Brandon Summers' Story

As humans, we hold a special bond with music. It can make us feel things we never thought were possible, or bring out sensations that are indescribable. For the blind and partially sighted community, music can hold an even more significant bond. For 28-year-old CNIB client and new father Brandon Summers, this rings especially true. 

At the tender age of six-months-old, Brandon was diagnosed with Ocular Albinism - a genetic condition that affects the iris and the retina causing severe light sensitivity and impairment of depth perception and visual acuity.

Even with this diagnosis, Brandon's parents did not let it hold him back.

"My parents were big advocates on treating me just like a normal kid", says Brandon. "I couldn't see what was in front of me but they'd still let me ride a bike".

To Brandon, this is the reason for his 'can-do' attitude.

As a young child, Brandon's parents – one of whom works at the CNIB Calgary office in the Children's Department – did a lot of music therapy and music exposure with him. This led to a love for instruments and music. Brandon plays an array of instruments now, but holds a special place for the bagpipes. He started playing the bagpipes when he was nine years old and even travelled to the UK to play in a band.

While playing in the pipe band, Brandon met his now wife, Carmen, when she came to audition for the drumming position. After being together for five years, Brandon and his wife tied the knot on October 5, 2013. He says there was never really a time that his vision became an issue in their relationship like it had in previous relationships.

"Even if I didn't have vision loss, there's things she'd be better at than me and that's just what makes a good partnership".

Brandon and Carmen welcomed their first child – a baby boy. Brandon admits to having fears around fatherhood saying, "I'm afraid of him being eight-years-old and me not being able to help him anymore".

However, he sees beyond his vision loss saying, "There's adaptions though. I can get a large print book and he can read along with the small print."

Although music exposure therapy was used heavily with Brandon due to his vision loss, he and his wife are excited to start bringing musical notes into their son's ears.

"I'm really excited to start doing music exposure with him and get him onto different sounds and instruments which was used a lot with me when I was young".

Brandon's parents filled him with the love of music that he still holds today, and hopes that one day, his child will play music as well.