From listening to the upbeat radio personality on Y96 FM, most wouldn't realize Danny Wayne (Beemer) has been handicapped since birth.
Addressing the fifth-graders at Meridian Elementary School as part of Disability Awareness Month, Beemer described what it's like to be visually impaired and how he uses specialized equipment to live a normal life.
Beemer was born with glaucoma, a disease which destroys the optic nerve. He only has 3 percent vision from his right eye. The other is a prosthesis. He can't see details, but can make out shadows of people standing nearby.
After asking the students to close their eyes to imagine what life is like for those who are visually impaired, he showed the group some of the devices he uses that make everyday life easier. He pressed a button on a talking keychain watch to get the time and then pressed numbers on a calculator that blurted out the figures, and the students were impressed.
"This is a pair of eyes for me," Beemer said, holding up a camcorder-looking devise. "I can actually see with this." The camera zooms so he can enjoy concerts.
The adaptive equipment helps him to rely less on others throughout his day. As well as working at the radio station, Beemer also works as a media specialist at the Wabash Valley Independent Living and Learning Center, Inc., Terre Haute, where he helps other handicapped individuals find resources in the community.
Computers are a vital part of his work routine. Without advances in technology, he'd be unable to operate one, he said.
Jennifer Snoddy, Clay Community Schools software training specialist, demonstrated computer programs used by Beemer as well as some Clay Community school students. On a large projector screen, students watched the words typed automatically by a voice recognition software as Snoddy spoke through a microphone headset. Also, on the computer monitors, students could see enlarged print for those with less drastic vision loss to recognize. Some of the programs talk, guiding users through what they've done and what they are about to do on the computer.
"This is what I use everyday -- I want to be just like you and write e-mail and work on the computer," Beemer said.
The software costs $595, but without it, visually impaired people couldn't surf the Web, write and receive e-mail or do other activities on the computer.
"If I didn't have it, I couldn't do my job," Beemer said, reminding the students he has two jobs. "And, I love what I do."