August 17, 2006
The August 17, 2006 episode of ABC World News Tonight featured Kenneth Adams, a patient at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Adams lost his sight when he was wounded while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. The news piece focused on the cutting-edge technology and new devices now available at VAMCs across the country to assist blind veterans with reading prescription labels, shopping, preparing meals, and even choosing matching clothes. The goal is to help these unique veterans enjoy more independent and safe lives. For more on this new technology, visit http://www.houston.med.va.gov/HOUSTON/pressreleases/News_20060109b.asp.
For more information about the VA's Visual Impairment Service Team Program, call 1-877-222-VETS or visit the VA's Blind Rehabilitation Service Web site at http://www1.va.gov/blindrehab/. Blind veterans living in Southeast Texas should call the MEDVAMC VIST Program at (713) 794- 7532.
ABC World News Tonight
Technology Gives 'Sight' to Blind Iraq Veterans
Bar Code Device Helps the Blind Find Household Items
By ERIN HAYES
KATY, Texas, Aug. 17, 2006 - For veterans blinded by bullets and bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new technology allows them to reclaim at least some of their everyday lives.
Kenny Adams was in Afghanistan for just six months when a fellow soldier was cleaning his gun and set it off. The bullet tore through Adams' skull and destroyed his eyes.
His wife, Katie Adams, said doctors gave him only "a couple of hours to live." But he's still alive, two years later.
"Nothing's going to stop him," she said.
With her help, Adams has learned to navigate an unfamiliar world, but he doesn't want his blindness to change how she views him.
"I married her to be my wife," he said, "not to be my mother."
Scanning for Clothes
Adams is one of thousands of blind veterans benefiting from progressive programs run by the Veterans Administration. The VA has given Adams a bar code scanner that allows him to search for items through voice technology.
Adams has a prescription reader and will soon have bar code labels sewn into his clothes so he can find shirts and pants in his closet.
Bill Johnson of the VA said this is one way of giving veterans the "ability to function more independently."
Adams expressed relief that with this gadget he won't have to ask his wife for as much help, which is important because they plan to have children.
Adams' wife said she is impressed by his progress
"I married a man who was very strong, and I've only seen him grow stronger since this injury," Katie Adams said. "He's a new person. Don't get me wrong. His injuries have changed him, so I'm learning to love this Kenny."
She joked that she now loves him "so much more," she "wouldn't take him with eyes now."
In her eyes, he's all there.
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