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Across two Novembers: An Interview with a Blind Bibliophile

Categories: Authors for Access, Blind or Visually Impaired

By David L. Faucheux, Lily Mordaunt, and Kristen Witucki

At Learning Ally, we are constantly sharing news of our members with each other and our BVI Specialist, Mary, shared a particularly interesting story about a published author named David Fauchoux. David authored Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile, sharing his experience as a person born with cataracts and limited vision. We decided to call David and set up an interview. The interview went something like this......

Lily Mordaunt: Can you describe your visual impairment and how it influenced the idea for this book?

David Fauchoux: My visual impairment influenced both my life and my book. I was born with cataracts. Surgery was done soon after with the hope of helping me to have useable vision. While usable, my vision was never going to let me read print very well. At about age 11, I developed secondary glaucoma. I continued to lose vision and to cope with this loss. It has directly or indirectly caused several health concerns in which I must deal with even today. I do speak of this in my journal.

I suspect that vision or its loss was a major factor in my love of books. Books saw for me, took me places, and entertained me when I was home from the school for the blind during summer vacations.

Because I have not had a traditional work history, I was at my wit's end. A friend asked me to review her recently published journal and the rest was history. I thought I could write something similar and I did. I hope that while I share through my journal my love of audio and braille books, I also convey to the reader a bit of my life and of my trying to come to terms with these challenges. I wish my story had been one of those tales such as that told in a recent book by a blind lawyer/businessman or an earlier orological book by a noteworthy blind rock-jock. But we must work with the cards we are dealt as best as we can. This journal was my salute to books, to libraries, and a way to say thank-you to the many authors, narrators (NLS, commercial, and volunteer), and support staff who made possible the audio and braille books that have helped me structure my world.

Lily: What aspects of Lafayette makes it home for you, and how did it influence the year you chronicled?

David: Lafayette is where I have lived for nearly 25 years. I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana in January 1992, to take a parttime job teaching braille to deaf-blind individuals. I eventually left this position to pursue a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. I returned to Lafayette where I had several church friends. Family lived an hour away. If Lafayette can be said to have influenced my book, it would have to be because of its love of food. This love I also share.

Note the many mentions of local restaurants and even a food-related radio program hosted by the Lafayette Food Junkie.

Lily: What was inspirational or memorable about the time period you chose for your book?

David: Well, I just decided to write and I started on November 16, 2013 and finished on November 15, 2014. It's simply how it turned out. I thought about bringing it up to December 31 but decided not to. The project was starting to become unwieldy. I suppose I could have written something covering a month or even a day. I reference in my epilog two books that did this very thing.

Lily: What is the hardest part of being visually impaired or blind?

David: I wish I could tell you that in the 21st century, there is nothing to it. I have observed changes in my lifetime. I used a slate and stylus, four-track tape player/recorder, and electric typewriter as an undergrad in college. In graduate school, I had a braille notetaking device, talking computer, braille printer, scanner, and basic email. It was amazing how truly incredible this was. To have a good way to take notes—no tapping laboriously on a slate even using grade 3-no playing back a tape player trying to listen to a lecture through assorted noises and coughing, and to email professors to introduce myself even before my courses started. Now, I enjoy many book resources that are only a download away. No shipping free matter or UPS as then.

The iPhone has made many things including travel much easier. Glasses exist now that provide a virtual assistant and guide. But still, for me, the hardest thing is simply trying to find a niche—a lucrative one—and trying to figure out how to handle several health issues. Top-flight medical consultations and concierge physicians cost! The mechanisms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome are still incompletely understood. The intersection of Fibromyalgia and blindness is in desperate need of a scientific traffic signal, audible or not.

I also hope to live long enough to experience a true inversion of the unemployment and employment figures. As best as I can tell the unemployment figures run from 68% to 80% unemployment. This would imply an employment rate of from 20% to 32% with a majority of the employed being underemployed. Do we live in a world where there is a well-employed tenth, even after so many years of advocacy by our several consumer organizations? During the Great Depression, unemployment figures were said to be 25%. Have many blind people been living in a version of The Great Depression?

Lily: What are your goals for the future?

David: Simply to continue to find purpose and meaning.

Possibly after promoting this book, to write a short story or flash fiction series or to research a Canary Island ancestor or write about working on my health issues.

Lily: What message do you hope your book will impart to readers?

David: I want people to read my book and realize that blind people have the same dreams, desires, thoughts, aspirations, and challenges as others do. Blindness, while a challenge, is less so than are the general attitudes of the fully sighted population. While it may not be “normal” to be blind, it should be okay. To paraphrase a famous bit of English literature: Hath not a blind person's hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? ... If you prick us, do we not bleed? I'd add, if you marginalize us, do you not suffer for the potential you discard?

Photo of David Faucheux

To learn more about David and his book, visit www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/