Blind IT Instructor, “See me first as a person who is blind and not as a blind person.”
Information Technology (IT) is his passion, and at his job with the Trinidad & Tobago Blind Welfare Association, Kerryn Gunness gets to do what he loves every day. He is an IT instructor, teaching the visually impaired how to use various forms of technology. Be it computers, mobile phones or tablets, Kerryn is the Assistive Technology expert on the team, teaching children and adults how their daily needs and activities can be enhanced by technology.
He is sought out to test websites and apps for accessibility and is the go-to person for the blind and visually-impaired in his community who need assistance with simple technology tasks. He sometimes also travels to other Caribbean islands to facilitate workshops in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. Kerryn admits that helping the blind brings him joy and gives his life immense purpose.
A resident of Trinidad and Tobago, Kerryn was born with optical nerve atrophy and is legally blind. This, however, has not prevented him from pursuing his passion. Through continuous learning, he is keeping up-to-date with the constant changes in technology and using that knowledge every day to benefit the blind community in Trinidad. He fervently believes they can be productive members of society if given access to relevant technology, and he is proof of this. The Trinidad & Tobago Blind Welfare Association is the main employer of people who are blind and of low-vision. There are very few employed in the private and public sectors which Kerryn attributes to a lack of awareness among potential employers. “A person who is blind will most likely work harder than some sighted persons,” he said, “because they know it will be difficult to find another job so their dedication is almost certain.”
Too many misconceptions still exist about the capabilities of blind people. Kerryn confidently pointed out that a blind person can effortlessly host Zoom meetings, enter and exit its breakout rooms and navigate shopping and booking websites; can prepare PowerPoint slides from start to finish and make presentations. Admittedly, these are made possible by accessible technologies, but he believes too many people, at the outset, immediately think a person who is blind is incapable of doing things the sighted can. Kerryn shared there are times when he is typing a document and someone will ask him if he is sure it is being done correctly. He takes no offense, but instead views such a question as an opportunity to have an awareness conversation with the hope that at least one additional person will have realized that yes, a blind person can type an error-free document. He teaches his clients that they should not be afraid to make mistakes, but be confident that mistakes can be corrected.
He believes a lot more should be done for the blind in Trinidad and Tobago but is pleased that the Government is taking steps to help, such as the recent change to textured polymer bank notes, making it easier for the visually-impaired to identify their money without assistance. He is glad that some local websites are accessible. Many others are not but he admits that things are improving on his island.
Thanks to technology, limitations, to Kerryn, are few. In addition to his laptop, necessary screen reading software, his smart watch, phone and apps, he attributes his confidence today to the people he is fortunate to have in his life. He attended mainstream school and teachers, principal and friends were very supportive. Today, co-workers and friends continue to have a positive, confidence-boosting effect on his life. Central to all of this is his tight-knit family, who has, since birth remained his greatest allies, source of strength and on-going encouragement. Through the years, they have supported his efforts to further educate himself and continues to stand by his side as he reaches for the stars. Kerryn is considered to be a huge inspiration to others and gracefully accepts this accolade. He is thrilled to have an opportunity every day to make a difference in someone’s life through technology.
Although IT is where the bulk of his interests lie, Kerryn also enjoys listening to audio books, playing card and word games online, is an avid sports fan and plays goalball with team mates on the island. He has a keen interest in airplanes and loves to travel. His enthusiasm for life results in positive connections and with an ever-expanding network, Kerryn is eager to learn the new technologies that are coming on stream. There are so many people to teach, and lives to enhance with the advancements that are being made.
His eyes are set on enrolling in website accessibility courses, so he is on a pursuit to find the most suitable.
Kerryn can be contacted:
By phone/What’s App: 868-397-5307
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
He will happy to connect with you.