News

Blind skateboarder proves lack of sight won’t stop him living a normal life

Dan Mancina, 34, from Michigan, US, insisted that his disability wasn’t going to hold him back – and now he can pull off complicated skateboard ticks with ease

A blind skateboarder has proven that his lack of sight won’t stop him from living a normal life – and now he’s learned some of the most complicated tricks.

Dan Mancina, 34, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 13, a rare genetic disease in which the back of the retina is damaged and causes loss of vision.

Then, around five years ago, Dan, from Michigan, US, lost his vision completely and now defines himself as a blind person – but refuse to let it hold him back.

Dan said that he was frustrated by other people’s behaviours and was determined to prove people wrong, so he started skateboarding, practised every day, and soon he was landing trick after trick.

Dan said: “I’m still the same person I was when I had my sight, but because I walk with a cane people speak about me as if I’m not standing right there.

“People try to always help you in ways that you don’t actually need help, like crossing the street. I can ‘hear’ when people are looking at me, it’s very weird being thrown into that world and it feels uncomfortable.

“I was very self-conscious about being blind and carrying my cane in the beginning. People don’t think you can do simple things and I wanted to prove that I could.”

Dan started performing tricks that some might not expect a blind person to be able to do – such as throwing darts and kicking a football in a goal post – but they would be wrong.

He says he felt a need to prove himself to those who doubted his abilities, so Dan, who has been skateboarding since he was seven years old, recently posted a video of himself performing a trick on Instagram.

The experience reminded him of his love for the sport and inspired him to continue pursuing his passion, but now his methods are somewhat different.

Before skating at a park, Dan uses a cane to scope out the different ramps and corners, and get a feel for the area.

He also uses a beeper box or a Bluetooth speaker to bounce the sounds off anything in the environment – such as a nearby road – warning him of any dangers in the area.

When Dan performs a trick, he begins in the same area every time so that he is familiar with the surrounding obstacles.

The skateboarder said: “I get a mental map of the area and where I’m at and use every other sense I have.

“I start in the same spot for every trick I do, so I have an idea where I am and which direction I’m going to.

“Every spot has a unique landscape you can use, whether it’s a crack or something sticking out in the ground to figure out where you are.

“Even a buzzing light post or the sound of the road can give me a direction.

“I’m always trying to progress and keep pushing myself further and further, I have certain goals that I want to do.

“One day I want to film full-length skateboard videos without any cuts, that’s really my goal.”