John became blind at age 16. The adjustment was difficult at times, he says, but he quickly found himself able to adapt—and thrive. “It was almost like I was supposed to be blind,” John says. But there’s no doubt that losing his eyesight was a turning point.

“I might as well have been born when that happened, because I’m such a different person.”

In the years since, John has become an accomplished woodworker. He enjoys brewing his own beer. He’s repaired pianos. And it was through Vancouver’s School of Piano Technology for the Blind that John met his wife Anni, a local artist.

“I’ve always been kind of adventurous,” John says. “I basically came to the conclusion that if I want to be independent and go around and stuff, I’m going to smash my face into the occasional tree or pole, or have to ask for directions. You just go for it.”