Family works with CNIB to bring books to 60 people
Photo at left, Logan Williams loves the audio book reader he received from the CNIB recently. Photo at right, Ivor Jackson. Photo at left by Danette Dooley/Special to the Telegram and photo at right submitted
A family's generous donation in memory of their loved one has provided dozens of Newfoundland children and adults with vision loss a better way to read.
Before he passed away in St. John's March 28, 2008, Ivor Jackson suffered from macular degenerative eye disease for many years.
For the last few years of his life, the 88-year-old enjoyed DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) audio books, says his niece, Patricia Jackson.
"So we thought, wouldn't it be good to donate a few DAISY machines to the CNIB, and it kind of snowballed from there," she says.
Unlike a regular CD player, a DAISY player remembers where the listener paused and picks up where it left off when the player is restarted.
Jackson family members began donating money towards the players, and an anonymous foundation kicked in as well.
"It ended up coming to $30,000, which was enough to purchase 60 DAISY machines," Jackson says.
Ivor's brother, Lin Jackson, and his wife Marion joined Patricia at the CNIB recently where they met five-year-old Logan Williams and his parents Tina and Corey.
The Bay Bulls child from is one of 30 children now benefitting from the Jackson family's donation.
Taking a seat next to his mother, the red-headed boy peers out through attractive wire-rimmed glasses, ready to answer a few questions.
As animated as he is articulate, Logan is soon listing off some of the things he likes to do.
Top on his list is caring for his pets.
"I got a cat named Mark and guinea pig named Lightning. Lighting likes to chew on stuff. Mark, well, he likes going to bed with me. And I'm going to be in the newspaper," Logan says, hardly stopping to take a breath.
Several months after Logan's birth, his parents noticed the infant was having trouble focusing. The baby's rapid and uncontrollable eye movement has been diagnosed as congenital nystagmus.
Logan was fitted with glasses shortly after his second birthday. His new DAISY will help him a great deal not only in school but also at home, his parents say.
"When he's reading in school, the print is so tiny and even the books that he orders now … we have to read them to him," Tina says.
The DAISY will give their son the independence all children and youth should have, Corey says.
"For Logan to be able to go off to his room and sit down and read a book by himself rather than have Mom or Dad read it for him is really going to help him," Corey says.
Tina and Corey say they're grateful to the CNIB and the Jackson family for providing their son with a DAISY, which costs about $500.
"We recently got Logan new glasses with prisms and they were really expensive, so there's no way we would have been able to afford to go out and buy him a DAISY," Tina says.
"Logan is very outgoing. We don't want anything to hold him back. With his CD player and the CNIB, everything is there for him if and when we need it. And that's a big relief," Corey adds.
Debbie Ryan, CNIB provincial manager of communications says, thanks to the Jackson family's donation there's no longer a wait list for DAISY players.
"They've gone all over Newfoundland and Labrador - everywhere from St. John's to Port aux Basques to Labrador," Ryan says.
The players will be especially helpful to seniors with deteriorating eye diseases, she says.
"Everyday reading material (including newspapers and magazines) that fully sighted people take for granted, these CD players can deliver to someone who is blind or doesn't see quite as well as other people," Ryan says.
After Logan has finished answering some questions, he demonstrates how his new DAISY works.
After inserting a CD, he begins pressing buttons to start the player.
With all eyes in the room focused on him, his hand actions are quicker than they'd normally be.
When it's time to take his photo, his facial expressions are also exaggerated.
"Ivor was involved in amateur acting right up till the last years of his life and loved it," Patricia says, watching Logan ham it up for the camera.
Lin says it feels good to give back to the CNIB.
The organization supported his brother for many years, he says, going on to talk briefly about his brother's lifelong passion for the stage.
"It looks like Logan is a little actor," too," he says.
"Ivor would have been absolutely delighted to witness this. We couldn't have brought a more appropriate gift."
For further information on the CNIB visit email@example.com
About Ivor Jackson
Born in Brigus in 1919, as a young man, Ivor became involved in amateur theatre with the St. John's Players.
An eyesight problem prevented him from signing up for the Second World War. However, he contributed to the war effort by bringing plays and entertainment to servicemen at local bases,
Ivor left Newfoundland in 1949 to embark on a theatre career on the mainland.
He worked at the Ottawa Repertory Theatre, with Christopher Plummer and others.
At $25 a week he decided he needed a proper day job.
He went to Toronto and joined the Robert Simpson Co., as advertising artist.
He designed the Globe & Mail daily fashion page for over 30 years, while making a name for himself as an amateur actor in Toronto.
Ivor's interest in South America saw him spending holidays in Guatemala, Peru and Mexico.
In the 1980's, he discovered Ajijic. The fishing village near Guadalajara, became his second home.
He helped found the Lakeside Theatre in Ajijic and starred in many of its productions.
After retirement, Ivor split his time between Toronto and Ajijic.
Deteriorating eyesight and other problems made him increasingly less active, both in acting and travel. In 2006 he moved back to St. John's and spent the last two years of his life living at Cambridge Estates.