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Make a wish

 Recently we received a visit from the Make a Wish Foundation, a charity that provides special experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses.

To map the contours of Asa’s “wish,” two women from the foundation quizzed him on his tastes, preferences, and ambitions. 

Asa's ambition is to be a pilot or a truck-driver.

Living the dream

Unfortunately, neither driving nor flying will be open to him as careers. In the UK, drivers have to have at least 6:12 vision (equivalent to reading a license plate at 20 metres). At present Asa’s vision is 3:60 in the right eye and 1:60 in the left. On this basis, he’s been certified as ‘Severely Visually Impaired.’ 

On some versions of the certificate those words are followed by “(Blind)”.

View from the London Eye. (What does it look like through Asa's?)

But blind he isn’t. 

The law defines these things liberally. While visual ability varies along a spectrum from species-optimal to complete absence of light perception, British law has only two categories of impairment: Impaired, and Severely Impaired. So Asa, with his very imperfect, but very useful vision, gets lumped with those who can’t see at all.

Yesterday, around dusk, Asa took his push-bike out for a spin behind our apartment block. 

Nobody who saw him trundling gaily back and forth would have taken him for blind.

In solidarity with Asa and others with this disease, in September-October I will be walking -- not flying or driving -- in Africa to raise money for eye cancer. [2]

For more information, or to sponsor us, please visit Life and Sight for Ethiopia.



[1] The DVLA also requires a field of vision extending 120-degrees horizontally and 40-degrees vertically. That’s problematic for people with retinoblastoma, since tumours often create significant blind spots.

[2] There's more information on the the eye-cancer initiative I've been involved with in Ethiopia here and here.


  1. Good show, Asa! I'm really happy he enjoys riding his bike. I'm sure there is a whole lot of stuff he can and will do that will continue to impress us. Thanks for the uplifting post.
    Cheers, Johnny

  2. Thanks, Johnny! Granddad Clive, a keen pilot himself, had this encouraging comment: "Asa will never be able to be a [full] pilot; but he can learn to fly (if he wishes) and can get a restricted licence (which means that he will need a "safety pilot" instructor with him). That can be fun, and [he could] fully control the plane."

  3. I never thought it would happen, but for my 1st Father's Day this year I got an introductory flight lesson. Basically no touching the controls during taxi, takeoff and landing... but hands on flying for the half hour we were up in the air. Eliz booked an instructor w/ Piper PA-28 Cherokee out of Santa Monica Airport. Getting the full license is prohibitively expensive ($8,500 to $10,000) but maybe down the road I'll work towards it. Too bad I never got a chance to go up w/ Uncle Clive. Still have his book on Flight and on Kites. Cheers!

  4. Asa would be envious! Rob (Clive's third son, who lives in Western Australia) has a license, and has offered to take Asa flying -- something we'll hope to arrange if ever we have the chance to visit. I have good memories of flying with Clive when I was a boy.
    Hey, at least we all have the opportunity to fly *kites*... which may be the closest we get to being pilots for a while:)


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