Men In Motion | Matthew Degruchy
- Editor’s Note
- Beyond Sight Magazine Cover
- YouTube Video
- Life Without Central Vision
- The Importance Of Representation
- Blindness Simulation Glasses
- Encouraging Words
- Connecting With Matt
- Image Descriptions
October’s Man In Motion, Matthew aka Matt Degruchy hails from the land Down Under. I’ve been a follower of Matt’s for years and watching him grow into the amazing advocate he is today has been such a joy. What’s a little ironic about Matt’s feature is that he approached me a couple of years ago about being featured and had no qualms about the Bold Blind Beauty terminology. It took me a minute to grasp the benefits of featuring men here but I’m so happy I took the plunge. I have Matt to thank for the idea.
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to an extraordinary visionary, Matt Degruchy. Below the YouTube video is the transcript of Matt’s presentation. Enjoy! ~Steph
Beyond Sight Magazine Cover
Good day, all the way from Australia Matthew Degruchy here. Firstly, I’d love to say a huge thank you to Bold Blind Beauty for having me on as part of October’s Man in Motion series. I’m super stoked to share my experiences of blindness and adversity, but mostly triumph and empowerment.
I’ll begin my story, probably when I was about nine years old life was essentially perfect. No dream is too big to achieve. Everything was more about saying yes, less about saying no.
It was my parents that first noticed something was slightly different. Were they seeing something that no one else was seeing? They were told multiple times by teachers, you’re an overprotective parent, there’s nothing wrong here. They decide to persevere.
I was taken to see optometrist after optometrist appointment after another misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis and nothing ever worked. I was given bifocal glasses called overlay shades, you name it, I had it. I was even in an optometrist office one day and the ophthalmologist was just so frustrated with me that he turned he looked at my mother and said, “if your son can’t read this, he must be a retard.” I was not. This guy was a professional how was I to think.
Life Without Central Vision
Eventually in 2006, I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, Stargardt’s disease. There’s no treatment, this disease is incurable. You will never drive a car. You may never see your future children’s faces, you’ll forever be missing pieces of that puzzle.
The people around me at the time were describing my future as looking rather bleak. In most cases, the likelihood is that I will lose over 2% of my vision. My sight currently sits at between 4% and 5%, depending on whether I’m having a good or bad eye day. My central vision is non existent, meaning that I only see through my peripheral and not very well. A bright colored blur. A messy Picasso masterpiece is more what it’s like for me to describe it than opposed to the stereotype that we who are blind see only black.
I’ve spent probably the last five to six years, trying to learn how to re adapt and learn how to overcome these barriers that the so many of us shackles down, they keep us grounded. I posted the video to the internet. It was for Foundation Fighting Blindness, the “How I See It” campaign, and it was liberating. I never talked about my blindness before. I’d never been open about my battles, or struggles, any of it.
The Importance Of Representation
When I was young, I didn’t see people like myself, or people with a disability, blind, visually impaired. I didn’t see them in the TV, the magazines, the newspaper. I didn’t see people like me being celebrated. The only thing that I saw as acceptable was perfection. And that really haunted me.
Learning to come to terms with the fact that I was blind and visually impaired, I decided to start a clothing brand in 2018. MDV is aimed at raising awareness for the blind and visually impaired. The slogans like “What makes you visionary?,” “Views,” and “Recognize” are meant to represent not only people who are blind or visually impaired, but all disabilities and make everyone in between feel empowered.
Blindness Simulation Glasses
When I do my public talks or events or any form of engagement where I’m doing a presentation, I love to use these blindness simulation glasses. The first time I ever wore a pair of these was at a disability camp for the blind and visually impaired. I think the novelty at the time was that we could just take these on and off. Little did we know that life would be like this for us in the future.
I remember playing basketball doing home ec or cooking, all everyday society tasks. I usually pass these glasses along. Now I must admit these are not attractive, they’re definitely not attractive. They’re not oakleys this is kind of like a double whammy because I already have Stargardt’s disease and then wearing these on top of it.
The advice I’d like to give to perhaps anyone out there that’s younger that has a blindness story of their own or a visual impairment story of their own don’t suffer in silence. I know it can feel really isolating especially in times, like the last 18 months with the pandemic. But we have such a strong social media network, if you can get on social media where you can share your story. You can also read other people’s stories, the health of Bold Blind Beauty, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Blind New World, all of those organizations can really open your mind and eyes to the world of the blindness and disability community.
I struggled a lot. I suffered in silence a lot. I wasn’t open, and I didn’t want to be known as a blind kid. That really scared me. But if I could go back in time, I would change that now.
So if you’re watching this, I want you to take some empowerment from this story. I want you to not be afraid to stand up and our own your differences. Because you deserve a fair go. You matter. You’re important, and your story counts. What makes you visionary. Thank you.
Connecting With Matt
- The header photo is identical to the one indentified in the second bullet.
- Beyond Sight Magazine Cover features a photo of Matt a white man with blond hair who’s standing against a white background facing the camera holding vision simulator glasses over his right eye. He is wearing one of his brand black tees that has his “MDV” logo on the upper left section of the shirt. The text reads: “Matthew Degruchy | An Extraordinary Visionary Who Focuses On Abilities Not Disabilities | Men In Motion.”
- In this headshot of Matt he is wearing a blue and white shirt with a blue sleepmask with the word “Blind” in white text.
- A waist shot of Matt against a white background. He’s wearing one of his white “Visionary” tees.
- Matt is standing in front of a clothing rack containing his brand apparel.
- Another shot of Matt in his black MDV tee holding the vision simulation glasses up to his right eye.
- Behind The Brand: MDV stands for empowerment, boldness, recognition & belief! Raising awareness for the blind and visually impaired, the breakdown of stereotypes and stigmas surrounding all disABILITYs with the subtle yet powerful meaning behind every slogan. A statement for everyone to believe in. Do you and be ‘Visionary., With a photo of Matt in his black MDV tee.