THE LIONS CHANGED MY LIFE Blind since birth, Philip Roach hasn’t had it easy. So when the Hixon Lions Club in Tennessee offered Roach and his wife, Louise, the occasional trip to the doctor, the Knoxville native was always appreciative. “Phil and Louise are such grateful people,” says Hixon Lion Marilyn Lampe. “They’re the exact reason our club continues to do what it does. As a matter of fact, we want to make him an honorary member of our club.” Fast-forward 15 years, countless Christmas gift baskets and a handful of lifelong friendships, and the sentiment still rings true—but the recent gift of a text-to-speech PC with some high-tech tricks inspired Roach to attend a meeting and thank his friends in person. “I know the Lions motto is ‘We Serve,’” says Roach. “And boy, do they ever.” Q&A: Philip Roach LION Magazine: Was meeting the Hixon club your first experience with Lions? Philip Roach: No, not at all. I’m from Knoxville originally, and I was familiar with Lions in that area ever since elementary school. I remember the Lions giving $10 to the students who did well in school, and I remember thinking, “Wow, these people are great!” I graduated from the Tennessee School for the Blind in 1972, and after that I went to several meetings and luncheons with clubs around Knoxville. They were kind and generous people—every one of them. LM: And Hixon Lions were the same? How have they helped? PR: Oh, absolutely. They’re the best people you could ask for. Louise and I moved here in the early 1990s, and we got to know the club real well. The Lampes are good friends, and the club has never been shy about giving us a ride here or there, for a health checkup or a hearing test or such. At Christmas the club always delivers a food basket with little treats in there to let us know they care. I love my instant coffee and my instant tea, and they’ll sneak a ham or some turkey in there, too. There’s always a treat. LM: So, what’s JAWS? How’s life different with it? PR: Job Access With Speech. It’s a screen reader that uses text-to-speech or a Braille display so that the blind can read and interact with a text or a document on a computer. The Hixon club gave me one awhile back, and it’s been a great help. Before I got JAWS, I didn’t have a PC, period. I was strictly a Braille person. I remember using a typewriter. It required so much concentration to mentally envision and keep track of what you’re writing. Now I type a letter, a paragraph or a whole document, and it’ll tell me what I wrote. I received my PC certification from Hadley School for the Blind last year, and now I’m doing more some more technical things with JAWS. LM: Such as …? PR: JAWS isn’t only a reader. You can use it to make scripts for other programs. It’s a bit hard to explain, but with JAWS, a user can change the amount or the type of information that’s relayed from a computer application to that application’s user. For instance, some programs don’t use normal Windows controls, which JAWS needs. Using JAWS to create scripts for these different controls, I can make those programs usable through JAWS, and eventually, other JAWS users can take advantage of those scripts, too. LM: And the Hixon club made this possible? JG: Really, with everything they’ve done, my life is so much easier. They’ve always been there to help, and I can’t say enough about them. On a scale of 1 to 100, the Lions get the top score.
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