Student Overcomes Blindness to Study Computer Programming

By Webb, Shelby | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, September 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

Student Overcomes Blindness to Study Computer Programming


Webb, Shelby, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


Michael Griffin, 37, whose eyesight is blurred due to juvenile macular degeneration, looks at a magnified computer screen in Bradenton, Fla. on Sept. 10. (Nick Adams/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Michael Griffin knew he could no longer pretend his eyes were fine after he failed the vision test required to renew his driver's license.

He was 24, and doctors had told him 10 years earlier he had juvenile macular degeneration, a condition that can progress over years until causing partial or complete blindness.

He did not tell anyone about the diagnosis -- not even his family.

"I was embarrassed to say I couldn't see," said Griffin, 37. "Looking back I wish I would have said something. I probably would have started college a lot earlier if I had the help I needed."

Now, about 13 years after he was denied his license, Griffin is working toward an associate's degree in computer programming at the State College of Florida, with the hope of attending a four-year university and creating applications to help others with visual impairment.

Earlier this summer, he was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the American Council of the Blind and $500 from the council's Sarasota chapter.

Griffin does not use a cane or a guide dog. He can see, but his vision is blurred. He can see outlines of people walking down hallways and blurred images of letters marking buildings.

He zooms in so close on computer screens that he sees one word at a time. When he scrolls through his iPhone, his face hovers centimeters over the extra-large letters on the screen. …

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