Technology on the Job #2

Technology on the Job #2

Learn how a powerful real estate agent uses a video magnifier to make sure his clients get the best deals.

Eric Fisher was living his dream in Germany with a successful jet-setting career in corporate training when he was diagnosed with an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa in his 30's. At the time, Eric didn't take his condition very seriously.

"To me, I was basically told when you're 180 years old, you run the risk of losing your eyesight, and I was fine with that," he recalls. "I had that typical male ego, 'nothing can stop me now'-type thought process."

But when Eric woke up on a Sunday morning a decade or so later, he realized the unfortunate scope of his condition. Virtually overnight, his sight was almost totally gone, and it triggered a major change in his circumstances. He was let go from his job in Germany, he had to give up most of his hobbies, and he had no idea how to progress in his life. He felt bereft and desolate, unsure of how to live as a disabled person. "I tanked exceptionally fast," he says. "Emotionally and physically. It was a terrible six months."

However, that's all changed. Today, Eric is a very successful real estate agent in Boca Raton. He's one of the only agents in Florida who came to the career after experiencing adult-onset eye disease, and he's proud of what he's been able to achieve. He attributes a major part of his success to the equipment that Florida Vision Technology has supplied him with over the years, which includes the Explore 5 handheld magnifier and the Reveal 16i digital magnifier. Eric says he uses his equipment every single day, so much so that he feels like he was born with it.

"When you start to use the equipment, it starts to feel like a part of you," he says. "I can't imagine being without it. It's like driving a car, you don't think about pressing the gas to accelerate, you just do it. It becomes a natural part of your life."

When Eric was attending Florida Atlantic University to get his degree in the years following the rapid onset of his condition, he sometimes butted heads with the school's management in order to get the treatment he needed. The first time he entered FAU's cafeteria, he discovered that the layout of the room required him to walk through a maze of tables and students to get to an appropriate space. He ended up meeting with the university's president the same day to get this resolved. "I can be pretty persuasive," he says, with a laugh. "I let them have it."

This treatment made him feel cynical about the way that large institutions accommodate the needs of visually-impaired people. He often found that he was treated in a patronizing manner. However, when the Department of Blind Services referred him to Florida Vision Technology, he began to feel much more hopeful about his condition. Instead of putting him on a pedestal or smothering him with pity, Eric says that the staff at FVT made him feel whole again.

"I wanted empathy, not sympathy," Eric says. "That's what they gave me. I went in with a pessimistic attitude, but then I met a staff member there who has my same condition, and he's happy. I didn't understand how he could be happy. It really slapped me in the face and set me straight...They gave me some normalcy, and that's really what I needed."

Eric says he relies on his Reveal 16i to do his job every day. The device magnifies text and can  read out the attributes of each house he sells to him, from the lot size to the address. He can save and review those documents anywhere he goes, which helps with on-site visits to the homes he sells. 

Since he can't always discern the physical details of a house in person, he often relies on the comments that others have left on online listings to better assist his buyers. The Reveal 16i allows him to easily pull up those listings when he needs to. When his eyes feel strained, the 16i's text-to-speech function helps him do his job without giving him a headache.

He uses his handheld Explore 5 for spot reading: to examine the newspaper at home and menus when he goes out to restaurants, which he says is a major convenience. Since it easily fits in his pocket, it's not a burden to carry around. It also allows him to view price tags, labels, receipts, and other small text with relatively little effort.

As a whole, Eric has now become accustomed to his life as a visually-impaired person. Though he says that you never "get over" your disability, he says that the equipment helps him maintain his quality-of-life, from his career to his hobbies, and he credits FVT for that. 

"I remember sitting with my grandmother one day when I was about four years old, and I spilled some milk, and I started crying," he says. "She said to me, 'you can either clean up the milk and move on, or you can keep crying and sour just like the milk.' Florida Vision Technology made me realize that I was letting myself sour.  I don't think I would've been able to get out of my own way without them. I feel more independent, more confident, and more at peace. It filled a hole for me."

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