If you are reading this blog on the screen of your laptop, place a finger on the bottom of the “F” and “J” keys. Notice anything different? There are bumps on the bottom of each key. Now if you have taken a typing course, you would know that. So no surprise to you. However, it certainly was a surprise to me.
It is no surprise to Erika Rodeck.
She did not take typing lessons.
She is blind.
So Erika Rodeck has learned to put her hands on the keyboard and place her index finger on the “F’ and the “J” so she knows where she is. She taught me that in the first 30 seconds of our conversation. Thank you Erika.
We begin our conversation about what it’s like to grow up blind. In her words, “I’ve always been a person who is blind. Being blind is just like having brown hair. Gorgeous. Right? I don’t know any difference”.
She said she doesn’t fault people for having certain preconceived ideas or prejudices if they have never met anyone who is blind. She is disappointed that the media have a history of presenting “us” in a not very positive light. So a lot of people think that if you’re blind, you’re not capable and you won’t be able to do anything independently.
And that’s sad because outside of flying a plane or driving a car, blind or partially blind people can do pretty much anything. Erika goes on to say that we all have different personalities and different strengths. She compares her challenges with math against her friend who enjoys math. The fact is, what we have in common is that we are both blind. Erika drove her point home by stating “what we don’t have in common is my friend is good at math and I have trouble with math. So that has nothing to do about both of us being blind, that’s because Erika is not really fond of math!”
Erika graduated studying conflict resolution. And although she hasn’t landed a full-time gig just yet she is confident that will happen in the near future. According to Erika, some people believe that conflict resolution means going to other countries or they think about mediation services. Erika believes that when you are dealing with people that, in itself, is a form of conflict resolution.
Erika has been volunteering at the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) because she wants to give back to the community. She says it is really amazing how even things that may seem kind of simple or everyday can make a big difference for people. She gives the following example. Answering somebody’s question over the phone, greeting someone in person, or directing them to the store to get devices to help make their lives better through accessibility are the small things that can have a huge positive impact on making their lives better.
In addition, Erika is part of the CNIB Advocate Ambassadors which is a volunteer advocacy organization. Being a CNIB Advocate Ambassador gives her the opportunity to speak to school children or groups such as the Girl Guides about what it’s like to be a blind person. And she continues to be an advocate by participating in videos made specifically for the public so they can learn how to interact with someone who is blind or partially sighted.
Erika said she appreciates and finds it really respectful when people talk to her just like they talk to anyone else. Yeah, I did watch that movie on Netflix using audio description and I have read that book , even if I listened to it on an audiobook app. She doesn’t want people to change their language just because she is blind.
Erika Rodeck is a well spoken, up beat, authentic person who knows how to inspire others. She is well grounded, and has a manner about her that instantly makes her likeable. Her optimism is infectious. So much so that I know she knew how much I was smiling when I thanked her and said good bye for now.