Langley Man Turns Vision Loss Into Opportunity to Inspire and Support Others

Brett Devloo, 28, lost his vision at 16 due to a rare genetic disorder and learned to adapt with accessibility tools and support. He now runs a clothing brand, gives motivational talks, and raises funds for visually impaired youth, inspiring others with his determination.

Shivani Chauhan
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Langley Man Turns Vision Loss Into Opportunity to Inspire and Support Others

Langley Man Turns Vision Loss Into Opportunity to Inspire and Support Others

Brett Devloo, a 28-year-old resident of Langley, British Columbia, faced a life-altering challenge when he suddenly lost his vision at the age of 16 as a result of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a rare mitochondrial disorder. LHON, caused by a gene mutation passed down on the maternal side, affects approximately 35,000 people worldwide. Devloo's vision deteriorated from 20/50 to 20/500 in a matter of seconds on November 23, 2011.

Why this matters: This story highlights the importance of accessibility and support for individuals with disabilities, demonstrating that with the right resources and mindset, they can overcome significant challenges and make a positive impact on their communities. Moreover, it raises awareness about rare genetic disorders like LHON, which can have a profound impact on individuals and families worldwide.

After six months of testing and visits to various specialists and neurologists, Devloo received the diagnosis of LHON. Doctors informed him that he would be blind for the rest of his life. "I was directed to different specialists and neurologists, and everything was just an elimination game at that point,"Devloo, back, helpFaced with this new reality, he had to quickly adapt and learn to find his way through his life without sight.

With the support of his school administration and teachers, Devloo learned vital skills such as mastering mobility with a cane, reading Braille, and using accessibility software on computers. The school even made accommodations to help him move around the premises more easily. "I almost didn't have a chance to cope with it. I just had to run with it and keep going,"Devloo shares, highlighting the resilience and determination he had to muster in the face of adversity.

Determined to make a positive impact, Devloo started a clothing brand to raise funds to donate iPads equipped with VoiceOver accessibility software to other visually impaired youth. He also began giving motivational talks at high schools, with two scheduled in Mission, British Columbia, this month. "Kids need to know that they can be something too," Devloo emphasizes, underscoring the importance of empowering and supporting visually impaired individuals.

In addition to his fundraising and motivational speaking efforts, Devloo has achieved remarkable personal milestones. In 2022, he had the opportunity to record music with one of Stevie Wonder's producers. He has also learned to skateboard blind by using visual markers such as thick black tape or black spray paint. Devloo, who now resides in Aldergrove, Langley, can often be found honing his skills at local skateboard parks.

Devloo's website, set to relaunch in May 2024, will feature a section for donations to help raise funds for iPads and other accessible technology for visually impaired children. Through his tireless efforts and unwavering determination, Brett Devloo serves as an inspiration to those facing adversity, demonstrating that with perseverance and support, one can overcome even the most challenging obstacles and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Key Takeaways

  • Brett Devloo lost his vision at 16 due to Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a rare genetic disorder.
  • With support, he learned vital skills like Braille and accessibility software to adapt to his new reality.
  • Devloo started a clothing brand to raise funds for iPads with accessibility software for visually impaired youth.
  • He gives motivational talks at high schools to empower visually impaired individuals.
  • Devloo has achieved personal milestones, including recording music with a Stevie Wonder producer and learning to skateboard blind.