This week, we got to know about the journey of Leo Bissonnette from Montreal, Canada, a pro-bono consultant for students and a Doctor in Education Technology. Leo used to work as an office manager for students with disability in a university and was a teacher in the department of Sociology in Concordia University as well. The user in the spotlight this week, Leo, was born with a condition called scarring of the retina, which meant low vision. In addition to this, he developed cataract which worsened his visual impairment.
A photo of Leo Bissonnette.
What does your typical day look like?
During the day, I’m mostly busy at the office. I used to commute by train with my guide dogs but now my wife drives me downtown.
What is the biggest hurdle that limits you?
To read any piece of text or write independently is the biggest hurdle in my view. I had to use scanners or get people to read things out to me. This delayed my pursuit of doctoral studies but I’m glad I managed to finish my doctorate. I'm happy to help my students learn ways to read and write.
In which instances do you use Envision in your daily life?
I use it to read a lot of text and scan barcodes. I can even identify faces with this app.
We recently moved to a new house and I extensively used Envision to describe the scene to me while getting acquainted with the new surrounding. It was also very handy while setting up my office space and it truly made a difference.
How did you do these tasks before using Envision?
Most of the times, I was dependent on my wife to help me.
How has Envision impacted your life?
It has given me the independence to access things, on my own terms. I no longer have to wait for someone to help me and that itself is empowering.
What do you like the most about Envision?
I like how simple yet powerful the app is. Envision makes me feel liberated.
What is the one thing that you wish sighted people understood about living with visual impairment?
There is a lack of understanding and empathy. Often, the ability to read a document is taken for granted. Handing out document in the meeting instead of sharing it earlier isn’t helpful to me. In these instances, I can sense their disregard.
What is a life hack you swear by?
I am not afraid of technology as I believe it as an empowering tool. I play with any new tech and discover what might be useful. Technology gives you access to life in a unique way. One needs to be curious and patient.
'Life is not always a bowl of cherries', is a philosophy Leo relates to from the movie Forrest Gump.
We admire his attitude and wish him the best.