Surry — It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. For Jim Miekka, 49 of Surry, losing his sight made it necessary for him to invent a tool that may eventually make him the forefather to a blind adaptation of his favorite hobby: target shooting.
Twenty-three years ago, Miekka, who was born in Boston, took up the sight-based sport of rifle target shooting while working as a teacher in California. Three years later, complications during surgery left him completely blind. Determined not to let this new disability hold him back, Miekka developed a sight-to-sound system that allows him to hear the target in a similar way that sighted people would see it.
The invention, which he refers to as artificial vision, uses photocells to convert light into electricity. The electric current is then translated into sound waves that can be heard through headphones. Changes in sound frequency allow Miekka, using a black and white checkered target, to hone in on his bull’s-eye with astonishing precision.
Over the last 20 years, Miekka has amended his technology from a primitive, bulky contraption to a high-quality, compact apparatus.