I am a 14 year old blind skier, horseback rider, cross-country runner, Challenger Little League baseball player, singer, musician, voiceover artist, radio personality, advocate, student lobsterman and geek supreme from a small fishing village named Beals Island, Maine. Oh, and one more thing you should know, I’m a huge Boston Red Sox fan!
I was born totally blind from a rare genetic condition known as Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA); because of this, I’ve been thrown lots of curveballs in my life.
I’ve been bullied in school to the point of emotional and physical breakdown, prevented from participating in activities by well meaning but misguided adults, and much more. But when I am pitched what looks to be yet another curveball that threatens to strike me out and send me back to the dugout – defeated, worn down, tired, and ready to give up – I try my hardest to focus on the ball, and swing with precision regardless.
Being blind, I am very aware of how access (or a lack thereof) can make or break the experience. How can you join in the game if you don’t have access to the playing field? That’s why advocating for access is something I have taken seriously from a young age.
When I was 8, I realized how hard it was to find audio description (AD) on local TV stations. AD is a narrative describing what’s happening on screen that’s not evident through dialogue. At that time, only 1 out of 5 stations provided AD access. I called station managers, engineers, and owners impressing upon them how important AD access is for people who, like me, are blind or visually impaired. After 6 years of advocating – which included a lot of striking out – along came a home run as the last two stations making AD available came across the plate.
But with a new year came a new challenge. When a friend and I decided to see the latest Star Wars movie, I didn’t realize how inaccessible movie theaters could be. I want to watch movies alongside my sighted peers, so I created a petition to make Hollywood aware of how important this is to me – and to millions of other blind and visually impaired moviegoers. Being blind has its limitations – but with audio description, enjoying movies shouldn’t be one of them.
If there are things that you want to change, take a chance and step up to the plate. Advocate. It’s amazing what one voice telling a story, and many heralding it to the world, can do to create a more accessible playing field for all.
So step into that batters’ box. Swing that bat. And see what happens next. The only way to know is if you try.
To sign and share my petition, Make Movies Accessible to the Blind, please go to:
A note from Noah’s mom:
Noah was in Nepal with No Barriers Youth from June 3 through 17 and then in the Burgundy Region of France from June 18 through 28 with Washington County Children’s Chorus. He’s a busy young man!
In the photo that accompanies this post, he’s practicing for his 8th grade celebration procession and recession (plus managing the stage to give a speech and receive awards) by using a rope taped down with painters tape as a guide to independently march into the gymnasium, through the music room and onto a stage.
His dad put down approximately 125’ of rope as a guide so he could manage the entire ceremony and walk a straight path along with his sighted peers.
He did an amazing job! So proud of the young man he’s become! So independent and confident! Makes my heart happy!