LEWISTON — Zion Aube would love to see his grandmother someday.

Zion Aube, who was born blind, relaxes with his dog, Brutus. Sarah Stone photo Sarah Stone

He would love to see his mother and brother, too, not to mention his friends, classmates and just about everyone and everything else in the world.

The 14-year-old was born blind, but new technology called the BrainPort Vision Pro, a nonsurgical innovation, might provide him with a semblance of sight.

When Zion talks about his desire to see, his hopes range from the mundane to the grand — he would like to see his mother’s face. His grandmother’s, too.

But it is the little things — the types of things people with sight tend to take for granted. Zion would like to watch television instead of listening to hit. He’d like to play video games with his friends.

Eyesight, Zion said, will help him be a better student. Now, he relies on a teacher trained to instruct students who are visually impaired.


“I’d be able to learn with my classmates,” Zion said, in a video posted on a GoFundMe page, “and I’d have more friends because of it. I’d be able to function like a normal person.”

The BrainPort Vision Pro. BrainPort Technologies

Zion and his family have set up a GoFundMe page seeking $10,000 for the BrainPort device. By Wednesday afternoon, more than $3,000 had been donated.

“It’s urgent that Zion gets help now!” the page states. “As a young teen it is imperative that he is able to begin to navigate the world outside of his own home independently.”

Zion has studied the science of  the BrainPort and consulted with his medical team and with the makers of BrainPort.

Zion understands clearly why he was born blind.

“My optic nerves never grew when I was a fetus,” he said.


But he also understands how something like the BrainPort can overcome blindness, which at one time would have been considered a lifetime affliction.

“It puts a pair of camera glasses over my eyes and puts an electrode on my tongue,” he said. “It sends a visual map of what the camera glasses are seeing on to my tongue, through my body and into my brain into my visual cortex.”

In addition to the GoFundMe effort, Zion and his family have set up fundrasiers, including live performances at some local clubs and a bottle drive in which money from returnables brought to Roopers Beverage can be donated to the cause.

“It’s all very exciting,” said Zion’s mother, Sarah Stone.

Zion said he would like to have the BrainPort by the time he is 16 years old, although he said he does not have any kind of deadline.

By Wednesday afternoon, 80 people had made donations through GoFundMe.

“I can’t imagine such a sweet, young person not being able to see,” wrote one donor. “He deserves to see the beauty in life, and his families faces. Good luck Zion!”

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