top of page
silhouette of man near the window black and white

Who's The Blind Kid?

The Full Story

My name is Brett Devloo, but most people know me as The Blind Kid, or TBK for short.

Most kids get their nickname from a talent or some inside joke. Mine was because I went blind during the middle of history class when I was sixteen. (Bet you didn't think that was possible, did you?) It turns out I have a rare DNA mutation called Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (or LHON for short). You know how our DNA is made up of millions of pieces of information that talk to each other so your body works the way it's supposed to? Well, I have a small piece of coding that didn't get the memo, which caused me to suddenly lose 98% of my vision.


Understandably, a lot of people asked me how I reacted — was I scared? Angry? Panicked? To be honest, it didn't really hit me. One minute, I was taking notes on the overhead learning about Louis Riel, and then the next I couldn't see, so I walked to the eye doctor alone. Yes, alone. Did I tell anyone where I was going or why? Nope. Did I emphasize that I couldn't see to the receptionist at the eye doctor? Also no (I was told to come back later, so I went back to class and returned for my appointment a couple hours later). Although it took about six months to diagnose me, I wasn't really fixed on finding an answer to "why" I went blind. All I knew is I couldn't see, and it more than likely wasn't coming back. Nothing to do but press onwards.


Anyways, I don't like to get caught up on that part of the story. I prefer to focus on what happens next:

The one thing that was crystal clear to me is I didn't want to focus on myself — I wanted to help others. Over the years, that's taken many different forms through motivational speaking, pouring my heart into music that resonates with those who need it most, and fundraising to provide visually impaired students with iPads to better support their education. And then there's skateboarding — my lifelong passion that's set me free. I owe all that I've achieved to skateboarding, because when I stepped back on that board after I lost my vision, I realized I. Could. Do This. I hope that through my journey on the board, others will discover their own sense of liberation and possibility.

Because for me, it's not just about overcoming obstacles — it's about paving the way for others to do the same.

Mission Statements

Positively impact as many people as possible

My core goal is to spread hope to anyone who will listen and let them know they're not alone. I want to be the person that has a lasting impact, that moment that strikes a core with someone and makes them go, hey — I am good enough.

Spread awareness about accessibility

Being blind isn't easy, but the part that makes it difficult is how inaccessible the world is around me. With the right resources and education on the subject, people (and society as a whole) can make the world a lot easier for people with all kinds of disabilities.

Help people believe in themselves

This third goal is the end result of my first two mission statements: Hope and accessibility make powerful allies. Together, it lets people believe in themselves like they should, because every single one of us is awesome. 

Questions you probably want to know about me

How blind am I?

I'm roughly 98% blind. The last time I went to an ophthalmologist, they said I had over 20/2000 vision, but there hits a point where it starts to lose meaning. For reference, in Canada legally blind is defined as when your best eye has 20/200 vision or less with the help of glasses or contact lenses.

What do I see?

I can see lights and shadows. For example, in a room with white walls I can tell there's a black couch and where the lights are. I can sometimes "tell" things are blue, but I don't actually see blue (it was the last colour I lost as my vision regressed, so there some part of me that can still sense it to a certain degree).

How am I blind if i can see?

Blindness is a spectrum; 85% of people with eye disorders have some remaining sight, meaning that roughly 15% are totally blind. There are a range of terms used to describe people: visually impaired, blind, legally blind, etc. For example, people have tried correcting me that I'm "only legally blind" since I have remaining vision. The takeaway here is every person with a visual impairment has a different story, and it's always best to ask (never assume). They're likely using the term that they feel fits them best.

Can I drive?

Absolutely not. However, as a joke I tried to get my driver's license renewed (after I lost my vision) and they somehow skipped the eye test and I successfully got it. I have no idea how I didn't raise any suspicions when I asked for help signing the back of my new card.

Is there a cure for LHON?

At this time, there's no cure for LHON. However, there is some absolutely incredible work being done by scientists around the world working tirelessly to find an effective treatment. Some of the top ones I'm currently aware of are Gensight and Neurophth, who have both reached human clinical trial stages (exciting stuff).

What's one thing you wish people understood about people with visual impairments?

I'm a person. I know it sounds painfully obvious, but people get so caught up in me being different, that it sometimes gets forgotten in the process. An easy example is every once in a while when me and friends go out to a restaurant, a server will as my friends what I want to order instead of asking me directly. A little bit of empathy goes a long way! (By the way, I'll usually have the chicken fingers)

Why do I have tattoos if I can't even see them?

Because they're awesome. Even if I can't see them, I know they're there. I got to think about the art that I want on my body, the meaning behind it, going to the tattoo parlor, getting the work done, feeling the ink and needle on my skin, and knowing that it's a part of me. So far, I have four tattoos and I intend to get lots more!

How do I skateboard?

Experience and luck (in that order). I've been skating since I was four, so there's tons of muscle memory there. I stick to a few skateparks I'm familiar with and memorize the areas I like to focus on. From there, I'll lay down some black industrial tape on key parts of the park like ramps and rails. The 2% vision I have left will catch the contrast of the black tape against the pavement at the last second and help me line up my tricks to the best of my ability. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I have to be extra careful once the sun sets, because it casts shadows that look a lot like black tape (to me) and it's led to some nasty injuries.



  • TikTok
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page