New York, New York — Yvonne Felix’s Experience in the Big City

eSight snapshot/Yvonne Felix

For a person with low vision, navigating through a city of more than eight-million people seems like a daunting — if not impossible — task. But, during Yvonne’s stay in NYC, she always knew exactly where she was. In fact, she felt more at home than ever before — she said her dreams of New York transcended to reality, and using eSight, she could see every detail of the city.

The eSight team visited the Big Apple last week so people with visual impairments in the States could have pairs of their own. But, Yvonne had never been to NYC before, so she took the opportunity to roam what has become one of her favourite cities.

She says because the city is grid-like, it was very easy for her to get around; when a stranger on the street told her the deli was two blocks west, that is exactly where it was. She also found New York is organized by theme, so she knew what to expect when she visited a certain area of the city — SoHo is for shopping, whereas Museum Mile, as its name suggests, is where the museums are. New York’s massive landmarks — such as the LOVE sculpture and Empire State Building in Manhattan — made the city very predictable for her.

However familiar the city felt to Yvonne, who’s a visual artist, there was one experience that was definitely new — seeing legendary pieces of artwork for the first time during her visit to the Museum of Modern Art.

eSight snapshot/Yvonne Felix

Yvonne was overwhelmed by Henri Matisse’s massive pieces of art that take up the entirety of the museum’s 30-foot walls, and she “couldn’t even swallow” when she saw Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.” But, seeing “The Starry Night” up close with eSight allowed her to speculate something about Vincent van Gogh — she recognized that his painting techniques are similar to hers, so Yvonne thinks he may not have been just colour blind but also legally blind.

“The Starry Night”/Vincent van Gogh

By zooming in onto the painting, she saw that his strokes are each the width of a finger and the strokes trailed off without any bristle prints, which leads her to think he used mostly his fingers to paint the work. Yvonne uses this technique to paint, as she feels a brush causes a disconnection between her and the canvas.

While navigating the city, many people were curious about her glasses, but none of them pitied her when they found out what the glasses do — in fact, she says she felt very much like a New Yorker, as they applauded her for staying positive and taking control of her own life by using technology.

This open-mindedness is something that Yvonne felt made the people in New York receptive to trying out the glasses — from the teenaged boy, who realized he could learn to read once he owned a pair, to the 98-year-old woman, who re-learned to read while wearing the glasses for just over half an hour.

Yvonne felt they had the same energy as when she first tried on the glasses — the willingness to adapt, knowing that positive changes and new, exciting experiences are ahead.

Yvonne Felix is an eSight Ambassador and has been legally blind since childhood due to Stargardts, a juvenile form of Macular Degeneration.

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