By: Brian McCallen
Lesley Smith is not just your average anime, manga, technology, and gaming enthusiast. She’s made a career writing about it! Also, the fact that Lesley has conquered the challenges that face a visually impaired journalist makes her an inspiration to us all.
Attending major conventions, such as San Diego Comic-Con, and writing for key publications, including PlayStation: The Official Magazine, Lesley’s interviewed game developers, voice actors, artists, and authors. She’s also done some fictional and non-fictional works of her own, making her an accomplished writer and journalist.
I interviewed Lesley, who lives in the U.K., by email and asked how she got into the business of gaming journalism. She said, “I figured if I was going to write for a living, I may as well pick subjects that I enjoyed and were knowledgeable in.” Her career decision and success teaches an important lesson to us all: Pursue your passions.
I asked Lesley about the job challenges she faces as a freelance journalist with limited vision. Lesley commented that she loves computer games, but they present their own kinds of challenges, so she tends to focus on covering only one or two games. When asked about other difficulties, her reply was synonymous with others who are blind and visually impaired: “Oh lots. I have to travel to press events (though I’m now accompanied by my guide dog Unis) and there’s a preconception that you can’t be blind and be a journalist. Most people are quite shocked the first time they meet me.” In addition to traveling, she mentioned the journalist’s day-to-day aspects of demanding clients, short briefs, and tight deadlines.
Solutions that work for Lesley are telecommuting when possible and using a few forms of accessible technology to complete her job tasks. Calling herself an “Apple fan girl,” Lesley uses VoiceOver and Scrivener to write, along with an iPad to read books, paperwork, and email while on the road.
According to her biography article at Journalism.co.uk, Lesley has lived her life with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). PubMed Health defines ROP as the “abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye in a premature infant.” ROP has left Lesley blind in her right eye and with limited vision in the left with no depth perception, visual memory, or face recognition. Lesley’s story hits home for me. As someone with ROP, a passion for anime and technology, and the desire for a career in broadcast journalism, Lesley has inspired me to follow my passions in my career endeavors.
For all blind and visually impaired future journalists and writers, read Lesley Smith.
You can find more about Lesley Smith and her work at www.lesley-smith.co.uk