Todd MacAusland has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a condition which causes progressive vision loss. But that does not stop him from raising a family, running marathons, and going to work every day.
He is determined to set a good example by making a living, feeling good about himself, and contributing to his family.
Todd lives in Stratford with his wife Melonie and their three small boys. He works in the office of EMC Entire Mechanical Contractors in Stratford, where he is in charge of writing estimates and quotes for new projects, and ordering materials.
EMC specializes in electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, ventilation for commercial, residential and industrial projects. “I can’t say enough about my employer,” says Todd. “They have been great, and I have been very fortunate.”
Todd was diagnosed with RP when he was 12 years old. “It started as night blindness, and progressed over the years to tunnel vision and cataracts. It is a progressive eye disease for which there is no treatment or cure.”
Todd worked as an electrician for 22 years. His failing eyesight forced him to stop driving when he was 32. “I got around that by starting my own electrical company, and I paid someone to drive me around.
“I did that for almost 10 years, until it got to the point where I was worried about the safety of myself and others, and I just couldn’t give customers what they needed. My wife and I made the decision to wind down the business.
“I spent about six months trying to figure out what to do next. I had been adapting and overcoming my obstacles, but now my livelihood was gone.”
Finding a new job
“I took some workshops with the PEI Council of People with Disabilities and registered with CNIB,” says Todd.
“I was encouraged to find something else I was suited for.”
He called Shane Ostridge, Operations Manager at EMC. They happened to have an office employee who was transitioning to field work, and were looking for someone to fill that position.
“I met with Shane, Frank MacIntyre, the Owner, and Mike Brothers, Manager of the electrical department. I told them what I was up against, and they felt I had something to bring to the table with my experience. They said they would give me everything I need. I was fortunate that way.”
Helpful devices to get the job done
Todd uses a computer program called ZoomText, which magnifies the words on the screen and reads aloud any information requested. A magnifying glass helps him read technical drawings, and an electronic device helps him take measurements. He also uses his smartphone to photograph and magnify text, and it will also read his e-mails aloud.
Todd is part of the PEI Wolf Pack, a group which trains and runs races together. “It is nice to have an outlet where I can meet so many new people. I have run three marathons in the last three years. It’s a great way to push myself outside my comfort zone.”
Todd also belongs to a social media group of people who have Retinitis Pigmentosa. “I am very lucky to have a great network of friends who are always there to help me, and it keeps me going.”
For more about Todd MacAusland, visit www.runningmagazine.ca/running-different-view-things/ or follow him on twitter.
May 2016 Issue
by Heidi Riley