The GBR Blind match racing team was emailed, to let us know that Optimum had sponsored us with a watch each. As the totally blind member of the team I assumed they couldn’t mean me as however large or clear the dial or numbers, I could not read it.
Imagine my excitement when I was handed my first ever racing watch which I, not only could; hear increasing countdown bleeps, feel a vibration at each bleep, but due to the easy button layout and acknowledging bleeps when pressed, I could also set up the watch myself, and be confident I had correctly started it.
At the Blind world match racing championships Sheboygan USA, I can confirm, despite sometimes not being able to properly feel my fingers due to the cold, I never missed getting the start sequence. For the first time ever, I had a reliable countdown, which didn’t let me down through any of my ten races.
It is possible to use a simple countdown talking timer or watch which announces the elapsed time at each minute, every ten seconds in the last minute, and the final ten second countdown. This can be customized so that you can hear the elapsed time regularly during a start sequence, but you must use two devices in unison. Set one to count down from one minute, and the other from five or seven minutes, depending on the length of your start sequence. Running both timers or watches simultaneously will give the elapsed time every ten seconds, and remind you how many minutes are left. Dangers of this method are that you might not activate both timers simultaneously, so one is slightly wrong. In addition, it may be difficult to hear the elapsed time unless you fix the timer to your shoulder or hat.