This is the sound heard when my aluminum baseball bat strikes an oversized softball that beeps. I quickly drop the bat and run toward first base as fast as my legs can carry me. I slide into the buzzing base a split-second before the fielder can get me out.
“Yes!” I exclaim, knowing I’ve just scored a run for my team.
This might sound like an ordinary softball game with some odd beeps and buzzes involved. It’s anything but that.
The above description is an example of myself playing beep baseball, an adapted version of America’s favorite pastime for the blind and visually impaired. I started playing beep baseball in 2012 when the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind in Florida hosted an annual game. I was hooked right off the bat – pun intended. Since then, I’ve competed in the National Beep Baseball Association’s World Series every year since 2017.
Playing beep baseball has led me to gain an interest in other sports for the blind and visually impaired. These include goal ball, tandem cycling, skiing, sailing, golf, audio darts, and bowling. The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and the Paralympics are the main umbrella organizations in the U.S. for blind athletes, although there are quite a few smaller ones as well. Believe it or not, most sports and recreation activities can be adapted for the blind with minimal modifications.
Through this interest, I decided to launch my own podcast in 2019 called Eyes Free Sports. I interview guests who range from athletes and coaches who have been involved in blind sports, to authors who’ve written about these unique athletic events.
I have several goals with Eyes Free Sports. First off, I want to raise awareness about sports and recreation for the blind to educate the world that blind people can be athletic, competitive, and can have fun. I also want to offer resources to those who may be interested in getting more active. I understand that lots of blind and low vision individuals are older, so I want to be sure they’re included by covering activities that anyone of any physical ability can enjoy – even audio or card games.
Plus, I know that physical activity has countless benefits to mental health. It can boost one’s self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, and can allow people with disabilities to make meaningful social connections with others facing similar challenges.
If you are an experienced and passionate blind or visually impaired competitor, connect with me on social media and I just might want to share your story. I want to create an “ESPN of blind sports,” so join me in spreading the word that people can score big without eyesight.
The Eyes Free Sports podcast is available online. You can also listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts by searching for “Eyes Free Sports.” Or, ask Alexa to “Play the Eyes Free Sports podcast on Apple Podcasts” to hear the latest episode. To follow the podcast and get more information and resources about sports for the blind, find Eyes Free Sports on Facebook and Twitter.
Greg Lindberg is 33 years old and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He has Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a retinal condition. Greg works as a full-time marketing writer and podcast host at a university. In addition to sports, he enjoys singing, playing his guitar, and watching The Price Is Right. He is an active member of the American Council of the Blind.