The Age of Ignorance: Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was like for someone with visual impairments
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
By: Christopher Childs, CIO and Kelsey Hogan, President & CEO
Christopher Childs, CIO and part-owner of Yellow Rose Consulting, recounts his experiences growing up during an age of America that assumed all children learned the same, functioned the same, and never differentiated from the norm. However, his learning difficulties presented themselves early and were exacerbated by his environment, lack of understanding, and lack of tools to assist him with his disability.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have the support that is out there at this point in time  for my vision problems.” He continues, “I developed my own alphabet [due to my undiagnosed vision issues and used it to write] until I was in the third grade, and then I had to ‘unlearn’ my alphabet in order to learn to ‘rank up’ [by learning the correct letters] because I was seeing the [standard] alphabet for the first time with glasses.”
He goes on to reminisce about the conflict [he faced, as did many] prior to the age of modern technology, “One of the main things that I remember growing up was the fact that my dad wanted me to learn how to spell by looking things up in the dictionary. Remember, [there was] no ‘Internet’, [no instant search engines], no voice recognition [tools], and no true support [for] somebody that has a profound vision issue.”
He recounts a vivid memory, that has stuck with him today, “One of my [re-occurring] nightmares - that I [can still] remember having [, was approaching my father and asking him how] to spell [a new] word and his answer was [always,] ‘go look it up in the dictionary’. It’s hard to look up a word, [in a thick book with small print,] that you have no idea how [the spelling] starts and sometimes even if you have an idea [on how the word might be spelled] it’s wrong. [My] point are [words] that [might] have a ‘PH’ [spelling] that sound[s] like the phonetic ‘F’.”
Today, he speaks on his role in the company, and how his experiences propel him forwards, “[My primary] goals [in starting and working for our] company, is to provide a platform for people to be able to bridge the gap. [Most clients have a gap that is] between what resources they need in order to compete [in the current market] and what resources they have in order to compete [in the current market].”
Yellow Rose Consulting wants to break the barriers to the humanization of company to client communication, we recognize legal or regulatory issues, current mandatory restrictions from the pandemic, etc.; therefore, focusing on honesty and effective communication, as well as the capability to provide all clients a similar experience. “I am not trying to provide a level above anything else, I’m [aiming] to provide a level playing field for people that are experiencing similar issues that I had growing up,” he states.
He points out that, “[What Yellow Rose Consulting is] trying to [help others understand], is that making a document ‘accessible’ does not mean that it’s ‘readable’. [After opening a document,] hearing a bunch of words can be part of the solution, but having the words structured for somebody [who does have vision impairment means that] reading [the document accurately] is the solution. If there is a title on a page, if there are [multiple] paragraphs, if there are breaks in the content; all of those variants need to be [planned for] so that when a software package is read out-loud to someone with visual difficulties, it will read the [document to the individual in the] same way as somebody who has normal vision can view the document.”