jeff healey is one of canada's most accomplished musicians despite the fact that he lost his sight to a form of cancer called retinoblastoma at age one. The blues-rock guitarist does a lot more than just entertain. He became the first blind person to read at the city's Word On The Street Festival, and his charity work has included representing the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
Ironically enough, Healey's, his seven-month-old club at the corner of Bathurst and Queen, does not include any features for the blind.
"It's not meant to be a blind-guy club," he says. "It's a music club. Having just come away from a Braille Day function, I suppose I may be thinking a little more along those lines, but by and large it is what it is. It's a club, and those of us who are blind and also go to clubs just expect that."
While Healey's is said to offer a more sophisticated menu than most bars, its co-owner isn't rushing to stray from the norm and provide Braille menus or anything else to accommodate his blind clientele.
"You know what you want to drink, and if you need some help to find a particular spot to sit or where the lavatory is or whatever the case may be, there are people to ask," Healey says.
There's also no wheelchair access to the club although there are more than a dozen stairs leading down to the basement haunt.
Healey tells me the place needed extensive renovation before it opened last May. Unfortunately, with all the stairs, they would have had to build a huge ramp. He would have liked to have a street-level club, he says, but "beggars can't be choosers."