Jordy in the News

Jordy in the News

Posted on Jun.08, 2010, under Enhanced Vision News

WVU mascot uses technology that keeps him focused

When Derek Fincham was 2 months old, his parents noticed something wrong with his vision. His eyes were crossed and constantly moved back and forth.

An eye specialist diagnosed his problem as ocular albinism, the absence of pigment in the eyes, which causes a variety of problems.

At age 23, Fincham is in his second year as the West Virginia University Mountaineer mascot. His eyes are extremely sensitive to light and he also has a condition called nystagmus, which means his eyes move constantly.

“My biggest hindrance has been driving. As the Mountaineer mascot traveling to all different kinds of places, I have had to rely on friends to provide transportation, but everyone has been great,” Fincham said.

Researchers found that with ocular albinism, the eye’s fovea — the small area of the retina responsible for acute vision — doesn’t develop completely. It’s thought the lack of melanin pigment in the eye inhibits the fovea’s development, resulting in the eye not being able to properly process sharp light images.

Despite those vision impairments, Fincham has excelled in school, from the earliest grades through high school and into his college years. His family has been supportive throughout. Wanting to help her son as much as possible while he was growing up, Fincham’s mother actually earned a master’s degree in special education, specializing in the visually impaired.

“My parents have been advocates for me to ensure that I’ve always had whatever equipment or special needs provisions that have been required over the years. The schools I’ve been in have been good about providing those needs, and I’ve never had any problems here at WVU,” he said.

Fincham is a first-year graduate student working toward an advanced degree in rehabilitation counseling. Earlier this year, he completed his undergraduate work at WVU, earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. He plans to become a Methodist minister.

“I’m really thankful to my parents and to my friends who helped me reach my goals. I’ve been very fortunate to have a great support system behind me all the way.”

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Over the years, Fincham has been assessed and treated by numerous eye care professionals. He’s worked with various rehabilitation professionals as well, with these experiences leading him to enroll in WVU’s rehabilitation counseling program.

“I’m learning skills,” he says, “that will one day allow me to be an effective rehabilitation counselor.”

Fincham helped launch the low-vision institute at WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital. The institute promotes medical and technology research into the causes of and treatments for low-vision eye conditions.

Through the Rotary Angel Donor Vision Program, Fincham recently was introduced to a piece of technology that’s altered his life — JORDY™, a vision-assist device built in the United States by Enhanced Vision ( of Huntington Beach, Calif.

Resembling a pair of futuristic eyeglasses, JORDY is worn like conventional eyeglasses. Battery-powered, the compact, lightweight and flexible JORDY offers a magnification range to 30X plus auto-focus. Digital zoom capability allows users to focus on near and far subjects, and anything in between. A choice of four viewing modes — full-color, black-and-white, and high-contrast positive and negative — means users can deploy JORDY in the ways most beneficial to them. An optional desktop stand offers magnification to 50X plus a large work space with locking table for stationary reading and writing.

Trained on JORDY by Dr. Will Smith of the Appalachian Center for Visual Rehabilitation at the WVU Eye Institute, Fincham says JORDY capabilities have completely altered the classroom experience for him — for the better.

“Before I began using JORDY, I couldn’t see the front of the classroom or the whiteboard. I had to rely almost strictly on listening to what was being said in class, taping lectures and listening to books on tape,” Fincham said.

Reading assignments took a long time. “Before JORDY, it took me 10 minutes to read one page of text. Now, with the device, I can read a page in two to four minutes. I’ve also found that JORDY is great for reading magazines and newspapers, and I use it to watch movies on my notebook computer.”

Fincham’s strong belief in himself, his family and friends’ support, and his faith are cornerstones for what should prove to be a well-lived, productive life.

“I’m living my life with a physical disability, and I know how hard that is,” he says. “But I also know that by relying on your inner strength and the support of others, and taking advantage of assistive technology such as JORDY, there’s no reason for anyone not to achieve their life goals.”

For more information about JORDY, call 1-888-3161 or visit

By: Bev Davis

Original article:

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