Joseph Fritz – World War II Veteran using Technology

November  7 - Veteran Client Joe Fritz with Humanware Stratus 4M DaisyJoseph Anthony Fritz, a proud veteran of World War II, lives life with enthusiasm, positivity, and a glass half-full attitude. In 1941, while attending college, the eighteen-year-old Saskatchewan native received a letter stating that he had to join the army. As a result, he chose to join the air force, (RCAF), where he served four and a half years as a Mechanic on the Langcaster bomber in Yorkshire England.  

After returning from the war, he settled in British Columbia and pursued a career in the timber industry, married, and raised five children. 

In 2005 Fritz was studying astronomy as this was one of his many interests. When he was trying to locate a star and couldn't, he knew that he needed to get his eyes checked immediately. After meeting with an ophthalmologist, he learned that he developed an eye condition called age related macular degeneration, a common eye condition amongst the aging population. Being the proactive man that Fritz is, he soon connected with CNIB and became a client. "I became a client just over ten years ago when I knew I had a problem," Fritz says. Over the years, Fritz's vision has been gradually declining as macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition. Although blindness hasn't kept him from living life, it has presented challenges such as recognizing people's faces and fostering new friendships.

Among the various services that CNIB offers, Fritz has accessed orientation and mobility lessons with Barbara Schuster.  She helped him learn how to use a white cane to safely travel. She also taught him the bus route to downtown in Victoria where he currently lives. As a result, Fritz confidently uses his white cane and public transit to navigate the streets. He also likes to visit the CNIB office from time to time. "They are a great bunch down there," says Fritz with a smile.
For the past four years Fritz has been learning how to use adaptive software and technology. CNIB Assistive Technology Specialist Mark Nicol has shown him how to use Clearview C with speech and the iPhone with Voiceover. Recently Nicol helped Fritz resolve an issue with Skype as he uses this platform to maintain contact with his relatives who live overseas. "I love working with Joe because he is eager to learn, has a curious mind, and he is just great to spend time with," says Nicol.

Fritz raves, "CNIB has made a huge difference in my life. If it wasn't for CNIB, I don't know if I would be here. CNIB has helped me maintain my independence by helping me stay in touch with my relatives and access documents with minimal assistance. They have helped me more than anyone else."   

Fritz advises people who are experiencing vision loss to connect with CNIB, "They've done so much for me and they can help them too". Fritz always shows his appreciation to staff as well as donating regularly. He encourages people to donate to CNIB as he says they are a very worthy cause and due to the lack of government funding, need the funds to do what they do.  

Joseph Anthony Fritz is a Canadian war hero who isn't going to let vision loss stand in his way. With a positive attitude and infectious smile, he is not only inspiring, but his enthusiasm for life is contagious.