ELKO — Mike Armstrong sat on the edge of his bed in the Red Lion Hotel and felt for his iPhone.
He thumbed through the phone’s assorted menus with the aid of a VoiceOver application, which directs the user by way of an automated voice. After a few moments of exploring, Armstrong finally found the song he wanted to play in his iTunes. The music began and Armstrong closed his prosthetic eyes, while his feet tapped in rhythm on the carpeted floor.
The song was a single performed by Armstrong’s musical group, the Michael Paul Band. Two of the band members are blind. Armstrong is one of them.
He was visiting Elko to present a few workshops and a motivational speech at the Adobe Middle School on Aug. 25.
Armstrong was diagnosed with non-diabetic retinopathy after an injury as teenager affected his right retina. Doctors warned him that too much physical activity could be devastating to his eyesight, but Armstrong was already a second degree black belt in the martial arts.
“Martial arts was a passion and it really helped me grow through some rough teenage years,” he said. “It helped me become a man and changed my life. As I tried to give up martial arts, I found myself in a huge bout of depression. After three months, I decided that I couldn’t live my life like that.”