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On November  10, 2005 Scott and Pam made sailing history by achieving their first milestone becoming the first legally blind people to cross the Pacific Ocean!

THE CHALLENGE

Our Goal


On October 11, 2004 we put the Golden Gate Bridge astern in a bid to become the first legally blind people to circumnavigate the world independently in a sailboat.  We define this further as sailing our vessel around the world, across all oceans and seaways, without the assistance of sighted crew onboard.  However, to minimize the dangers of collision for ourselves and others we will allow the assistance from pilot boats once we reach crowded foreign ports, and we will further allow sighted crew onboard during our passage through the Panama Canal as it is a requirement for all vessels to have a qualified advisor and line handlers.    


Why sail around the world?


Photo of Scott and Pam standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

Why sail around the world if you are visually impaired?  What are you trying  to prove? 

In Scott’s words:

First and foremost, I would probably have undertaken this goal if I were fully sighted.  I grew up near the beach in Santa Monica and I have always loved the water.  I was a swimmer in school, and I later became a certified diver.  I have always dreamed about sailing around the world, and I am a person who deeply believes that we should all pursue our dreams. 

I would also like my challenge to encourage anyone living with vision loss.  The world has a way of placing limitations on anyone who does not fit the "normal" mold.  From birth doctors told my parents that I would never be "normal".  "Don't expect much from him and you may consider sending him to a residential school or institution".  Unfortunately, this has been a constant theme throughout my life.

To sail around the world will be one more accomplishment in a long line of accomplishments made by visually impaired people that sends a signal to everyone, the   capabilities bar has been raised one more notch for people who are blind. 

For a number of years I was a staff member at Camp Bloomfield (www.fjb.org) and later I became the Camp Director at Enchanted Hills Camp (www.lighthouse-sf.org), both summer camps for blind children and teenagers.  We would sit at campfire and discuss our equality in the world and the philosophy that if we tried hard enough then we could accomplish just about anything.  In some way this effort is a way for me to put my money where my mouth was and do something truly challenging.   If I succeed I will be pleased.  If I fail, I will be pleased for trying.  If I don't do this, I will always wonder why I never tried. 

In Pamela’s Words

Sailing has always been in my blood.  I grew up in Maine on Mount Desert Island and my father worked as a sailboat rigger for Hinckley Yachts.  Growing up in rural New England I never had the chance to interact with other blind children, and sighted people always told me what I could and could not accomplish.  It took me until the age of twenty-three, when I moved to San Francisco, to challenge my family’s perceptions of my capabilities.  I met many blind people who served as role models and I pushed my own boundaries  to achieve independence.  I am participating in this voyage to reach out to blind children everywhere that feel all alone and live by the limitations set by others. 

 


Our Vision


Normal Vision

Photo simulating normal vision

Scott's Vision

Photo simulating Scott's vision

What is legal blindness?

In lay terms a person who is legally blind may have partial  vision, but  has a significant enough vision loss to be considered blind, and therefore qualify for disability benefits/services...  You would probably not lend a legally blind person your car keys for the weekend. 

The legal definition is:

Legal blindness refers to clinically measured visual acuity of 20/200 in the better eye with best correction, or visual field of 20 degrees or less.

 

 

 

 

 


Facts About Blindness


NUMBERS OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED AMERICANS

Approximately how many blind and visually impaired people are there in the United States?

Although estimates vary, there are approximately 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States.

How many legally blind people are there in the United States?

Approximately 1.3 million Americans are legally blind.

How many elderly individuals (aged 65 or older) in the United States are blind or visually impaired?

There are approximately 5.5 million elderly individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

How many visually impaired, blind, and deaf-blind students are served in special education in the United States?

Approximately 93,600 visually impaired or blind students, 10,800 of whom are deaf-blind, are served in the special education program.

How many legally blind children are there in the United States?

There are approximately 55,200 legally blind children.

GETTING AROUND

How many visually impaired and blind people use long canes to get around?

Approximately 109,000 visually impaired people in the United States use long canes to get around.

How many visually impaired and blind people use dog guides to get around?

Just over 7,000 Americans use dog guides. Annually, approximately 1,500 individuals graduate from a dog-guide user program.

CHILDREN'S USE OF BRAILLE

How many legally blind children in the United States use braille most often when reading?

Approximately 5,500 legally blind children use braille as their primary reading medium.

COMPUTER USE

How many blind or visually impaired adults in the United States use computers?

At least 1.5 million blind and visually impaired Americans use computers.

MARITAL STATUS

What percentage of blind and visually impaired Americans are married?

Currently, approximately 42% of blind and severely visually impaired Americans are married, 33% are widowed, 13% are separated or divorced, and 13% have never married.

RACE AND ETHNICITY

Looking at different racial and ethnic groups, how many blind and visually impaired Americans are there?

Of all blind and visually impaired Americans, approximately 80% are white, 18% are black, and 2% are from other races. Eight percent are of Hispanic origin and could be of any race.

EMPLOYMENT

What percentage of visually impaired working-age Americans (not including those who are blind) are employed?

Approximately 46% of visually impaired adult Americans are employed.

What percentage of legally blind working-age Americans are employed?

Approximately 32% of legally blind working-age Americans are employed.

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

How much schooling have blind and visually impaired Americans received?

Approximately 45% of individuals with severe visual impairment or blindness have a high school diploma, compared to 80% among fully sighted individuals. Among high school graduates, those with severe visual impairment or blindness are about as likely to have taken some college courses as those who were sighted, but they are less likely to have graduated.

Does the amount of schooling blind and visually impaired Americans receive vary among different racial and ethnic groups?

Yes. Approximately 62% of visually impaired whites complete high school or higher education, compared to 41% of visually impaired blacks and 44% of visually impaired Hispanics.

For more information on blindness, visit the American Foundation for the Blind's website: www.afb.org

 

 

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Special thanks to Abner Kingman (Copyright © Abner Kingman) for many of the photos on the website. 
Last updated: 09/23/09.