In 2010, just two months into Rob Long’s first tour of Afghanistan, an Improvised Explosive Device ripped his life apart.
He was 23-years-old.
One eye was destroyed immediately and the other so badly damaged it later had to be removed in hospital. Rob had never wanted to do anything else but serve his country. The loss of his sight not only stole away the career he loved, it shattered his confidence and sense of who he was.
“Everything was pitch black. I thought I’d have to live in care and rely on other people for everything. I had an overwhelming sense of sadness. It felt like my life was over.”Blind veteran, Rob Long
Today, nearly ten years later, Rob is thriving.
Showing extraordinary determination, he is not only leading an independent life, but also a devoted father to two children.
The rapid development of smart technologies means that today blind veterans can do things that, even 10 years ago, would have seemed like an impossible dream.
Smartphones come with voice-commands software built in – you can tell them what you want them to do for you. This allows blind veterans who have no vision at all, like Rob, to use a combination of voice commands and screen taps to write emails or letters, search the internet, and engage with social media. There are also text reader apps available that can ‘read on the go’ – you hold your screen over a piece of text like a newspaper, restaurant menu or train timetable, and your phone will read it aloud to you!
I’m sure you can imagine the world of difference these technologies have made to Rob, who feared he might become cut off from the world after he lost his sight.