Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Eye on the Olympics

I began watching the Olympic Games in 1976. That was the year 14-year-old phenom, Nadia Komaneci, took the world of gymnastics by storm, winning three individual gold medals and scoring the first perfect 10 for a female gymnast. I can still recall Ms. Komaneci’s look of steely determination and concentration as she worked her way through the various skills and her ultimate smile of triumph. Having no idea that my vision would wane as I grew older, I became an enthusiastic fan of the sport.

Fast forward to 1988, which finds Maria and I hovering over a 13-inch black and white television set, our focus on a handsome diver named Greg Louganis. He was going for a near-perfect dive, which would mean a gold medal for the United States. We thought his fantastic smile and physique was absolutely riveting. He was definitely easy on our visually impaired eyes. As he dove, creating the most insignificant ripple, we shrieked with glee as we knew he’d just clinched the coveted medal. The next thing we heard was my mother pounding on the door asking what happened. Thinking we were absolutely bonkers, she turned away in incredulity.

Such has been our love and fervor for the Olympic Games. My vision was much better back then and I could really appreciate the glorious opening ceremonies and what would become our favorite sporting events: Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Swimming, and Diving.

For about 8 years, we’ve owned a 32-inch behemoth of a TV, which has greatly improved Maria’s enjoyment for watching the games–especially as the opening ceremonies have reached mythic proportions. We are, however, seriously considering a larger, high-definition model where I’ll be able to see at least a little something with a bit more clarity.

As the visual world went wild over this year’s opening ceremonies, I sat fairly disappointed that I was unable to see them–including her Royal Majesty “parachute” out of the helicopter (I heard the landing, though) and became so bored that I actually fell asleep before the entrance of the American athletes and the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Our Secondary Audio Program (SAP) channel is taken up by the Spanish language and, heaven forbid, Time Warner cable ever offer audio descriptions. Even with our 21st Century Communications Act, I wonder if we’ll be able to persuade the cable companies to at least add another audio channel. I’ve heard that they are only bound by law to provide bills in accessible formats. However, recent news has me optimistic for an accessible viewing future.

Disenchanted with our mostly inaccessible television network coverage, I’m gratified to have my Olympic tweets and Medal Alerts iPhone app that keeps me up-to-date with the accomplishments of our athletes.

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