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AbledCauses Post Banner shows John Furniss at work, restoring a grand piano. The headline reads: John Furniss Piano Service: Help blind piano restorer to buy adaptive tools shop.

A Story of Resurrection and Redemption and A Love of Fine Craftsmanship


The resurrection part of this story is fairly straight forward. A 16 year-old boy tries to commit suicide. He fails and lives.


But there is a price to pay . . . he is left totally blind.


The redemption part of the story is more complex because it weaves through layers of the hope, marginalization and frustration that many people with vision-loss often encounter when they try to find a way to make a living in the face of a life-altering disability.


Many find themselves wrapped in a suffocating social cocoon of judgmental and factual ignorance and indifference and become fatally overwhelmed by it all. But some have the good fortune to encounter good and decent people who understand that accessibility and adaptability are often all it takes to take the dis out of disabled.


It’s the latter path that John Furniss has been fortunate to walk. At 16, life seemed  just too much to handle. Now 32, he says it really wasn’t, when he looks back on it. 


The path forward wasn’t easy. Despite studying woodworking in Utah, he encountered the marginalization and ignorance and couldn’t find a job. Then he heard about a school in Vancouver, Washington that would soon change his life. It was the Emil Fries School of Piano Technology for the Blind, now operating as the School of Piano Technology for the Blind.


John moved to Vancouver, studied hard, and graduated last year. During his studies he was fortunate to meet Rick Patten who mentored at the school and who owns and operates a piano restoration shop. Rick is one of those people who understands the concept of ‘evening the playing field’ through accessibility and adaptability, because he’s invented one-of-a-kind shop tools for people with varying degrees of vision loss to work with in the restoration of pianos.


For John Furniss, it has become a full-circle experience, as his resurrection and redemption enable him to offer the same to the worn and sound-weary instruments that his alternate senses allow him to lovingly heal, refurbish and recalibrate to regain their purpose in life.


AbledCauses photo by Anni Becker shows John Furniss sitting on a wooden stool in the piano restoration shop with a rack of tools above the workbench to his right with an old upright piano about two feet in front of him. John has brown hair and is wearing bluejeans and a brown t-shirt.


Now, the next chapter. Rick Patten is ready to retire, and John has what he calls ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ to pick up where Rick is leaving off by purchasing his shop and the adaptive tools. To that end he’s launched a crowdfunding campaign on that runs to February 19th and he’s hoping to raise $15,000.


There’s a wonderful article written by Eileen Cowan at the Vancouver Vector about John’s story. And below we feature a couple of videos – one about the fundraising campaign and the other, a profile on John done by KGW TV.


We hope you will help John’s journey of resurrection and redemption continue by helping him to become a small business owner.

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Abled Public Service Ad for World Access For the Blind shows a silhouette of its Founder and President Daniel Kish walking with a long cane against a gradient orange half sonar wave positioned in front of a reflecting grey sonar wave with the subtitle 'Our Vision Is Sound'. Click here to learn more about echolocation for the blind.


Abled Public Service Ad for The Seeing Eye Guide Dog Training School in Morristown New Jersey showing a German Shepherd sitting in the sun on a green lawn with a black lab, a golden lab and a golden retriever with the caption 'Independence and Dignity Since 1929. Click here to visit their website.


Abled Public Service Ad for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's (CNIB) Night Steps program. The the white text on a gradient blue black background to simulate the night sky reads: CNIB Night Steps brings together family, friends, and community members for a fun 5K night walk that raises funds for CNIB’s vital programs and services for people who are blind or partially sighted, such as independent travel skills. Enjoy an evening of live music, a BBQ and exclusive party favors!. Some of the stars in the night sky of the design are punctuated with braille dots. Click here to go to the CNIB website to learn more.


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