Robert Kingett, he’s Bold Blind and full of Pride. From the moment he was born, he was destined to be an overcomer and a person unafraid to be exactly who he is. In celebration of Pride Month, Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to introduce you to Journalist and Author of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet, Robert Kingett.
Born A Miracle
I’ve always been somewhat of a miracle baby, or person, I guess you could say now. I fully embrace it, though, and yes, even the inspirational label that gets placed on me sometimes. I embrace it all because I just simply don’t have time to quibble over a slightly incorrect label.
My miracle journey started in 1989 where I was a premature baby. It’s so wild, because my birth certificate says six ounces. I was born in September. I have no idea when I was actually supposed to be born, but I came out defying all odds from the beginning.
I was born with Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), as well as cerebral palsy. I wasn’t supposed to walk. I wasn’t supposed to talk either. My mobility was supposed to be very limited throughout my whole life. And, to a certain extent, that’s true now that I’m older, but back then, I did walk, and I did talk. I overcame so much at such a young age. I still had communication issues though. I stammered badly as a kid and still do. Which, ironically, is why I enjoy and embrace writing so feverishly.
On His Terms
I was born in New York but grew up in Saint Augustine FL. I attended the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and that’s how my path to adaptive technology and accessibility consulting came to be, but more on that later. I’m probably one of the very few kids that actively refused mainstream school. I rejected it firmly. I hated the thought of attending a mainstream school. I knew I was getting the adaptive technology and mobility training that would help me later on in life. I didn’t want to waste my time advocating for everything under the sun. I knew that advocacy would come later, certainly, in college, so I wanted my high school to be as painless and as inclusive to my visual impairment as humanly possible and I just didn’t see that in a mainstream school.
I knew that society saw me as another worldly being that wasn’t worth nurturing as a disabled person, so I perceived mainstream school to just be an academic hassle. It probably would have done wonders for my social life, but I didn’t care about having an active social life when I was younger. I also didn’t want to be around sighted people unless it was on my own terms because, I believed, that my academics would suffer because I’d be trying to develop social justifications. I thought my energy would be wiped because I’d have to constantly demonstrate to sighted people that I’m worthy of existing and taken seriously. At a blind school, disabilities didn’t factor into my acceptance.
Another reason why a big part of that unwillingness to fight for a mainstream education was so strong is because I was getting a very accessible education. I also was just trying to get through the day, and to my eventual long-term goal of becoming influential. Even if it was silent influence, I wanted to actively chip away at the social barriers disabled people face on a daily basis.
From Scrapper To Success
My home life wasn’t that great. I was abused, both physically, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. My mother, who was a single parent, didn’t know how to deal with her own daemons so she took them out on me. She was a heavy drinker and, yes, there would be beatings. I often went hungry, so I absolutely empathize with someone when they tell people they don’t know what real hunger feels like. People will never fully grasp it, I realized, so I just had to survive. Get out. Become as successful as I could possibly be and hope I make a small difference in the world, even if it’s educating someone about blindness or starts a chain reaction that makes things more accessible for many in my generation and beyond.
I developed a strong sense of advocacy in my teen years. I’ve never been good at giving a punchy media bite that goes viral or gets people talking. I knew I’d never be in the spotlight however, I knew my strength was in planning and strategic implementations. Oh, and trickle-down advocacy—chain reaction advocacy, as I call it.
I’m very career-driven, and very focused, which is probably why I’m still single. I’m very proudly gay and or queer. I use those words interchangeably to describe my sexuality. I’m definitely not bisexual though, I’m very much gay. But, often, the men I’m attracted to are sighted and have no idea how to keep up with my career drive. That’s something that will, eventually, slow down I’m sure as I get even older, but for now, I’m very focused. I find the idea of romance and love is just something that I will find when it finds me, and grabs hold of me. That’s ironic because I’m an extremely romantic person. I’m very empathetic but extremely strong, personality-wise. I guess you could say I’m a mashup of imperfections that changes people’s lives in small ways.
The Path To Journalism
My advocacy started when I created the first-ever newspaper for the blind at FSDB. That proved to me that I could give people chances and opportunities if I just kept being persistent. As a result, well, I’m very politically active now. Very progressive. Very forward-thinking. And yes, I’m a proud feminist and trans ally. I knew I had the power to change lives through journalism and fiction, so I began writing. Fiction, advocacy journeys, telling people’s stories. I find that very few people have media literacy skills today. I mean, even in my generation and younger. I read, constantly. I even read mainstream news everybody likes to rag on so much, but again, very few people just simply don’t know how the media works in general, which is why I don’t get into small fights online about mainstream media and agendas and biases and otherwise. It’s all trite ignorance and a complete waste of my time. Besides, I have a socialist revolution to start. Just kidding. Or am I?
My writing eventually created the Accessible Netflix Project, which actually got Netflix to provide audio description platform-wide wherever possible. This was a huge accomplishment, but my work isn’t over with. My real love is books. Especially diverse books, and audiobooks, and the publishing industry. I’m working to eventually make it so that seeing blindness in fiction is common while continuing to be a very strong ally to my fellow minorities.
Unicorns, Cookies & Education
I always find it really weird when someone asks me what my hobbies are. My hobbies are extremely plain and ordinary. Like, who doesn’t like listening to music and watching TV shows with audio description? I know a few people who don’t like reading, but I just imagine them as very confused unicorns and continue loving books and literature. I read, certainly. I watch very dark comedy. I listen to boy bands. I steal rainbow tinged cookies from unsuspecting glittering cats in my spare time. I’m so done with being normal. It’s overrated.
Ironically speaking, my career path has never been regular, either. I dropped out of college, published a book, wrote for free, did accessibility consulting, became more progressive, posted accessibility rants onto the web, and, finally, became an expert witness for a law firm here in Chicago. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell all the responsible readers to stay in school, even if I loath private colleges with every fiber of my peculiar soul. Seriously. I think education is the most important facet in someone’s life. Encourage reading. Encourage creativity, because that’s what truly makes the world go round.
Featured image is the Beyond Sight Magazine cover. Robert’s photo is on the cover, he is wearing a black tee-shirt with the word “PR💛UD” in rainbow colors. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 2 lines of black text that say “Bold blind and full of” the third line ‘PRIDE’ is in rainbow colors. In the bottom left corner is a teal circle with an illustration of a blind man in motion with his white cane and “Men In Motion” is in yellow text under the circle.
When I first met Michael Moran at an event in New Jersey earlier in the year, I was mesmerized by his voice and quickly fell in love with his sense of humor. While he is very funny Michael is also extremely kind, giving, and diligent. Today, Nasreen Bhutta talks with Michael about his life’s journey. Enjoy! ~Steph
For the most part, I think that humor and learning to forgive myself for my imperfections and in doing that I’m more accepting of other people. I fail daily. I’m gonna fail every day, I’m human and that’s okay too.
Nasreen: Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty and Beyond Sight Magazine an online community where Real Beauty Transcends Barriers. Bold Blind Beauty’s 2020 A Year Of Vision Campaign also celebrates blind and visually impaired men. I’m your host Nasreen and for our main segment of our Men In Motion feature, our featured guest is Mr. Marvelous himself, Michael Moran. Mike is involved in podcasting, voiceovers, inspirational speaking, and is also a business owner and so much more! So let’s all give a warm welcome to Mr. Mike Moran. Welcome, Mike!
Michael: Well thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here. I didn’t know it was magnificent or marvelous or whatever you said but I’ll take it!
Nasreen: We’re so proud of you to be here as part of Bold Blind Beauty’s community as well. And just for everybody out there listening Bold Blind Beauty, we met up with Mike Moran in an event in Chicago, sorry, New Jersey. Sorry, wrong city Mike. [laughs] And since then Mike has joined our team and we’re really, really happy. So we wanted to really feature him on our Men In Motion segment. Mike, I want you to let me know how it feels to be on the other side of the hot seat? Usually, you’re on this side.
Michael: Yes, I know, this is quite a switch. And I feel like I don’t know where I am. I’m just in such shock I could be in Chicago, I could be in New Jersey now I’m really confused but go right ahead I’ll figure it out.
Nasreen: Mike, let’s start off with a little bit about your background. Can you share your journey of little Mikey with us to the present Michael?
Michael: Let me see if I can condense this. I was born with congenital glaucoma. I only had vision for light and color. I was very fortunate that my mother really had good instincts. She didn’t know very much about the formal aspects of rehabilitation, she went on instinct, and she was very good. She taught me things, she let me go out and get hurt. If I got hurt she put a bandaid on me and sent me out again and she did not hold me back. She wanted me to experience everything. I just love her for that, she was such a wonderful part of my life. She allowed me to be courageous.
Nasreen: That’s fantastic, a lot of parents, they try to shelter folks and kind of reform them into something that they should be bookshelved or delicate. It’s fantastic that she let you out there to experience sort of life as it is and say hey there, there if you take a fall you take a fall. If you achieve the goal you achieve the goal. That is keeping you in the norm and keeping it sort of centralized so you grow up understanding the whole environment around you. So hats off and kudos to her.
Michael: I want to say in defense of those parents who are unable to do that, I believe they have good intentions but sometimes they are afraid and they become overprotective without meaning to be. This is a new experience, let’s face it not every group of parents has a child with a disability. It’s a learning experience. I was fortunate that my mother just followed her instincts. I did attend a mainstream school. At first, I went to a residential school for blind children in Jersey City. It was run by the good sisters of perpetual revenge.
Michael: And they, you know my mother thought she was doing the right thing by sending me there and in retrospect, I have to say “ah, wrong move ma” but, it’s okay. [laughs] It toughened me up. In those days it was a different time so whatever the nuns said or the priest said or the elders said oh they must be right and the kid’s wrong. That was the philosophy in those days. We get through these things. I mean, nobody gets an easy ride in this world and some of us have a little tougher rides than others but it’s how we come out the other side that really counts.
When I graduated I was the first blind student to go to a Catholic High School from my house. All the other students went to Catholic High School from the residential school for blind children. So I was the first child, I guess to be, as the name changes, mainstreamed or included or whatever it’s called. I didn’t follow the formula and I think I gave the nuns something other than what they were thinking they were getting. I think they thought they were going to get a blind child who stayed home, read braille books, and said the rosary. When I found out where the bad boys were that’s where I went. I was not a good student. I wouldn’t recommend other students who are blind do it the way I did it. But I hung out on the corners, I got in trouble, I got suspended from school, I got in all kinds of trouble. I have to tell you this [laughs] it was fun! I mean, we didn’t do anything to hurt anybody, you know what I mean? We weren’t some rough gang that was out there mugging people, it was all fun. You know we had a doo-wop group, we’d sing on the corner, sing for the girls. You know in high school it’s what can you do to make you stand out, you’re respected by your peers if you can do something. Well, I was one of the bigger kids and I could lift more weights than anybody, that was my thing. And the kids I was hanging out with, they must have had some kind of degree in rehabilitation because all they would do is, we’d be playing football and all they would do is hand me the ball and tell me to go up the middle and or whatever they were doing. Whatever we did we got in trouble together. If we were running I’d hold on to somebody and we’d take off. It was just a great experience and I think it really toughened me up. And in those days I also went to a camp for children who were blind. They weren’t worried about all the litigation that you have today. You know we had counselors who would wrestle with us and you know throw us out of a rowboat and make us swim back to the dock. And it was fun, it was great fun! And it really taught us if you were afraid, keep going, you won’t be afraid once you keep doing it.
Nasreen: That’s a great sort of mantra to share with everybody, you know, toughen up, keep doing it so shatter your fears. It looks like from your childhood and all the wonderful things and fantastic stuff you’ve done broke the barriers on a lot of areas where parents are really stereotypical when it comes to raising their children, not letting them venture out experience new things like things where you got suspended and played football and wrestle and all of that. Those are quote-unquote the norm things that every kid should experience growing up. I commend your mom for that, hats off to her. I don’t know how she kind of put up with all that sort of…
Michael: I don’t know either. But you know, I have to say we can get children into society by making them aware of life not by shielding them from everything.
Nasreen: I also want to ask you what’s the most ambitious thing you’ve done to date?
Michael: I don’t know, it’s hard to pick out because I’ve done some pretty crazy things. But I have to say I loved cross country skiing. I thought that was really terrific and I learned and I got a medal. I was so thrilled and I slept with the medal. As an adult man, I got this medal and I slept with it, I had to. I don’t know I traveled all over the country in my work. I’ve met so many different people. I’ve thrown out the first pitch at a baseball game. I don’t know, it’s hard to say what that is. When the book comes out we’ll try to figure it out.
Nasreen: Oh, so you’re writing a memoir? Fantastic. [laughs]
Michael: I wasn’t until today but I’m just gonna ask you how are you with writing?
Michael: You may be my co-author. I’m signing you up right on the air.
Nasreen: Alright [laughs] we got a deal. Also, Mike, you have also done a lot of voiceovers and you’ve also done a lot of podcasting interviews so I have to you and I’m sure alot of people ask you this same question, but with all the tons of interviews you have done, national and state leaders…
Nasreen: To sports celebrities who was your most challenging interview and why?
Michael: They’re all challenging because the first couple of seconds, I call the joining process, and that’s really a key. I find that once I get started and connected with the person then it’s fine. So many wonderful people you know and everybody’s got, most people have positive things. I’ve never really interviewed controversial people.
Nasreen: I guess Trump won’t make your cut anytime soon huh?
Michael: I actually met him in an elevator.
Nasreen: Did you? Oh wow.
Michael: I was coming out of a basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden back in the 90s and he was on the elevator and I was on the elevator and I heard him talking. And I said to him are you, Donald Trump? And he said, “yeah, can I pet your dog?” And I said sure. And he shook my hand and he gave my dog a pet and that was that. And I said to him “you know what? You’re gonna be president one-day young man.” No, I didn’t, I’m only kidding.
Michael: It’s funny because for a guy who says he doesn’t like to shake hands, I had no problem, he shook my hand.
Nasreen: Yeah, wow. I guess that’s something you’ll remember and cherish but I’m surprised you didn’t say…
Michael: I hope he remembers it, you know. If I ever meet him I’ll say “remember the elevator ride?” And he’ll, of course, have no idea what I’m talking about.
Nasreen: Of course, Mike you’re also part of the actor’s guild can you share with us how that journey came to be?
Michael: They’re combined now, it’s called SAG AFTRA which is Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. I was always fascinated by the guys who did voiceovers and those are the guys that did the prerecorded commercials. The guys at the end of the commercials or that read the whole commercial say, for example, Time Magazine or Ovaltine or something like that. In those days what you would do is you would go to an ad agency, audition for the spot along with god knows how many other people, and then you’d get a call if you’re lucky and you’d go and record the commercials and get residuals. The worst thing happened to me that could have happened to a new artist. The first commercial I auditioned for I got and it was a national spot. It was two baseball players, Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey from the Los Angeles Dodgers; it was for Swanson Hungryman Dinners and Entrees. All I had to say was “Swanson Hungryman Dinners and Entrees the second helping of meat is already in.” The mailman came every Monday and I’m thinking oh man, this is great. The residual checks kept coming in
Michael: And I thought man, this is gonna be a cakewalk. Well, you know, come to find out it isn’t that way. So, Ed Macmahon did not move over and make room for me. I had to keep struggling [laughs] like everyone else.
Nasreen: Can I ask, how you did that? Were you using a screen reader? Which technology devices did you use at the time
Michael: No I just, in those days it was just braille. We punched out the dots either with a stylus or we did it with a braille writer.
Nasreen: How was that received?
Michael: Once you get past the audition you’re in. They don’t care what you do because they know you’re going to get it done. That’s why you were selected. Sometimes it was hard to get auditions. This was a whole new thing: What do you mean the guy’s blind? How are we going to get the script to him? Budda bing. And some of these people they had you’d think the script was The Valachi Papers or something, they’d hold onto things like: “Oh I don’t know if we want to release the script that early and ahead of time.” What? What is this a secret document?
Michael: So, there were obstacles to overcome. Now it’s a different ballgame. I mean, people sit at their computers and they wait for the scripts to come down and read them into the computers.
Michael: As a blind person, I’m not that quick that I can just read them as they come down and send them in.
Nasreen: So you’ve been in a lot of things Ovaltine or like Swansons, Ore Ida, things I watched growing up or many other people watched growing up. So my goodness Mike, wow, that is fantastic. You should be so proud. We’re honored to know that part of you cause…
Michael: Well, thank you.
Nasreen: We always hear you asking us “hey how you doing?” “What’s your most ambitious thing?”
Micheal: Somebody said to me last week “you know, you don’t even know what you’ve done.” I said, you know, you’re right I have no idea. No idea until somebody starts asking me questions.
Nasreen: You definitely need to put that into a memoir book. [laughs] We’ll help you do that.
Michael: I hope so.
Nasreen: So if you had to define yourself in one word Mike what would that be and why?
Michael: Caring. It’s hard to come up with one word because I like to combine two things: that’s love and humor. I think that we can’t have one without the other. I mean you can have humor that can be damaging to other people and not beneficial and doesn’t fill people with happiness and joy. For the most part, I think that humor and learning to forgive myself for my imperfections and in doing that I’m more accepting of other people. I fail daily. I’m gonna fail every day, I’m human and that’s okay too. I just wanted to say I learned a very important lesson from a friend of mine, dear friend of mine, years ago who said to me: “Be serious about what you do but try not to take yourself too seriously.” And there is the challenge because we all tend to take ourselves too seriously. So you have to use that big three-letter word ‘TRY’ not to take yourself too seriously and in doing that I think it gives me a freedom because I realize I don’t have to carry so much weight on my shoulders.
Nasreen: You know I think those are great inspiring words that can help, good for anybody because we all tend to be a little hard on ourselves, too serious, carry the burden or weight and the of the world or our imperfections. We want to change things so that we’re are quote-unquote perfect. I think you summed it up very well that way. We love your humor, that’s one of those things that we’ve come to know here at Bold Blind Beauty that your humor you are definitely a caring person and we experienced that when we were on the trip to New Jersey. And your humorous side is fantastic and I think that’s what sets you apart from many other people. Kudos to you for all that.
Michael: Well thank you. I have to say that we do all learn from each other. I’m not unique, I’ve had role models and maybe I’m a role model to somebody I don’t know, but I hope that we all inspire each other or influence each other in a positive way.
Michael: What I’m trying to do is set up a podcasting service for people who can’t podcast or want to podcast but can’t do it themselves or needs some help. I’m willing to work with people at all levels so I can monitor and host the podcast for them or they can do it themselves and I can edit it and get it up on the platform. I can help them put it together, format the podcast, whatever it takes, that’s exciting to me. I was sitting around wondering what am I going to do? I wasn’t doing much I didn’t know what I was going to do next and I’m listening to podcasts and I said “oh I can do that.” And in addition, I really would like to give workshops and seminars for people who are blind or visually impaired. I think it’s important that we explore certain topics like work readiness, grooming for success, how to adjust to the work environment, and many other things that I think are important and sometimes don’t get talked about such as non-verbal communications for people who are blind or visually impaired. So there’s so many places we can go with these workshops and I think they’re much needed and I think what’s wonderful though is that a lot of the young people today are receptive the world has opened up to them…
Michael: through technology and they want to learn more.
Nasreen: Mike how can the general public reach you if they’re interested?
Michael: I’m going to give you my website which is clearvisionnetwork.com. So it’s two n’s C L E A R V I S I O N N E T W O R K.COM and my phone number is 201-906-8524.
Nasreen: Thanks so much Mike.
Michael: Well thank you for having me it’s been a pleasure really.
Nasreen: Thanks Mike, for sharing your journey with us and being our Man In Motion for May 2020. You can find Beyond Sight Magazine at www.boldblindbeauty.com. Thanks for listening.
Special Thanks To:
Michael Moran, Our featured Man In Motion and BBB Advisory Board Member
Nasreen Bhutta, Interviewer and BBB Advisory Board Member
Daniel Lubiner, Graphic Designer and BBB Advisory Board Member
Featured image is the Beyond Sight Magazine cover. Michael’s photo is on the cover, he is dressed professionally in a jacket and tie while standing next to his guide dog Carson (a German shepherd). The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 3 lines of white text that say “Mike Moran The Voice Like Velvet.” In the bottom left corner is a teal circle with an illustration of a blind man in motion with his white cane and “Men In Motion” is in yellow text under the circle.
While the global community continues to battle Coronavirus (Covid-19), we here at Bold Blind Beauty hope that you are staying healthy and safe. Please continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
For some unknown reason, Peter Altschul was born totally blind. He was the only blind student attending his local high school, where he played percussion in the marching band and other music groups, failed as a wrestler, and studied while pretending to goof off. In college, he played percussion in the marching band and other music groups and drank beer while studying music and psychology.
Peter lives with his guide dog, Heath, in Columbia, Missouri where they market Peter’s books, tutor student-athletes attending the University of Missouri, play drums in their church’s praise band, and sing in four choirs. Peter blogs regularly about connections between the workplace, politics, music, diversity, family life, sports, religion, and dogs while Heath snores on the couch.
And Now For Your Listening Pleasure, We Introduce Peter Altschul
Nasreen: Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty and B3 Magazine, (Music stops.) an online community where real beauty transcends barriers. Bold Blind Beauty 2020 A Year of Vision campaign also celebrates blind and visually impaired men, and I’m your host Nasreen, and I have with me Michael Moran from Clear Vision Network, who is also part of our wonderful team here. And today we’re also going to be chatting with Mr. Peter Altschul, who is our featured guest for the April 2020 segment of Men in Motion. I have known Peter for a few years and now you will come to know him, too. Mike, take it away.
Mike: Peter, I have seen your name in what I affectionately call the blind vine for many years. I remember seeing you a lot on various emails and so forth, and then I lost track of you. I don’t know what happened. I guess computers crash and address books go away and whatever happened, and this was eight to ten years ago. And you were a busy guy then. I read some of your accomplishments before we joined the podcast here. How did you get started on your journey here? Tell me about blogging and your writing achievements.
Peter: Thank you for having me on. It’s great to be here. I never really enjoyed writing, actually. But when I moved out to Colombia, Missouri, my wife challenged me to take a graduate-level writing course and I said, “I’ll never get in. I’ve never written anything. I’ve never taken a creative writing course.” She said, “well, go for it and see what happens.” So I applied, and much to my amazement got accepted. And so I thought, OK, well, that must mean I have some talent in the writing area and I should take it more seriously. So that’s how I started writing my memoir, Breaking Barriers, Working and Loving While Blind, which came out in 2012. When we started marketing the book, my publicist said, “you need to start blogging.” And I said, “well, OK… What should I blog about?” She said, “anything you want.”
Mike: That’s when blogging started, isn’t it? Around 12, or 10? Somewhere in there?
Peter: Yeah, 2012, that’s when it started, and I’ll just say one other thing. So I said, “well, any ideas? Any tips?” She said, “yes, keep every blog fewer than seven hundred and fifty words.” And I thought that was the best advice she gave me because a lot of the blogs I’ve seen are over seven hundred and fifty words and I find a lot of them not particularly readable. So I’ve really made an effort to keep my thoughts concise and I think it’s been pretty effective.
Mike: And how do you get the blogs out there so they’re seen by other people?
Peter: I use WordPress and then I market them using Twitter, occasionally Facebook, and I have an email list that I use a lot, which continues to grow, and so whenever I send a blog out, and send out notices to folks I think will be interested. I hope that my Twitter feed gets people to read the blogs, too. Occasionally, when I tweet something, I’ll get an interesting response from somebody from Australia or someplace I never would expect to hear from. So it’s been an interesting experience.
Nasreen: Peter, I’m part of that mailing list of yours and I just absolutely love reading some of your blogs because I find that satire type of writing style that you have is just phenomenal and unique, and sometimes there’s a chuckle at the end of reading your blog, or kind of like a” hmmm” statement, an exclamation point lighting up going, “hey, I didn’t think of it like that!” Or “yeah, this one here is really an oxymoron.”
Peter: Well, thank you, and I do write that, and I try to write in all kinds of styles on all kinds of topics. I’ve been focusing more on politics than I’m used to doing because of what’s going on in the United States. But my most recent blog, which will come out today, has to do with irony in music. I’m a musician and this is a topic that interested me because of a piece one of the choirs I’m singing in will be singing in April.
Mike: I noticed in your bio that you worked with the taxi cab union in New York, not an easy thing to do. What was your role there?
Peter: Well, back then, Rudi Giuliani was the Mayor and he was getting lots of complaints about taxi cab rudeness. And in his infinite wisdom, he decided that every cab driver had to go through a four-hour customer service training program. And I was hired to be one of the trainers to do that program. There’s a lot to say about it, but it was a fascinating group of people to work with, people from all over the world, with differing experiences, and I learned, I think, more from them than they learned from me. It was a wonderful group to work with.
Mike: Who would you say your biggest influencer in life is, Pete?
Peter: The person that comes to mind first is my mom. When I was raised, the idea of mainstreaming a blind kid into a public or private school was unheard of. And so, I was the first blind kid in the private school I attended through eighth grade and the public school that I went to in High School, and that took a lot of advocacy on her part and some skilled marketing on her part to get me to do what needed to get done. I always admired her willingness to take those chances and to fight the system in a respectful way, most of the time, and to be a good educator. And later my dad became an influence and there are a number of people more recently. Most recently Kobe Bryant, who I find actually fascinating, a guy who started off as a spoiled brat with great talent who morphed into this incredible adult who worked with woman’s basketball and did so many great things for the community.
Mike: Are you going to publish any more books? Do you have any more books in the works?
Peter: My second book is called Breaking it down and Connecting the Dots: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules. The title was too long and I don’t think that book was especially successful, both in the sense of the way the book was marketed and also, some of the articles I wrote in that book, I just don’t think, were up to my expectations. So I am in the process of crafting a second edition, if you will, that really, I think, is much more concise about what I’m trying to say. What I’m thinking about doing, since I don’t have the resources right now to do this myself, is to find a group of people that can help me fund and market the book. So that’s sort of what I’m thinking about in the future.
Mike: I would like to ask you about your role as a step-parent and husband. What are some of the challenges you faced in that role?
Peter: Well, one of the things you said is that you lost touch with me for the past ten years and that’s primarily what I’ve been doing, is being a step-parent to three kids. Being a step-parent has its own set of challenges, not the least of which is they have their own biological dad, who they love and respect, as they should. So to sort of try to fit in between their mom and their dad has been a real challenge. It turned out when I moved out here that each of them have their own disability, a psychiatric disability or learning disability. And so that prompted me to do what my mom did, which is to work with the school system to try to get them the support they needed, and of course, Lisa was very good at that as well. And we were pretty successful, but boy is it a challenge!
Mike: Certainly you are an exemplary role model and I’m very happy to have had you on the program and to finally connect with you after ten years. I mean, you probably did know I was out there. But it’s my pleasure to speak to you. Nas, would you like to say a few parting words to Peter?
Nasreen: Yeah, absolutely. Peter, I’ve known you since 2016, 15, and so it’s great to catch up with you again, in 2020 of all years, and have you as our featured guest for our April segment of Men in Motion, which is found in our B3 Magazine at Bold Blind Beauty.
Nasreen: So I want to thank you, Peter, for being here and sharing your journey with us. And for anybody who wants to know where you can find Peter’s segment and read up on Peter’s segment and more about what we do here at Bold Blind Beauty, you can visit our website at www.boldblindbeauty.com where you’ll find all our segments and features. Thanks so much for listening.
For additional information about Peter, please visit:
Peter continues to support individuals and groups to get better at what they do by connecting them with people who have different experiences and values so they can better achieve a common goal.
Header: The Beyond Sight Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition number are in the upper right corner in black ink. Peter’s photo of him playing drums is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. “Beyond Sight” is in large black text and a teal-colored circle with Peter’s name is in black text. There is 3-lines of black text on the image that reads “Author, Musician, Mediator.”
Thomas Reid, of Reid My Mind Radio, is one of the coolest guys I know. I met Tom years ago at an annual conference of The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. If memory serves, he was the chairman of the program committee for the organization and I was fascinated by his energy and sparkling personality. A naturally gifted speaker and emcee at the conference, whenever Tom had the mike, he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. So it wasn’t surprising to me that his talent for speaking would easily transfer to podcasting.
Since starting Bold Blind Beauty I’ve been on Tom’s podcast three times. While I was nervous during each interview Tom put me at ease and the end result was always phenomenal. What’s interesting to me is seeing how far Tom has come from his early podcasting days. His interviews are not only informative but are also very entertaining with the special effects he adds throughout each session.
When you have a moment I highly recommend adding Reid My Mind Radio your podcast playlist, you won’t regret it.
March Man In Motion Thomas Reid
Music plays in the background.
Reid: So I’m Thomas Reid, producer and host of Reid My Mind Radio. It’s a podcast featuring stories of compelling people impacted by all degrees of vision loss and disability.
Simon: I am —- Simon from Uganda.
Woman: I was born in Mexico. Me and my brother are both legally blind.
Man: I am originally from Turkey. I have been in the US for about eleven years now.
Reid: Reid My Mind Radio is specifically made for anyone adjusting to severe vision loss. That’s those experiencing low vision to total blindness. Reid My Mind Radio —- this audience specifically, meaning no matter what the episodes, guests or topic, the questions I ask, the lessons and strategies that I highlight are always intended for those newly adjusting to becoming blind.
Reid: Let me anticipate a question that someone would have when they hear that, someone new adjusting to blindness.
Reid: Of course, every person’s journey is different. But there’s a lot of shared experiences around blindness and disability in general.
Woman: We exist, and we’re fully human beings, and we deserve to be heard and seen as full, unique, genuine, authentic human beings.
Reid: The truth is, the stories are actually interesting and informative for anyone adapting to any significant sort of life change. Despite what society often says, there’s no shame in blindness. Disability is a part of the human experience.
Reid: Not everyone considers fifteen years of celebrating being blind.
Woman: If I had to be honest, it’s not how I looked at it. Although I tell you, I remember the prayer I had. I don’t care what happens. Just don’t take him from me.
Reid: I guess I’m the right person to produce this podcast because I’ve walked the path, and I still think I’m walking the path. My own journey convinced me that the all too common belief that my blindness is something that should limit me is wrong. Reid My Mind Radio brings you these profiles and stories with a bit of sound design and audio elements and music all mixed together in a way that, I’m telling you, when you listen, you’re going to be like, dang, they just made blindness sound fun. (Laughs,) I’m serious. While I’m presenting different people impacted by blindness, it’s all done through my personal lens. Metaphorically, of course, right? Most of my life, I was sighted. But yet, my vision loss actually began as in infant in the form of childhood cancer known as bilateral retinal blastoma. My left eye had to be removed as an infant. The journey continued when, thirty-five years later, following a second experience with cancer, it required the removal of my right eye. Blindness forced some real changes in my life, but it also sparked the opportunity for me to rekindle my interest in audio production. Pairing my interest in audio with advocacy eventually led me to launch my podcast, Reid My Mind Radio. I’d encourage anyone interested in starting their own podcast, especially young people with disabilities, to use their voices and share their stories, and expand their creativity at the same time. I feel like today’s kids who are blind are all over their technology that’s available to them today. Too many people in the mainstream media have no clue as to what talent they’re actually passing over; the ingenuity, the capabilities… I like to see these kids express themselves on their own terms, similar to like their independent music run. But then I like to see them get that money too.
Reid: Big shout out to Steph McCoy and Bold Blind Beauty. I’m honored to be included as a Man in Motion. I appreciate the opportunity to tell you a bit about me and the podcast, and I’d love for you to check out Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get podcasts. You can even slide on over to Reid My Mind Radio or follow me on Twitter, @TSReid. So there’s no confusion, that’s R to the EID. That’s my last name.
The B3 Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition number are in the upper right corner in black ink. Tom’s photo is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. Thomas Reid an African American man with a clean shaven head and goatee in shades smiles at the camera while seated at a desk. The desk holds a laptop and other equipment including an audio mixer and microphone. A framed picture of the original World trade Center hangs on the wall above a black Fender electric guitar. “B3” is in large teal text and a teal-colored circle with Tom’s name and title are in white text. There is 3-line of white text on the image that reads “Reid My Mind Radio | Making Blindness Sound Fun.”