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Changing the lyrics to Ben E King’s famous ‘Stand By Me’ to mimic his struggles with retinitis pigmentosa was the beginning of Dave Steele as the Blind Poet.

Speaking to Vision Australia Radio’s Studio 1, Dave said he was able to articulate what was going on around him, his feelings and his deteriorating vision perfectly through lyrics.

“We've all had a song that has gotten us through a dark time or a heartbreak, a breakup or something like that,” he told Studio 1 host Matthew Layton.  

“We turn to music in those times.”

It was after one routine eye test in 2014 that the gravity of what was to come hit him.

Photo: Dave Steele holding his white cane.

“They said, you need to stop driving straight away and we need to refer you to a retinal specialist,” he said.  

“And that was the start of a big, big change.

“I remember kind of walking out of the optician’s room almost in slow motion.”

He sought out others with retinitis pigmentosa to reduce the isolation, and there in came his unique form of therapy - poetry.

“It literally just started to pour out of me.

“The good days, the bad days, the days where I was locked in my room feeling anxious and depressed, I would write about it.”

He created his own “Stand By Me RP” Facebook page in 2015 and since its inception, the page has become one of the largest social media retinitis pigmentosa groups in the world.

Four books of poetry later and a thriving YouTube channel, Dave continues to on getting the experiences of those with vision loss out to the public.

Most recently, he has released his own children’s book called Austin's Amazing Adventures which follows a young boy with his dog guide companion.

Listen to Dave’s full interview in the player below:


Find out more about Dave Steele via his website.

Studio 1 is Vision Australia Radio’s weekly look at life from a low vision and blind point of view.

To get in touch with the show. Call or text: 0450 078 834 or email [email protected].