Shared by Karen Gourgey
Advent, especially for children is a time of expectation, expectation of what, we don’t know, but it’s fascinating, a little mysterious, and even for adults, in our heart of hearts, are we maybe still looking for something magic, a miracle, something that will change things and make everything good. But what if that “miracle”, or at least its mustard seed, is closer than we think.
Full disclosure, I’m totally blind, and as a program director, I’ve had a reasonablely-sized office, (to be truthful, I’ve been in that office for the past 23 years). And, the shelves across from my large u-shaped desk hint at our history and do include some awards I’ve received over the years.
So, two weeks ago, I wrote to the Chief Accessibility Officer of a very substantial corporation in Redmond, WA, and invited her to keynote our annual conference in April 2018. It turns out they have a process for people who are sending such invites, so I dutifully filled out their questionnaire.The final question asked whether we had had any previous collaboration with the corporation. I wracked my brain thinking back over the past 5 or 7 years, and eventually, I had to say no.
Exactly one week after I made the submission, I was visited by a colleague now a salesman for a simple but astounding new product called AIRA.
It’s an iPhone app combined with Google type glasses, with their tiny video camera and a trained agent. As a blind person, you essentially call up the agent, and the agent answers any question you might have. So my salesman colleague asked the agent to describe what she saw around my office. She said, “Wow, I see a lot of awards; there’s a really nice, I think it’s a globe;” and she asked me to move it, so she could get a better view. My heart must have skipped about 30 beats, because I immediately connected with what she was talking about. I had completely forgotten about a beautiful little globe that’s been sitting on my shelf since 2005. It was an award that Microsoft had given to us and a partner organization, for an invention known as the “Talking Tactile Tablet.
The globe says “Technology Benefitting Humanity”. Although the Tablet was patented in 2006, it was soon superceded by a new piece of tech that accomplished the same objective more cheaply and efficiently. I had stopped valuing it, because of this change. Our partners stopped manufacturing it.
At least two lessons stay with me from all this, and I believe they apply to people whether we have physical sight or not. First, we get so caught up in the things of the moment, the here and now , that we forget gifts that might be within us that might be useful in ways we never dreamed.
Second, I devalued and practically disowned all that work that went into the Talking Tactile Tablet and the concepts behind it. Those concepts were given a huge step forward because of our work and they are continually being used today.
So, during Advent, maybe I need to pay a lot more attention to the gifts I might have to offer that I may have cast aside or stopped valuing and being grateful for.
Here is a picture of the globe: