Blind veteran catches second wave with a surfboard and Iphone
Scott Leason is an early riser. By 5:30 a.m., he’s checked his electronic mail, social media, the news and the weather conditions. He’s reviewed the day’s surf studies by using the Surfline app on his new Iphone XR, prepping for the day’s experience. Just before the sun rises on this specific Friday, he’s geared up and prepared to go for his session at Mission Bay Aquatics Middle in San Diego in which he’ll surf Mission Beach front.
And he ordeals it all devoid of viewing it. Leason is blind.
A veteran of the US Navy, he was just one of quite a few visual communications professionals — or “signal men” as they have been termed — stationed on the USS Tripoli amphibious ship, signaling vessel to vessel by means of flashing lights, Morse code and semaphore. After 7 years of DC escort support, Leason was blinded when a robber’s bullet value him equally his eyes on July 4th, 1993. In 2009, following learning his new “normal” over quite a few several years, Leason obtained a computer system and technology instruction from the US Office of Veterans Affairs’ Blind Rehabilitation Centre that would be pivotal in his journey to residing independently.

Available cell personal computer engineering was still nascent, but Apple’s iOS was immediately starting to be a person favored. In 2012, Leason obtained his first Apple iphone — the Iphone 5 — and training from Sarah T. Majidzadeh, assistant main of Blind Rehabilitation at the Tibor Rubin VA Clinical Center in Prolonged Seashore. “It’s a lot easier to navigate with the cellular phone,” Leason states. “I consider a lot of the visually impaired desire the Iphone because they can do every thing on it. And VoiceOver works fairly darn great.”

Leason is just just one of several men and women who are blind or lower vision who rely on VoiceOver to navigate day-to-day responsibilities. In point, more people today in the blind neighborhood now use VoiceOver than any other mobile monitor-reading through application combined. Approximately 70 percent of the vets that have occur as a result of the VA’s 13 blind rehabilitation centers are delivered with iOS gadgets and accessibility teaching. “These equipment are leveling the enjoying field,” Majidzadeh suggests.

But Leason is no tech guru. Certainly, he wears an Apple Look at to keep track of his vigorous workout routines at property and in the water. But he prefers to maintain points straightforward and have all of his gadgets streamlined, a thing Iphone has carried out for both sighted and blind individuals. “Tomorrow I’ll be ready to commence my browsing workout,” he claims. “It’ll be exciting to see what form of calories I melt away out there.”

He is also a significant athlete with a severe aggressive push. He wants to earn, and a few times, he has: Leason was the initial blind winner at the Usa Adaptive Browsing Championships at Oceanside Harbor North Jetty in June 2016. The identical yr he won second area in men’s methods at the Usa H2o Ski levels of competition in Harmony, North Carolina. This year on your own he competed in 7 competitions in 4 distinctive sports activities.
“When he showed me all the things he could do with [his iPhone], it just blew my brain that he experienced learned how to interact with it to get all of that out of it.”
Though Leason has been doing work with the Mission Bay Aquatics Heart for 10 many years, surfing is only a current endeavor, an try to revisit a childhood pastime from expanding up in Corona del Mar. In excess of the a long time, with help from the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound plan for vets, Leason and the Center have tailored, acquired and developed as he conquers new feats in the drinking water.

Paul Lang, instructional coordinator at the Mission Bay Aquatics Heart, remembers some of the stumbling blocks in the early times they’ve given that prevail over. “When he h2o skis and wakeboards with us, usually we can converse to the rider that the boat’s about to change,” he points out. “Scott does not have any of those cues so we experienced to come up with methods like, when we’re heading to drop him off at the beach front, we reach up and shake the line so he feels the line shaking and that’s our cue to him that we’re coming in. These very little things … we run into a roadblock, we determine it out with Scott, and occur up with techniques that perform well so that every person can do this.”

Lang, who has worked with Leason considering the fact that before he obtained his 1st Iphone, is normally blown away by his means to adapt in and out of the water.

“The 1st time he obtained an Iphone and realized how to use VoiceOver, I requested him to present it to me since you just see him tapping the display screen and to me it produced no sense what he was executing result in it is just like this flurry of tapping and these words coming out of the mobile phone seriously really rapidly,” Lang says. “And when he showed me all the things he could do with it, it just blew my mind that he had acquired how to interact with it to get all of that out of it. … He’s no various than anyone else. He’s just sitting in the corner in excess of there having caught up on his cellphone or listening to tunes, examining, and sending text messages.”

“It’s remarkable how long ago 10 several years feels in the globe of technological innovation,” claims Kevin Waldick, assistant director at the Mission Bay Aquatics Heart. “He was not really technologically savvy at all, but when he obtained his Apple iphone he was like ‘I can just do it. This is amazing.’ And so Apple does a really wonderful occupation of making that obtainable. These sports are available just like technology’s accessible. That is been large for him.”

As 2018 arrives to an end, Leason has one thirty day period of wakeboarding and browsing till he and the Heart just take a break for the vacations. “When I’m at the end of a line guiding a boat just like anybody else, I overlook I’m blind,” he states. “And then when I arrive into the beach and there’s men and women all around Snickers and I go yeah that is my looking at eye pet dog and I got a board in my hand and they go, ‘you’re blind?’ That’s a great sensation.

“The water sports activities are therapeutic but also I believe it’s far more of my identity and who I am, and who I grew up to be,” he says.

Back again on land, Leason enjoys a spicy lunch while reliving the day’s waves. He’s wiped, but he nonetheless has a two-hour exercise session prepared for later in the day. And with Snickers by his facet, he’ll maintain heading. He’ll make a fundraising drive on his GoFundMe webpage, he’ll plan out his competitions and pursuits for 2019. He’ll continue on dwelling everyday living on his very own conditions. “I’m unbiased,” he suggests. “That’s the best way to explain the Iphone: independence.”

Push Contacts
Colin Johnson,Apple, colin_johnson@apple.com ,(408) 974-6284
Apple Media Helpline,media.support@apple.com,(408) 974-2042



Blind veteran catches next wave with a surfboard and Apple iphone