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Paul's Latest Blog - The Big Idea

iCAN experiences founder Paul Nicol embarks on his own personal blog, taking the readers on his journey from diagnosis of a sight losing disease through to the present day as he makes iCAN experiences a success in the midst of tough economic times.

 Hello and welcome once again to my blog. In the last 3 blog posts I’ve covered the diagnosis of my eye condition, my entry into independent living and on to the acceptance of a white cane and other such assistive aids.

From the age of 25, my eyesight was significantly diminished and over the next 2-3 years, it had deteriorated to the point of not even having any light and dark perception! The adaptive aids I began to use became a little more sophisticated as I began to use a portable electronic magnifier and then onto a scanner with some software on my computer that allowed me to scan and have a synthesised voice read the document to me. In addition I transferred from software that magnified my screen onto a pure screen reader with no magnification at all.

It's really strange, but as I write, I think back to my days as a Tech Support technician. The company I used to work for did some work for the Royal London Society for the Blind and one of the engineers described how one of the guys there would navigate a computer with the screen turned off and was completely comfortable with doing so. Back then I didn't know how quickly things would progress, but I recall thinking that I didn't ever think it would be possible for me, the mouse cursour after all was so fundamental! I have received no special training yet somehow, I sit here writing this blog with my laptop lid closed! Furthermore, I am completely at ease with using a computer and taking advantage of the multitude of resources and applications on the Internet.

I think it was at the age of 25 that I got involved with my first taste of a thrilling activity. Airkix, the indoor wind tunnel in Milton Keynes had opened and I wanted to give it a go! Sure enough, after some research by my wife, I was there experiencing the thrill of flying in a Wind Tunnel. This set the scene for things to come. I went on to try Sphereing or Zorbing, a Rally Drive Thrill, a Caterham passenger thrill, an Aerobatic flying lesson and much more! All of which had my wife doing the research to find out if it could be done, what the limitations might be and so on.

It was at around the age of 29 that the idea for iCAN experiences was born, I realised that there could be an easier way for people with visual impairments to get involved with and enjoy similar experiences. I did some initial research to understand the market a little, what was involved and the potential numbers. My wife and I talked about it and both agreed that it was a grand idea and if money allowed then I would have to give it a go and start my own business!

Well, as you can probably work out, I found myself in a situation where the money was available and I needed a new challenge with my working life. With an incredibly supportive wife at my side, I handed in my notice and put all of my efforts into creating iCAN experiences!

In the next blog, I will tell you about the most challenging thing I have ever done, that is climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in the world!

All the best,
Paul

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