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VIPs

VIP: Pauline Anna Strom, musician and composer

We’d like to introduce you (or maybe not if you know her already!) to Pauline Anna Strom, a blind musician and composer from the USA.

Born in 1946, Pauline was blind from birth. In adulthood she developed an interest in synthesizers and creating electronic music stating that “electronics expanded the ability to create from your imagination”. Much of her music was experimental and created and recorded at home.

 

In 1982 Pauline released her debut album entitled Trans-Millenia Consort, and from this point on used this title as her pseudonym. She then went on to make another six recordings.

 

According to an article in the New York Times, Pauline “did not dwell on her blindness” and, in fact, felt that her blindness enhanced her music.

 

Here’s a clip of Pauline’s album Trans-Millenia Consort which includes her recording of burbling water, which she became well known for. 

 

Sadly Pauline died in December 2020, two months before a new recording was due to be released. Angels Tears in Sunlight, Pauline’s first album in 30 years, was released in February 2021. You can listen to the album here.

 
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VIPs

VIP: Ted Henter, inventor and waterskiier

To be honest, we only came across Ted Henter recently but we thought he was a great person to be our first VIP. We love the fact that he not only invented a brilliant product for the visually impaired, but then went on to become a top notch waterskiier.

 

Ted Henter is an American who, in 1978 aged 21, had a car accident that left him blind. In his early 20s he completed an Engineering background but after his accident he felt that opportunities for a blind engineer were limited. With this in mind, he took a series of courses with the aim of becoming a computer programmer. This led Ted to start developing some of the first talking computers for blind people in the early 80s.

 

Ted Henter’s most famous invention (so far!) is JAWS – Job Access With Speech. JAWS is a computer program that translates what’s on a computer screen into voice or Braille. Ted believed that being visually impaired should not stop you from living your life to its full potential. This translated into a desire to create a product to assist with finding work. Ted also worked on other assistive technologies for helping visually impaired people in everyday life.

 

And what of Ted’s waterskiing prowess? Prior to his accident, Ted was to become a professional motorcycle racer. With that no longer an option, he returned to a previous hobby of waterskiing which he triumphed at. Before his retirement in 1991 Ted won six out of seven competitions in the United States and scored two international wins. He also won the overall Gold medal in the United States and World Championship for Disabled Skiers.

 

What an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with Ted Henter here.