blind people

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Joshua A. Miele, here in Berkeley, Calif., was 4 when a next-door neighbor came to the gate of his family’s home in Brooklyn and tossed sulfuric acid into his face, blinding him. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times.

Joshua A. Miele, here in Berkeley, Calif., was 4 when a next-door neighbor came to the gate of his family’s home in Brooklyn and tossed sulfuric acid into his face, blinding him. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times.

Joshua Miele‘s Sight Was Stolen From Him When He Was A Child

Forty Something Years Later, He’s Giving the Blind a Bright Future

A neighbourhood boy remembers hearing of a little boy blinded by a schizophrenic man who threw acid on him at the age of 4. Decades later he looks up the man that little boy has become and writes an article about him.

The subject of the article, Josh Miele, is the President of the LightHouse Board. In addition to heading the LightHouse with leadership and vision, Josh is an associate scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, where he has partnered with the LightHouse to create tactile-Braille maps of every station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART). The New York Times called the maps, “exquisite things with raised lines of plastic and Braille labels. They elegantly lay out information that can be heard by using an audio smart pen”.

On an October afternoon 43 years ago, on a beautiful block in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a crime occurred in a split second that was as permanent as it was cruel. Grown-ups tried to make sense of it, even use it as a cautionary tale for their children, but in the end, many just put it out of their minds. How could they not? It was just too awful, its lessons too hard to fathom.

The victim was named Josh Miele. He was 4. On that day, Oct. 5, 1973, he was playing in the backyard of his family’s house on President Street while his mother, Isabella, cooked in the kitchen. The doorbell rang, and Josh sprinted to get it.

Standing on the other side of the heavy iron gate beneath the stoop was Basilio Bousa, 24, who lived next door. Josh unlocked it. Then he slipped his two feet into the gate’s lowest rung and grabbed hold with his hands so his weight would pull it open. But Basilio just stood there. Basilio didn’t move or speak. So Josh stepped out, into the open. And then, he couldn’t see. He didn’t know why. He felt around with his hands, grasping for the walls. He forced his eyes open and glimpsed the wood paneling in the vestibule. It was the last thing he ever saw.

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