Guest Blog Post by Graham Rankin, owner of Creations by BG

I am Graham Rankin, a woodworker who happens to be legally blind.  Through working with counselors at the Oregon Council for the Blind (OCB), I have been able to take my hobby of some 20 years to become an income-generating small business, Creations by BG.

FUN FACT: of all the people who are diagnosed as “legally blind”, only 12% have no sight at all.   I am on the other end of the spectrum.  My main limitation is my peripheral vision in one eye and my central vision in the other which means no driving (THAT took some adjustment) as well as needing some magnification for some tasks.

I want to inform people that the OCB has many programs and can provide a wide range of adaptive aids to make the visually impaired more independent and productive.  Of high importance to all, there is no fee for the service. It has been supported by our taxes since the early 1960s, a federal program administered by each state.  Oregon’s main office is in Portland with administrative offices and a training center.

Some personal history.  Although I have been very near-sighted (can’t see far away but could see up close)  since the 4th grade, I was correctable with glasses and later contact lenses.  Over 17 years ago, I had laser refraction surgery to correct my nea- sightedness and astigmatism. For several months, it was wonderful to be able to see without glasses, only needing “drugstore readers” for closeup work.  One day while sitting in my office, I noticed a problem with my right eye, like looking through a dirty window.  I was able to get into an ophthalmologist at the end of the day who diagnosed a retinal tear which caused bleeding inside my eye. That led to the first of several laser treatments and surgeries to repair the damage.  Eventually the left eye also developed tears and more surgery.  The net result is I have scar tissue on both retinas leaving me legally blind by the time we had moved to Oregon over ten years ago.

My wife’s late husband had vision issues as well as his two brothers.  Their experience with the local Council in Tennessee prompted her to encourage me to reach out to the Oregon Council.  Initially, OCB provided me with a cane, a larger computer screen and an enlarger device.  I only need the cane in few instances, like a dimly lit restaurant, and it sure has proven helpful parting the crowds in busy airports.  With the computer screen and enlarger, I was able to continue teaching at Western Oregon University.  With a drop in enrollment at Western, adjunct positions were cut back, especially for low enrollment courses including mine.  Wanting to offset the loss in teaching income, I decided to turn my woodworking hobby into a full-time small business.

OCB has many courses for visually impaired people to be able to develop adaptive skills in order to functional well and be able to be employed full time. One course is Woodworking for the Visually Impaired.  However, to access this I had to show that I could become a small business entrepreneur.  I worked with an outside contractor provided by OCB to develop a business plan including finances for the next 5 years. As part of the plan, I applied for a grant to buy special computer-controlled woodworking equipment which would increase my productivity as well as reduce the possibility of injury due to my limited sight. As well as the woodworking course, I received the equipment which has allowed me to significantly increase productivity of my regular items as well as accepting custom commissions. Several  regular products started out as a question: “can you make something like this?”

I have a website and several social media sites where I advertise my products and services.  My goal is to increase online sales as well as participating at regional craft events like the Handmade Holiday Market at the Yamhill County Heritage Museum (last two years). I have gone from a few craft shows each year, to 12 in 2023 and intend to increase that in 2024.

Creations by BG is still a small endeavor, I call myself “Chief Sawdust Producer” and my wife, Beth, is my  marketing and financial advisor as well as the “designated driver”. Visit my website,  to see the list of upcoming craft events. Contact me at