Indiana attorney doesn’t let blindness hold him back

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — James H. Lockwood says there are plenty of challenges to being the only blind lawyer in St. Joseph County.

“It takes me longer to do things, sometimes,” he said. “Most lawyers can just open up their mail and read it at the mailbox, but I have to scan it.”

Lockwood has a program that will audibly read typewritten documents once they are scanned into his computer. That allows him to hear aloud letters, legal briefs and the other types of forms that attorneys have to read and understand.

Lockwood, who does not read braille, said “The biggest challenge is often the stuff you don’t think about,” like an introductory handshake or a ride to the courthouse or to a client’s home.

I met Lockwood, his wife Sarah, and their newborn daughter at the Starbucks on Indiana 933 recently. I stood at the front of the table when I introduced myself, but then moved to sit. Lockwood stuck out his hand in the direction that he heard my voice come from seconds earlier.

“That kind of stuff, the every day stuff, is challenging,” he said.

Blindness prevents Lockwood from driving, and he depends on his father and occasionally his wife to take him to the courthouse or other appointments.

The 36-year-old attended school in the Penn-Harris-Madison district and overcame big and small challenges to earn a law degree from the University of Notre Dame and work several years for the Ohio Attorney General’s office.