Episode 58 – Unstoppable Communicator with Wayne Tuttle
Wayne Tuttle has been a self-described communicator his whole life. Even before he lost his eyesight, he wanted to go into broadcasting but could never get hired. However, ironically as he lost sight more jobs opened for him, not in radio but in areas such as the financial world and then later in the telecommunications industry.
Along the way, after losing his eyesight he first discovered the world of public speaking, and then later he found Toastmasters International where he learned to hone his talks. He now is a very successful speaker and communicator as you will hear.
I invite you to join me as we learn about Wayne’s life and his adventures. His story is fun and inspirational and it contains life lessons for all of us. Listen along with me and see just how unstoppable your own world can be.
About the Guest:
With over three decades as a Professional Speaker, a career in corporate communications, paired with multiple appearances on national radio and television as well as a full-length documentary featuring his life and dream of becoming a certified blind scuba diver, you will soon experience Wayne’s infectious Can-Do attitude.
His powerful and inspiring message will shift attitudes, influence new ideas and share new ways of doing things that will inform, inspire and motivate audiences to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. With his self-deprecating humor and tales of personal triumph, Wayne has been entertaining, enlightening, and educating audiences around the globe in person and virtually.
Added to his many accomplishments, Wayne is a dedicated advocate for the disabled community and frequently facilitates Disability Awareness Workshops and Keynote presentations to organizations and corporate clients.
For further information:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is an Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below!
Subscribe to the podcast
If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app.
Leave us an Apple Podcasts review
Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts.
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well, hi again. And thank you for being here, wherever you may be, if you’re not sure you are listening to the unstoppable mindset podcast, where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet and we deliberately put inclusion before diversity. Because in my experience, diversity has not involved disabilities very much. Several of you have probably heard me say that on this podcast before. And you’ll probably hear it some more. And you may even hear it from our guest today. who also happens to be a person who is blind. So Wayne Tuttle Welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Wayne Tuttle 02:00
Well, thank you very much, Michael, for having me.
Michael Hingson 02:02
Glad you’re here. And Wayne was introduced by someone who heard him speak at a Toastmasters group. Someone as I recall, you didn’t even know but they liked what you had to say and introduced the two of us. And here we are, which is always a fun thing.
Wayne Tuttle 02:18
Yeah, brilliant. It’s a small, small world.
Michael Hingson 02:21
It is and grows smaller daily. Will will tell me a little bit about you tell me about your your childhood and all that growing up and so on. And I gather from reading your bio, and so on that you were not initially blind.
Wayne Tuttle 02:35
No, actually, I didn’t start losing my vision. On till the year after I graduated college, I was on track to be involved with radio and television broadcasting moreso in the radio part of it, I never really wanted to be in front of the microphone, I always wanted to do the production end of it. And unfortunately, back in the day, it was really difficult to break into that market, you always seem to have to have on air experience for at least a year before they would even think about putting you into production. And unfortunately, since my vision was starting to change considerably, it was very difficult at that time because everything was done manually. It’s not like today everything is so technologically advanced. So how long ago was that? Wow. Well, that’s that’s gonna default by age shared was back and it is 75
Michael Hingson 03:41
There you go. I know the year well. No problem. Well, so you before then you went to school and high school and all that and got into college I gather before you started losing eyesight.
Wayne Tuttle 03:56
Yeah, like, I thought as a kid it I felt very different than everybody else. It seems like you know, the old saying your parents would always say, oh, make sure you’re home before the streetlights come on. Well, for me it darkness started early. So I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. And for those of you that are not familiar with it, part of it has to do with night blindness. So I thought everybody had the same issue as I did, that I wasn’t able to see as well as everybody else. But it was like playing hide and go seek or playing tag that became more and more difficult for me. But as time progressed, I started losing the peripheral part of it. And I was okay for a number of years. It just started progressing over the years or level off and then we go down a little bit more. And then finally guess it was around 2017 Or I lost the remainder A portion of my vision.
Michael Hingson 05:01
So did you ever get an opportunity to go into radio production or TV production?
Wayne Tuttle 05:08
Well, it was well, and funny that you asked that. On on the onslaught. As far as getting into the business. No, I was never really involved with it. But it wasn’t until I lost my vision that a lot of doors opened up, I became very involved with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, of the RP Foundation, they were named that at the time, they’ve since changed the name, thump, Foundation Fighting Blindness. And I just started having more and more opportunities. So be invited on different radio shows, television shows, magazines, all kinds of different opportunities, I think because of it.
Michael Hingson 05:58
So you, you end up being in front of the microphone, after all,
Wayne Tuttle 06:04
unfortunately, but I was involved with that I’ve been in three different documentaries. So I was behind the camera, as well as in front of the camera, I did some producing and directing in that aspect. I have produced a number of podcasts over the years and that sort of thing. So I still like to keep my hands involved with it. Now, with the advent of so much different technologies out there, as you you know, Michael, would you use in Reaper, Reaper is a program that’s fully accessible for people who are blind. And that’s one of my next missions to really start to learn the editing portion of it without vision,
Michael Hingson 06:53
well, and you will find using Reaper that a lot of that is really very open and accessible. As you pointed out, I’ve been using Reaper now for who almost a year and have not done anything in terms of really editing music, or any of that. And Reaper certainly has the capabilities to do that. But as far as being a mechanism to do editing for podcasts, it is great.
Wayne Tuttle 07:21
Oh, absolutely. And there’s so many different tutorials on YouTube and a lot of different people that you can network with, they have Facebook groups, that they share their different tips and tricks. So beyond really looking forward to
Michael Hingson 07:38
that. Yeah, there’s a lot there. It’s it’s a lot of fun to do. And in fact, I just edited a podcast episode that we’re going to put up next week. And was and I’m always learning new things, but I was very pleased with the results in just doing simple editing. But it’s it’s still a lot of fun. Yeah. So you were you out of college by the time you started losing eyesight or was that before you left college.
Wayne Tuttle 08:09
It started really taking effect around 1976. I knew there was some changes going on with my vision, especially with the peripheral part of it. And I searched out all kinds of different so called when I say so called specialists. I had everything from diagnosis of having cancer to I’m not sure what it is tumors, you’ve got this, you’ve got that. And finally, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa Crusher syndrome. Which when did that happen? I wasn’t actually diagnosed with Asperger’s till I was 30. Okay, so I guess I was around what 1920 1976?
Michael Hingson 08:57
Okay, so you definitely started to see changes in salon, but you went ahead and went through college. And then what did you do?
Wayne Tuttle 09:09
Well, from there, since I wasn’t able to get a job in the business, I moved back to my hometown, which a very small community in northern Ontario and Canada, maybe a population at the time around 10,000 people. So there really wasn’t a lot of opportunity available. They did have their own radio station at the time. And from time to time, I got to know some of the disc jockeys and I would go in and do my audition tapes and using their studio and that sort of thing. But I still had that dream that I always wanted to get into radio, but unfortunately I had to put it on the shelf for a while. I went back and worked in a factory. The same factory I did when I was a kid. So I thought after a year I said no. I don’t want to do this the rest of my life. I want to do something there. For. So there was an ad and one of the major newspapers in Toronto, Ontario, one of the largest cities in Canada, they had an advertisement for someone in in communications for the Toronto Stock Exchange, right on the Toronto Stock Exchange trading floor. I applied for the job, and they hired me on the spot. So within three weeks, I was moving from a little tiny town to the big scary city.
Michael Hingson 10:34
What were you making the manufacturing plants? What were you doing?
Wayne Tuttle 10:38
Em? Funny, you should ask. There was bridal gowns and bridesmaids gowns. There you go. And it was formal, where I was involved in the cutting area where we would cut the pattern. So with all these electrical solid type things a little bit dangerous as you’re starting to lose your vision, but I managed,
Michael Hingson 11:02
did they know that you were blind or losing eyesight?
Wayne Tuttle 11:06
Oh, no. No, you would have been knocking back in the day that that was taboo. You never ever told your employer that things were changing, because he always had that fear of losing your job because of it.
Michael Hingson 11:22
Sure. So you move to the stock exchange, did you mention anything about eyesight during that process at all?
Wayne Tuttle 11:31
For the first two years no. Okay, by did not let on at all. And the way that things worked on the Toronto Stock Exchange, you would be working for the Toronto Stock Exchange. But there was all kinds of brokerage firms that were always scouting for people up in the back office or to do different things on the trading floor, that sort of thing. So I was scouted out two years later. And I got hired on by Merrill Lynch, one of the largest in the United States and in Canada. Yes. And I eventually told them that the job was becoming more and more difficult. And you have to remember, this is going back late 70s, early 80s. So technology for people with vision loss was very archaic. I mean, the first technology that I worked with was a CCTV system, right, where I would put the piece of paper underneath the camera, and it would enlarge and up to whatever size that I needed, and continue on with that. So it was quite a challenge at the beginning.
Michael Hingson 12:46
So when you when you told them know what happened, they I
Wayne Tuttle 12:50
was very fortunate that I had a boss who was very receptive to it, she saw that the things were changing in and of course, you know, you try and cover things up and get around things, asking other people to do things for you and that sort of thing. But it got to the point where I think, deep down I knew she knew. So I eventually had to have that conversation and say, No, I really need to look at other adaptive technology. And I need to be, I guess more so accommodated, was, what
Michael Hingson 13:30
involvement did she do? Well,
Wayne Tuttle 13:33
she took me off, what I refer to the assembly line, or we had to do a lot of communication. But back in the day, it was teletype. There was no real thought of computers yet. So we were we were using a world war two technology with the teletype for that sort of thing. But I eventually started climbing up the ladder and became a manager of the department and I had 28 people under me. So I would spend my day half the day would be right on the trading floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the other half of the day. I wouldn’t be up in the office.
Michael Hingson 14:16
Why do you suppose that she reacted in such a positive way. When you finally told her what you needed to tell her?
Wayne Tuttle 14:24
Well, I think we had a very good relationship. Inside work. She was a taskmaster. She was very, very strict. I’d like to use the word but it’s not appropriate. But she
Michael Hingson 14:42
I Korea, she was tough. She was tiring.
Wayne Tuttle 14:45
Yes. Yes. Very, very tough. And I can remember all I was there 12 years, and I can remember probably around year 10 Year 11 I had just had a Enough of it. She was always on me, says, can I talk with you? We went into her office, close the door. And I said, What is going on? I’m just so tired of you always on me. And she said to me, you know something, because of your vision loss. If you ever leave this environment, it’s going to be tough out there for you. So I’m just trying to toughen you up. And when you know, two years later, I left. Why did you leave? I needed to change. I think it was the stress level, because it wasn’t a typical nine to five job. You were basically there until the job was done. Because you would have to send information to other departments and they couldn’t start their job until your job was done. So I know there was many, many times 10 o’clock at night, you starting at eight o’clock in the morning. So when the stress level really started to wear me down. Of course, a lot of people in that environment
Michael Hingson 16:12
leave because of course, the reality is with the stock exchange, and I’m familiar with it from selling products to Wall Street and interacting with them a lot, it really is a 24 hour a day job for the company. Because stocks are being traded somewhere most all the time. And information is extremely important. I remember once being down in Florida, we were working with some folks from at that time, it was Salomon Brothers, and then became Salomon Smith, Barney. And now it’s gone away. But we were down there, because we sold the products that people use to backup their data. And so we were talking with some of the people at the backup facility for the Wall Street trading floor. And they made it really clear that even if they were down for one minute, they would lose millions and millions of dollars in transactions, they could afford never to be down. And they actually and they actually had to backup facilities in Florida and had them somewhat underground and in places so that even if there was a hurricane, they would be able to continue to backup and operate and provide support.
Wayne Tuttle 17:33
Yeah, it was just unbelievable. You know, the old saying Time is money in the stock market industry. Basically seconds count
Michael Hingson 17:44
seconds. Absolutely count. I can’t remember it was seems to me it was something like possibly up to $5 million a second, they would lose if they were ever down. There was something incredibly awesome in terms of the amount. So yeah, there’s a lot of stress. So you left the stock exchange. So that must have been about what 2000 2001
Wayne Tuttle 18:09
Or no, that was 19 JD Oh, okay. 89. All right. And then what did you do? I was searching around, they thought I wanted to get into the personnel industry. I did a short stint at Children’s Aid Society. Then I had an opportunity to get back into communications with Rogers Communications. I was there for another 10 years.
Michael Hingson 18:49
He didn’t sell telephones. So that’s how you
Wayne Tuttle 18:56
in job. What did you do? I was in the call center. Okay, so I was a manager in the call center. And occasionally I would have to deal with difficult customers and that sort of thing.
Michael Hingson 19:10
Oh, you couldn’t have any difficult customers?
Wayne Tuttle 19:15
Well, if the weather network goes off yeah, the phone would light up. Yeah. My mike tyson fight only lasted
Michael Hingson 19:25
two minutes and six seconds. Yes.
Wayne Tuttle 19:28
I was I was there.
Michael Hingson 19:30
I remember that fight. We were watching it. I was with relatives or a friend I guess it was relatives. Anyway. We we watched it on TV. I never thought about the fact that people would be all ticked off that it didn’t last very long. But hey, he was doing his
Wayne Tuttle 19:48
job. Well, especially if they’re paying that kind of money. You
Michael Hingson 19:52
pays your money. You take your chances. Yeah, exactly. What did you do after being with Rajesh for a while so now you’re good. be close to 2000, I assume?
Wayne Tuttle 20:02
Yeah, um, I think it was. His was three years before I left Rogers, I took a transfer to a smaller community, who was the head office was in Toronto, but they had satellite offices throughout southern Ontario. And I decided that, you know, it was time maybe my wife and I would think about starting a family and we wanted to get out of the city, the hustle and bustle type of thing. So it was still a city we were moving to. And I took a job and their call center was a little bit different than what was and the head office. But they decided after three years of being there, they pulled me in the day before my birthday and announced that though we no longer need you anymore. Oh, thank you. Yeah, well, at that time, I was still looking at starting my own business. I think that really gave me the drive to take my business to the next level.
Michael Hingson 21:09
So they invited you to no longer be connected with Rogers. And
Wayne Tuttle 21:14
then what? And then I started my own business, and
Michael Hingson 21:20
accents. And what were you doing? And what is your business,
Wayne Tuttle 21:24
doing motivational speaking, different types of workshops, everything from disability awareness, to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities, doing different types of keynote addresses, high schools, doing workshops for local groups, here in Canada, they call it scouts, Canada as opposed to Boy Scouts in the United States. So I did a lot of work with them. A lot of nonprofit organizations and that sort of thing. So
Michael Hingson 22:03
why go into motivational speaking? Was your eyesight sufficiently changed by that time that it made good sense, or what caused you to do that?
Wayne Tuttle 22:11
I don’t know. I really enjoyed speaking in front of people and sharing my story, I think so really sparked an interest with it
Michael Hingson 22:23
was your story. So a lot about the concept of eyesight and disabilities and so on at that point?
Wayne Tuttle 22:32
Well, I think my message was that, you know, the sky’s the limit, follow your dreams, no matter what adversity that you face in your life. There’s always a possibility. You have to want it bad enough to achieve it.
Michael Hingson 22:48
What’s the favorite venue? Since you became a motivational speaker? What’s your favorite place that you’ve been or a place that stands out in your mind?
Wayne Tuttle 23:00
Oh, there’s so many of them. I think probably a weather I would say it’s my favorite. But the most fun was the ride for sites. I would speak every year, the ride for site and we would have anywhere up to 9000 rowdy bikers,
Michael Hingson 23:23
and they listen to you.
Wayne Tuttle 23:26
Well, it’s funny, you should ask Michael it, it was so strange, because of course, these guys are there to celebrate. They’re there because they’ve raised literally hundreds of 1000s of dollars in a short period of time. And they really want to let their hair down. So but every time I got up on stage, it was almost like it was a pin drop. I would always make it a shorter dress because I know that they were there to party and carry on. And I always had an opportunity to play with the band that was there. an accomplished musician, I play bass as well as drums. And I’ve been doing that since I was 14 years old. So I had that opportunity. And I think that’s where I have my most fun. Well,
Michael Hingson 24:20
it’s interesting that you you came to speaking in the way you did, and you’ve certainly obviously had a lot of fun doing it. And along the way, I also know that you join Toastmasters and when did you do that?
Wayne Tuttle 24:37
Michael Hingson 24:39
so you’ve now been in Toastmasters about six years and is Toastmasters been an advantage and a help to your speaking career into your speaking style and so
Wayne Tuttle 24:50
on. I am a totally totally different speaker than I was years before. It got to the point where I was doing a lot of speaking engagements, and some of them were repetitious. I never had a mentor. So I learned this craft on my own, but I felt there was something missing. I needed to freshen it up. Well, I heard about Dale Carnegie, but I didn’t think that was for me. And I just went on Google one day, and I don’t even know what keywords I use. And all of a sudden, this thing came up Toastmasters. What the heck is a Toastmaster, a bunch of old guys sitting around the table haven’t told staffed or toast or is it a gourmet toast making thing or something? Oh, no. So I started to investigate it more and ended up going to a few meetings and I said, Yep, this is what I want to do. So in 2021, I decided to take it to even the next level and joined an advanced Toastmaster club. That sounds like a lot of fun. Yeah, I write differently. My speeches are written differently. My workshops are different. My presentations are totally different than what I used to. And I’d like to say they’re more effective,
Michael Hingson 26:18
one would think and I think appropriately so that being blind shouldn’t really affect your ability to participate in Toastmasters much less being a public speaker. From my own experience, of course, I say that. But certainly finding a tool to help you with that, like Toastmasters makes a lot of sense to do. Oh, absolutely.
Wayne Tuttle 26:43
But I also find that one of the things that I’ve noticed is that there are literally 1000s, or even hundreds of 1000s of speakers out there. And to get into that type of market, you have to have some kind of fuck. To stand out, you have to be different than the rest of the crowd. And I find that because of my blindness, I seem to be getting more bookings. Now more so than I ever have.
Michael Hingson 27:17
Why is that? I don’t know.
Wayne Tuttle 27:19
I wish I had that answer. I don’t know if it’s people are intrigued by that fact. They want to see something different.
Michael Hingson 27:29
Do you work with a speaker’s bureau? Or how do you find speaking engagements,
Wayne Tuttle 27:33
I was with the speaker’s bureau for a short period of time, but unfortunately, I probably joined the wrong one. But it’s pretty much word of mouth. Someone sees me at an event and usually people in the crowd will come up and want to chat with me and do different things. I dabble into a lot of different things. One of the things that I’m involved with, but I’ve been a Titanic, Titanic historian, and artifact collector ever since I can remember probably early 70s And usually around the anniversary date usually have a few bookings to my displays. So my collection then they do a two hour presentation about the Titanic. You never show the movie will tell you. I’ve only seen it a few 1000
Michael Hingson 28:34
times. Yeah. Understand
Wayne Tuttle 28:37
what JJ ever did. He did do a good job of it. That was a good movie.
Michael Hingson 28:40
And I in fact, when it came out, it is long enough ago that we bought the VHS tape version of it, which was two cartridges. It wasn’t one it was if I recall what three hours plus not four hours it was three hours. So the to be a nominated for an Academy Award, though. You could not have a movie that was that long. So they always portrayed it as being only two hours and 74 minutes long. Yeah. That’s how they had it under three hours. It was kind of funny. But let’s come back to blindness a little bit. Tell me some of the the strangest and most absurd questions you ever been given our experience. And we can sit here and talk about that all day, the two of us but we’ll start with you.
Wayne Tuttle 29:35
Oh my Lord. It is hilarious. I think that the funniest ones are kids, especially the elementary kids. You know kids will say the darndest things they don’t care at all. Like here’s some of them. Is your wife blind to know she’s a blonde she’s got offline to Sublime. I remember this one presentation I did. This kid was so excited. He wanted to ask the question, you know, at a grade two grade three level, it’s always that you’re jumping up and down and okay, that and he was kinda a little shy, a little bashful and he pays but of course, he didn’t take Toastmasters, you wouldn’t send so many arms. But what you got, is it? Is it key because that’s a key gisc Key is what does he mean? Oh, do you mean can you get it? continued? I see I can’t do this, right. So I said, Well, why don’t you come up here and shake my hand? No, no.
Michael Hingson 30:51
I think the funniest question I ever got was also from someone and I don’t remember what grade they were in. It was a guy course it would be a guy, too. And his question was, how do blind people have sex? And he said it with an absolutely straight face. Oh, my word. And so the only way I could really respond to that was to say, the same way everyone else does. And if you want to know more about that, you really need to ask your parents.
Wayne Tuttle 31:31
Yeah. I’ve never had that question. But I’ve always had the question. How do you go pee all
Michael Hingson 31:38
the time? I haven’t had that one.
Wayne Tuttle 31:40
Yeah. Same way as you do. No different. But I think you know, it’s thought by consult just the questions. It’s the comments. And one of the quieter comments that I get all the time, is, what do you do? What blind? Yeah, well, you don’t look blind at all. You don’t look stupid.
Michael Hingson 32:06
I had an insurance agent Call me once on the phone when I was in college. And he said that he wanted to come and sell me insurance. And I knew that insurance companies at that point would not sell life insurance to any person with a disability. But I figured, oh, what the heck. And I said, Sure, come on over. He arrived at three in the afternoon. And I went to the door and open the door. And I had my guide dog with me. I decided to do this upright, right. So I had the dog and harness. And he said, I’m looking for Michael Hickson. And I said, I’m Mike kingsun. And he said, You are my kingsun. And I said, Yeah, well, you didn’t sound blind on the telephone. And it was so tempting to say and you didn’t sound stupid on the telephone either. And of course, needless to say, he came in and hemmed and hawed and brownies, I have to call my boss. And I never heard from him again. Because, and, of course, as we know, the reason that insurance companies would not sell insurance, life insurance to blind or other persons with disabilities back in the 70s, was not due to actuarial statistics or any fact but rather simply to prejudice. Yes. And we were able to eventually fight that there’s still a lot of it out there. But still, at the time, we couldn’t buy any kind of insurance. My parents, when I when it was discovered, I was blind couldn’t even buy $1,000 life insurance policy on me. They could not it would have cost so much, because of the fact that the insurance companies were steeped in this prejudice that blindness was going to create a situation where I would die off sooner than other people.
Wayne Tuttle 33:51
Yeah. Well, I had a situation not similar to life insurance, it was coverage with one of the companies that I worked with their insurance company paid for prescription glasses. While I didn’t need prescription glasses. Back in the day, they were experimenting with what they called Corning lenses, right? Which they figured it would be a preventative measure. So I had to fight the insurance company because these Corning glasses were extremely expensive. And I actually won. They did pay for the preventative classes.
Michael Hingson 34:35
It’s fascinating to really look at what people’s attitudes are. And you mentioned that a lot of questions that you get from kids are funny and so on. But the neat thing about any question from a child is still, it really comes from curiosity. And mostly it doesn’t come from fear. It really does come from curiosity. And if there’s fear, it’s because there’s been fear instilled. And then by their parents who are afraid of blindness? Or why would want to catch that or ever have that ever happened to me, even though the reality is that in our world today, given all the things that are out there that can happen to one, blindness is clearly something that anyone might have the opportunity to experience. But kids always ask questions. And I think it really comes from Curiosity. So they’re always worth answering. I have now in the lowly, I have one. Go ahead.
Wayne Tuttle 35:33
What I was just going to comment on with the mentality of some people in our public is that they have this understanding that it could be possible that you could catch blindness. Yeah, I noticed a huge difference when I was using a white cane. People would literally, if you’re sitting on the bus, they would kind of shift over to the left, why don’t want to touch that person. But when I’m out with my guide, dog, totally different story. People are swarming around you like flies to honey type of thing. It’s
Michael Hingson 36:12
all about the dog? Well, you know, and that’s, that’s one of the things about the Foundation Fighting Blindness. And the reality is it doesn’t fight blindness, it fights eye disease, and it shouldn’t talk about fighting blindness, but it does. Back in 2016, they created this campaign called how I see and I was e y e, and they wanted people to blindfold themselves and then take videos of them trying to perform a lot of different kinds of actions around their home and so on. And, and of course, it was all giving an absolutely wrong and horrible depiction of blindness, because of course, none of these people were trained to do what, what they did. And finally, I was involved in a lot of ways with it. But finally, blind people, ourselves started sending in videos saying, No, this is the real picture, and overwhelmed the site. And eventually Foundation Fighting Blindness took the site down. And there were some discussions afterward. But the reality is, blindness isn’t the problem. It is still the attitudes and misconceptions that people have. And unfortunately, at that time that the foundation promoted, that didn’t help the situation at all, which is extremely unfortunate.
Wayne Tuttle 37:34
Absolutely. And you’ll find that kids today are more understanding than adults are. When you have adults that are around our age, they’re old school. So they may be have been brought up in a small community, or if they’re in a very large city, they may or may not have had the experience to interact with someone who has churned whether whether they’re blind or in a wheelchair, or what have you. And then all of a sudden, there’s someone in their church group that’s in a wheelchair or Toastmasters, it’s blind. They just don’t understand. And they’re afraid. I don’t want to offend them. Like, you know, I don’t know what the right words are. How many times have you heard say, people say, oh, did you hear that movie last night? What do you hear that movie? No, I watched a movie last night. And I’ve seen it before. Yes, I don’t take those words out of my vocabulary, because I have no vision. It’s still just a part
Michael Hingson 38:44
of it. In fact, as I tell people, I think I have lots of vision. And I try to make light of it. I just don’t see so good. But the reality is, and that’s the problem with even using the word vision, but I’m not sure there’s a better solution. But the reality is, we’re that we’re either blind or low vision. And I think it is something that we really should deal with the concept of visually impaired is ridiculous, because visually, is a completely different thing than eyesight altogether. It has to do with appearance and aesthetics and so on. And the fact is we’re not visually impaired. It’s better to say low vision. It’s like with Deaf people who don’t want to be called hearing impaired, they’re deaf or hard of hearing. We are blind or low vision. And I think that’s an appropriate way to put it. That is acceptable to everyone. But the fact is that blindness still isn’t the problem. It is still all about attitudes. And we’ve got to change that and I would like to see organizations like the foundation. Enter that discussion in a positive way. There’s nothing wrong with trying to cure eye disease, but don’t do it at the expense of Providing misconceptions about what blindness is and what it isn’t. And that’s unfortunately, what happens all too often.
Wayne Tuttle 40:06
Absolutely. And I think it really comes down to where you’re from as well. Because in some countries, they use different terminology. And it’s always changing. Like the the newest trend that I’ve been hearing is differently abled, yes. What?
Michael Hingson 40:29
It’s horrible. Because we’re not differently abled, hey, I use Reaper like anyone else does. I use a keyboard, I don’t use a mouse. But I use a keyboard and more people should use keyboards because sometimes they’re faster than mice. But the concept of differently abled is horrible. It still depicts the fear. Yeah, and my wife is in a wheelchair, she has been in a chair her whole life differently abled, that’s ridiculous. But it is oftentimes what we experience. And more and more of us who happen to be in the community of persons with disabilities are trying to get people to understand that words matter. It’s no different than any other minority group who has been down this road. Except that, I think that there’s a lot more fear associated with disabilities. And so as a result, it makes it tougher, because no one wants to be like them, that is still the thing that we face.
Wayne Tuttle 41:34
Exactly. And I coined a new new phrase that by I’m a sighted man living in a blind man’s body,
Michael Hingson 41:44
I am light independent. It’s as simple as that. And the reality is, most everyone in this world has the disability of being light dependent. And, you know, the reality is that we love you anyway. external light dependent. So you know, it is just kind of what we have to deal with. On the other hand, being blind, what kind of embarrassing things have happened to you. We all have had those kinds of things to where,
Wayne Tuttle 42:13
depending on how much time do we have, like, I’d like to share this story with the audience. And I’ll try and give you the Reader’s Digest version of it. But it has to be the absolute worst day of my life. And the funniest day of my life. It was my dad’s scream 2010, I was to be giving the eulogy. And unfortunately, because I was so close to my dad, I wasn’t able to deliver it. I wrote it and had the minister read it. But at that time, my sister in law’s she was newly blind, and she had her first guide dog, and I was there with my guide dogs. And it was time for us to leave. And since we were the immediate family, we were to leave the child pool first and the rest of the parishioners would follow us out to the hearse. Well, her guide dog had this uncanny ability to lie on his back and snore. And do you think we could get him to get up, she just could not get him up. So my brother literally had to lift him up to get them going. Whereas my dog Cosmo, she decided that as she got up, she let a very aromatic odor go. That caused my great aunt to start choking, because it was so bad. Well, of course, I sort of broke the ice a bit. We got to the grave site. And there were chairs set up for the immediate family. So prior to the rest of the congregation showing up, like my father was very popular in the Tony as a volunteer firefighter. He was a model railroaders. So we belong to a few clubs and whatnot. So there had to be, oh, I would say 100 or so people there. And my wife and I would we rehearsed how many steps it was from the chairs up to the grave site. My father was cremated. So this was the very first time that I was involved with a cremation. All I knew was a tiny little coffin. And they told me go out to the hall and then just sort of drop it in. So I counted the steps up to how far away it was sat down, so it was time for me to do I got up there. And I went to reach down. And I felt the the actual hole with my arm. But I didn’t have any clue of how deep this was, I was thinking in my head, well, maybe it’s only like three foot deeper thing, and I didn’t want to drop them. So I lean forward, and all of a sudden, I’m going in the hole. And my wife is trying to grab a hold of me, my brother jumps up out of his chair, grabs me by the back of the pants, and lift me out of the hole. And I couldn’t think of anything else to say, but
Michael Hingson 45:43
there you go. You know? It is, we all have experiences, and it’s okay. Blindness has nothing to do with that. I doubt that there is any person who hasn’t had something in their lives that has happened that, that they haven’t been embarrassed over or found to be funny. I know, I was with one of my guide dogs, we were wandering the halls of Congress, and, and we had a few of those aromatic kinds of things that happened with her. And, and the more I thought about the more I went, Well, who was in Congress, they deserve it anyway. So it’s okay. But you know, you just got to go go to it. Well, so tell me, in your experience, we’ve we’ve been seeing more laws pass. And we’ve been seeing advances in technology and so on. Do you think that society’s attitudes toward persons with disabilities is is changing significantly yet? What what do you think?
Wayne Tuttle 46:51
Yes or no? And the reason I say yes, is, I’m finding that younger kids today, they get it. They understand. I’ve been in situations where you’d be in a grocery store with my guide dog, and a mother would come over and automatically think it’s okay to bend down and start paddling. And right away, the the young child would say, Oh, mommy, he’s a working dog, you’re not allowed to distract them or catch them or anything like that. So yes, I’ve seen some steps forward with getting kids at a younger age. And it takes people like yourself and myself to go around to schools and educate and really get the word out that there are people in our society today with disabilities. But on the other hand, I think governments really have to get more involved with people with disabilities, and the sense of having different type of programs available out there, there are still a lot of discrimination. When it comes to employment. If an individual with a disability wants to start their own business, they should have programs available out there to teach entrepreneurship. For people with disabilities. It’s really no different than any other entrepreneur but they have to do things a little bit different. So they can be involved with it. But again, I think we have a long way to go. In in Canada here. We’ve we’ve got all kinds of different laws, but every province seems to be different and unsure. It’s no different than in the United States. They are apart, trying to implement different laws to assist people with disabilities. But they still have a long, long way to go to they’re chipping away at it. But a lot of these people are living with disabilities. Time’s running out. Yeah. So what about the next generation that comes along after us? Like it’s despicable. The amount of money that the government puts aside for people with disabilities, with the inflation especially in the last couple of years, it’s on believable. So you have to make that choice, whether to pay your rent or whether you’re going to eat today.
Michael Hingson 49:43
Do you think that there’s any more awareness in the world because of the pandemic and the fact that we’ve had to do so many things online? Has that really made a big difference?
Wayne Tuttle 49:54
In some ways that has like every country is different especially when it comes to disabilities there, there are countries around our world that still want to hide people with disabilities. They’re not allowed to be out in public good, thick. They’ve shamed the family because of the disability.
Michael Hingson 50:16
And what happens in civilized countries to Oh, yeah, yes, absolutely.
Michael Hingson 50:21
You know, last year, I began working with accessibe, which is a company that makes websites for the products to make websites more usable and accessible, and the company has grown a lot over the last year. But we find that even though it can be pretty inexpensive to start the process, the reality is that a lot of people are going well, yeah, maybe I need to do it. But I really can’t do it right now, or I just don’t have any money to, to put into this kind of a project, or it’s just not something that I think we really need to worry about. And it’s so unfortunate that, at the same time, those people provide electric lights for everyone in their offices, they provide coffee machines, they provide computers, and a lot of other amenities. But when it comes to dealing with disabilities, or making their websites more inclusive, so that more people might shop at their sites and so on, they won’t do that.
Wayne Tuttle 51:30
And their mindset is that they have this assumption. Well, there’s just not enough of them out there. So we don’t have to do it. But guess what, if you do do it, that’s going to increase your bottom line. Because those 10 people who are now shopping on your website are going to go and tell 10 of their friends. And it’s just going to snowball even more, and then they’d be recognized that they are a fully accessible website,
Michael Hingson 52:06
one of the projects that accessibe is working on and it’s still not live yet, but hopefully it will be sometime in the near future is called Access find. What access find will be is a database of accessible websites, any website that has made the effort to become inclusive, not only for people who happen to be blind, but who have other disabilities will be able to put their website into the access fine database. And so it will be a central location where people with disabilities can go to find local or whatever websites they truly can search and whether the site uses accessibility or some other mechanism or company to make their website accessible isn’t the issue. The issue is that they’ve done it however they’ve done it and access fine. We’ll allow that to happen. We’re not there yet. It’s coming, though. And it’ll be very exciting. When that opens. It’s a it’s a great idea.
Wayne Tuttle 53:04
Yeah, it’s it’s something that is definitely needed. Because I think that that, again, our society lacks is is communication. There are all kinds of nonprofit organizations that are doing wonderful things. But the disabled community is not aware of it. So they need to spend more time and effort in shouting it out and say, Hey, everybody, this is new. This is what’s happening right now. But they don’t and
Michael Hingson 53:36
Neil’s the Nielsen Company, the company that does ratings and so on, used to do index and still does all the ratings for TV shows and so on the Nielsen rating did a study in 2016. And categorically states, that websites that become more inclusive, we’ll have brand loyalty that will very much carry over to persons with disabilities and people will shop those sites, rather than going through all the frustration of trying to find some other website that may or may not be inclusive for them. It’s it is something that is absolutely substantial. It’s something that can be verified. But we’re still not yet seeing nearly enough of our world really deal with that. And it’s all about still the same attitudes. That as you said, there aren’t enough of them or we really just don’t think that they can do it. Other people are going to do the shopping for them anyway. And it just isn’t the way it works. Yeah, exactly. Well, so tell me as a person who happens to be blind, what would you give in the way of advice to someone who is coming to terms with losing their eyesight, you meet someone, either a family member or whatever of someone who of becoming blind or you meet a person who is losing their eyesight and becoming blind, what would you say to them?
Wayne Tuttle 55:06
It to me, it’s a very personal aspect that they’re going through. Some people are fully sighted today and totally blind tomorrow, some people gradually lose their vision over time. So it comes down to being a personal thing. And my advice would basically be that go through that grieving process, because there is grief involved with any loss, especially when you’re losing your vision or your hearing or your mobility skills and the list goes on. But realize that your life has changed, you can still do pretty much the same things that you’ve always done. It’s just that you have to find new ways of achieving your goals. And that’s what it comes down to the sky’s the limit,
Michael Hingson 56:04
it still comes down to is not blindness. It’s our attitudes. And we need to be as forward looking in that as people who can see, because if our attitude is not a positive one about being blind, then we won’t be
Wayne Tuttle 56:19
absolutely can, we
Michael Hingson 56:21
will have the challenges. Well, Wayne, this has been fun. I really have enjoyed having you on unstoppable mindset. I hope you’ve liked it as well. Oh, my pleasure. And we will have to get together and swap more stories
Wayne Tuttle 56:37
but have to come come down to California?
Michael Hingson 56:40
Well, it is it was 97 Fahrenheit today. And according to my lovely little trusty Amazon device, we’re going to have an excessive heat warning on Thursday. So if 97 Isn’t excessive, that means it’s going to be over 100 Just what it really means. So I Interesting.
Wayne Tuttle 57:00
Well, where I come from, I’m very Northern Ontario. We are so far north, we literally wave to Santa Claus as we’re coming to this area. So we have had a couple of frost alerts the last few days.
Michael Hingson 57:20
Well as the big guy waved back.
Wayne Tuttle 57:24
I have no idea.
Michael Hingson 57:26
Well, then, you know, you need to put your communication skills to use and come up with a way that you guys can communicate better. Absolutely. Well, thanks for being on unstoppable mindset. If people want to reach out to you learn more about you and chat with you. How can they do that if they want to learn about your speaking career and so on?
Wayne Tuttle 57:45
Well, if you’d like to reach out, my email address would be my initials. So it would be a W J T dot tuttle. And that’s t u t t l e @gmail.com. Okay, I have a website that it’s still under construction. So I’m not sure when that will be up and running. But I will definitely let you know.
Michael Hingson 58:13
Well, let’s talk about accessibe going on the site to help you with access that makes it a lot easier for your website people to do. Absolutely. Well, meanwhile, everyone, thank you for joining us today. I’d love to hear what you think about this. As always, please reach out to me Michaelhi at accessibe.com. That’s M I C H A E L H I at A C C S S I B E.com. Or visit our podcast page, which is www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. Michael Hingson is M I C H A E L H I N G S O N WWW dot Michael hingson.com/podcasts. And of course, as I always ask, and I appreciate everyone who is doing it, please give us a five star rating. Wherever you’re listening to the podcast and join us regularly you can subscribe to our podcast wherever you are finding us. And we hope that you will do that and join us for other adventures and other future podcasts. And again, Wayne, I really appreciate your time and you being here with us today.
Wayne Tuttle 59:20
Thanks for having me, Michael.
Michael Hingson 59:25
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.