VISION SCIENCE TALKS – An Interview with Ken Brandt
by Vision Science Academy | Sep 1, 2021 | In the Know
"...a fascinating story...teeming with humor, optimism, and a lasting sense of endeavor."
An Interview with Ken Brandt
Interviewed and summarized by
Somayeh Heidarzadeh (Bita)
Training Manager, Turkey
Vision Science Academy
Recently, Ken Brandt – author of “Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight” – was interviewed by me at Vision Science Academy’s Vision Science Talks platform to inquire more about his experience as a promising author and his personal life. Watch the full interview here WATCH NOW
The book offers readers a sneak-peek into Ken’s personal life experience as a visually challenged individual. Ken was legally blind for many years, and has always faced low vision challenges. Despite all of this, his book is not a conventional autobiography filled with sorrow since the author highlights the positive aspects of poor eyesight, and amusingly writes about the benefits a person can derive from poor vision. In a nutshell, Ken narrates a fascinating story replete with hardships, but at the same time teeming with humor, optimism, and a lasting sense of endeavor.
Last September, Ken was interviewed by the Vision Science Academy just before his book “Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight” was launched. Watch last year’s interview here. VSA members wanted to know how Ken and his book have been doing, which is why I did this catch-up interview.
While commenting on his background, Ken tells us that he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He has lived in various cities of North America but at present, he resides in Melbourne, Australia with his wife, Judy Brandt. Currently, Ken is busy publicizing his enjoyable book, while he also spares plenty of time to engage in work-out sessions, to practice his jazz trumpet, and to manage some pleasant family time. His book sales started off very well due to many pre-launch sales, then dropped, but have been steadily climbing up since then, and Ken remains optimistic that the delightful genre of his book will keep on attracting more and more enthusiastic readers.
As for what motivated him to write this book, Ken explains that he has always been fond of sharing his personal stories with friends and family members over a cup of coffee or beer. With the passage of time, he became aware that people really love hearing about his adventurous life stories, and that’s when he decided to arrange this bunch of humor-filled recollections into an interesting book. Writing and publicizing a book during a pandemic has not been a piece of cake for Ken. Nonetheless, he says that it was quite convenient to write a book during long periods of social distancing as he could effectively focus on his ideas during isolation at home. Moreover, promotion of his book has been made a lot easier due to various social media platforms available on the internet. Ken however, did not face much trouble in assembling the perfect team for finishing his autobiography. The accomplished and super experienced editor Elzy Kolb is Ken’s longtime friend. Ken works out three mornings a week with writer and award-winning conservationist Rob Youl, who wrote the wonderful Foreword. His wife, Judy contributed an amazing book design and snappy book cover, which further adds to the beauty of this book.
Ken has been receiving a lot of positive reviews particularly from the professionals in vision healthcare. Many ophthalmologists and optometrists have recommended this light-hearted book to their patients who find it difficult to cope with their poor vision. The readers have described that Ken’s personal life experiences have helped them overcome their own grievances with perseverance and humor. In his interview with Ms. Bita, Ken also illustrates his exciting adventure of parachuting during his university days while he was the captain of his university’s parachuting team. Despite having poor eyesight, Ken managed to pull off this feat flawlessly, not once but three times. Later however, his eye doctor advised him to let go of this hobby as a hard knock to the head during parachuting could have led to a recurring retinal detachment in either or both eyes. In the same interview, Ken also reminisces his hilarious memory of the incident when a building next to his studio apartment was set on fire while he was asleep. The book is packed with these types of anedotes.
A nostalgic Ken Brandt pictured while holding his childhood’s first pair of glasses.
Ken believes that having poor vision has its own perks. For example, the world is a more beautiful place since a visually impaired person seldom notices the minor flaws in their otherwise beautiful view field. This allows them to focus more on the positive aspect of things around them while ignoring the little flaws that could be part and parcel of any living person or an inanimate object.
Ken is highly passionate about contributing to the cause of visual healthcare. He is generously donating 10% of the royalties earned from his book to two noble causes: eye research and curing preventable blindness. In this regard, Ken says that if someone buys and reads his book, they are actually joining him in his global mission to help visually challenged individuals.
Judy has always supported her husband through thick and thin, and even during his first endeavor as an author, she has collaborated with Ken to produce the best possible design for his book “Positive Vision”.
Ken Brandt photographed holding his trumpet, accompanied by his beloved wife, Judy who is holding her parasol. They are about to lead a New Orleans style jazz parade fundraiser for the hungry and homeless.
In his message to individuals with poor vision, Ken recommends that everyone follow their ophthalmologist’s and optometrist’s advice, and be grateful for whatever level of vision they help you achieve. He readily acknowledges that good eyesight is better than poor eyesight, but believes that everyone should understand and enjoy the advantages of poor eyesight. Lastly, he encourages people to not let their poor eyesight get in the way of fulfilling their dreams, instead they should: enjoy the challenges and fun along the way, and give their dreams a red hot go.