Juvenile Macular Degeneration”
My marks in all my subjects dropped drastically as I battle the continuous loss of sight.
I passed my grade 9 with very average marks, this after being the top academic student for 7 years running.
I made the choice to leave my school and attend a new school in Pretoria called “Prinshof School”
This school specialized in teaching blind and partially sighted learners.
My new life started in January of 1981 as I started grade 10 in my new school.
This was 600 km from home.
My marks immediately picked up again as I flourished in my new adapted environment.
I finished grade 12 in 1983 and immediately started my studies at what is now called “North West University” in January of 1984.
Over the next couple of years I completed both a B.Comm & B.A degrees.
I had approximately 20% sight at the time.
I completed my studies without the benefit of all the text-too-speech computer software & mobile phones with apps, existing today.
In 1988 I started Taekwondo a full contact martial art.
I was fortunate enough to train one on one with my instructor.
I put in 9 hours a week compared to the 4 hours per week of the other students.
3 Years later in 1991 I graduated as a black belt in Taekwondo.
In 1992 I started computer classes at the Optima College in Pretoria.
It was during my studies at the college that I met a physiotherapist who offered to present 4 International Diplomas in massaging. As I already attended computer classes from 8 to 3 in the afternoon, we agreed to have the massaging classes from 6 to 10 at night 4 times a week.
My love for massaging came from a very young age, but, as I never had the opportunity to study in this field, I just had to do this now.
Blind and partially sighted students were not allowed to study physiotherapy at any of the universities in South Africa at the time.
Within a couple of months I completed 5 computer certificates as well as my 4 International Diplomas.
At this point in time Optima College offered me a job as a computer facilitator as my B.A. degree was in training.
I accepted and worked for the next 14 years and 6 months at Optima College.
During this time I had the privilege to teach computer skills to 3500 blind and partially sighted learners from all 9 provinces as well as from 9 International destinations.
In 1994 I met a group of “Braille Chess players”.
Braille Chess is played by people with 10% sight or less.
The chess board & pieces are adapted to accommodate even a totally blind player.
As a famous Russian chess master said: “Chess, like love & music, has the power to make men happy”.
Over the next couple of years I played in 21 National tournaments.
Won 3 S.A. Braille Chess Open tournaments.
Represented S.A. in 5 International tournaments.
In 1999 I met my wife Mignon.
I knew from day one that I would like to marry her.
Mignon had 3 kids from her first marriage.
Mignon & I got married in January of 2001.
In 2003 I adopted our 3 kids and they insisted to change their surnames to mine.
Today all 3 kids are happily married and I still have a beautiful relationship with all of them and their partners.
We are blessed with 3 granddaughters and our first grandson on his way by end of year.
In 2008 I was approached by Vodacom to make mobile technology accessible to people with different disabilities.
11 Years later I have made numerous mobile phones accessible to the visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled & the Elderly.
I am constantly looking for new challenges and updating my knowledge with regards to new technology and advances in the medical field.
To this day my aim is to inspire and make a positive change in the life of every person that cross my path.
I don’t view myself as a person with a disability, I am merely differently-abled."
"Mark Kaplan 62 semi retired Labour Law Practitioner with tertiary and post graduate qualifications. I own a laundry/Dry cleaning business on the Westrand Gauteng. Am a keen runner/ walker with comrades and marathons completed. I am the treasurer of Egoli Blind. I have vision in my right eye having been affected by Glaucoma."
"After a career working as a professional chef, Christopher Venter was ready for a change. He had long wanted to write and his genre of choice was travel and adventure. His plan was to live a story so he could tell the tale. Little did he know, but his story would become so much bigger than expected. It would change the way he sees the world, both literally and figuratively.
Christophers adventure was the crossing of Africa. Riding all the way from Cape Town, South Africa to Dublin, Ireland. 30000km over 8 months, touching 20 countries, all with no support vehicle.
Sadly, during the traverse of Africa, this intrepid adventurer contracted a rare virus. A virus that eventually cost him his sight.
Months went by with Christopher stuck in the dark, confused and unsure how to continue. Then, slowly but surely, he picked up the pieces of his shattered life and started writing.
His first book, “How I became the Blind Scooter Guy” was published and quickly became a best seller.
Since then, this crazy wordsmith has completed dozens of adventures both in South Africa where he resides and around the globe. From climbing an active volcano to kayaking, tandem cycling, hiking, bungee jumping and mountain climbing.
His second book about a journey in the footsteps of 19th century blind traveller, James Holman, was published recently and is already selling fast.
Christopher has penned articles for Getaway magazine, Traverse magazine, Overland magazine and Biz community to name just a few.
He is now preparing for his next adventure, a journey that will see him, guided by 20 different adventurers over 20 different stages. The length of Both the Breede and Berg rivers, from source to mouth and the entire coastline between the two river mouths, one in the Indian ocean and the other, the Atlantic. His expedition will have him travelling by Bike, Boat and Boot, all naturally powered.
His mantra is, “In an Accessible world, a #BlindManCan do anything that a sighted person is able to”
His writings tell of how he today explores and enjoys everything thrown at him, using his four remaining senses to navigate and see the world.
He is an adventurer, a writer, an inspirational speaker and recently became a dad.
You can read more about him and play recordings of some of his presentations via his site www.blindscooterguy.com"
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