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Born legally blind with non-correctable conditions, Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus, James found a love for the camera when he realized, at its core, it's just a hi-tech magnifier. Since the age of 8, James has actively created movies that have lived on as home and online videos.
During his preteen years in middle school, James endured consistent bullying due to the lack of pigment in his skin and eyes. Nystagmus causes the eyes to involuntarily move back and forth. In James' case, they sway horizontally. He was easily mocked for his eyes appearing foreign in comparison to his classmates. The responses of his peers caused him to have self-doubts, and eventually attempt to take his own life at the age of 11. Diagnosed with clinical depression and battling constant thoughts of suicide, James was desperate to find a cure for his ocular disorders.
The next year, James agreed to try an experimental surgery that would slow the movement of the Nystagmus. This improved James' vision enough to enjoy sports, and perform better academically in school. His mental health still suffered from ups and downs.
However, the results of the surgery weren't permanent. Shortly after entering high school, James participated in a 2-day tennis tournament. Though he was winning after the first day, the next morning something had changed with his vision. His eyes suddenly couldn't focus and were unable to determine depth. Later in the week, he received the news his eyes had reverted back to their original acuity of 20/300. Not only did his vision decrease but familiar classmates from years prior began to torment him once again. He also found discomfort in the accommodations provided by the public school system. This put James at a crossroads in life.
The tough decision to leave public school and enroll in a private college-prep school was made by James alone. There, he was able to work in a smaller student body environment, accommodate himself in class with Apple products such as an iPhone and MacBook Pro, improve his mental health, and focus on his spirituality.
Three days after graduation, James made the snap decision to leave the suburbs of the east coast to learn to live independently in California. While living in Los Angeles, James has shifted his focus on advocating for accessibility and the rights of people with disabilities through video as his preferred medium.
Since his permanent move to LA, his work has been shared by Tim Cook (Apple's CEO), covered by outlets such as CNN, and funded by Skype. He's been invited to speak at online video conventions that are attended by thousands of creators and viewers.
In 2016, James began production on his most ambitious project: an episodic documentary series that aims to normalize access for everyone and gives people with disabilities a platform for proper representation in the entertainment industry.
Rath continues to grow his YouTube channel and spread awareness of accessibility through enlightening videos that appeal to people within the community and those who are curious to learn. Most recently, James was invited by Apple Inc. to visit their campus and speak on a panel for Global Accessibility Awareness Day. He also sat down with Apple's Tim Cook to discuss the importance for everyone to be able to use and have a better quality of life thanks to their products.
James strives to express his passion for equal opportunities for people with disabilities through filmmaking. He emphasizes that a cure isn't always the answer and realistically won't be an answer for many of the 1 billion people living with a disability. Understanding, compassion, and accessibility is what we all need as a society because none of us are prone to having a disability at any point in our lives, and that's why we must care about making ourselves, along with the lives of others, accessible now.