Low/No Vision Survival Tips

I am a big fan of organizational skills. It really saddens me to think of some of my friends who have experienced  recent vision loss, who struggle because of poor coping strategies. I have three friends in mind…Not one owns a pocket recorder, not one has used their stove in over a year, not one has cleaned their apartment or living space themselves in recent memory. It is no wonder that they are depressed! If I had no reliable means of keeping phone numbers and vital information at my fingertips….if I ate frozo dinners every day…if I had to pay strangers to clean up the place…I would be a mess too!  Perhaps you or a family member needs to re-organize your day to day means of surviving?  Here are a few ideas to pass on.

  •  There are several ways to keep track of telephone numbers. Create a Large Print list if your RV (residual vision) permits.  Or, have a handy micro cassette or regular cassette tape recorder nearby at all times. Create your alphabetical phone listings on one tape. Make a copy and store it…just in case the original is damaged, or you accidentaly tape over your listings. I have numerous recorders, but use one for phone work.  I like to travel with a micro cassette recorder. You never know when someone is going to spontaneously spout off the recipe you’ve been longing to have for that tofu frittata. Someone might want to give you an address, or directions, or appointment details.  Braille is a good option too, but don’t expect to learn it overnight. I use it for labeling. I also cary a slate and stylus (a portable system for Brailling notes). 
  • People who can make use of magnifyiers should have one with them ‘on the outside’. This might help with labels in a store or restaurant menus.
  • In the kitchen?  Use Large Print or Braille labels for your spice jars. (Braille label making machines are available) Use different sized or shaped jars to store things like dry legumes and flour and grains. Labeling extends to medication, CD’s etc.
  • To be able to identify two similar jars or bottles, like milk and cream, or jams, put an elastic band around one of them. Be consistent with the use of elastics, or else the whole idea is futile.
  • To mark numbers or settings on a microwave, put stick-on plastic ‘bump dots’. You can get a cheap version of  these at your local hardware store or ‘dollar store’ in the hardware section. Look for ‘surface guards’ or similar items. These will also work to mark stove and washing machine settings.
  • Most telephone keypads, including pay phones, come with a  raised tactile dot on the number five (5). You can also use large and contrasting inlays to mark telephone keypads and computer keyboards, Debit machines also should have a raised mark on the 5. If your bank does not, complain to the manager.
  • Some banks offer ‘audible banking’ machines. You just use any headphone set, plug in and receive voice instructions for some of those tricky transactions. 
  • Bills, like telephone and power are (or should be) available in Large Print or Braille. Bank statements and tax statements and other government information, definitely are.
  • Cleaning ‘schedules’ will keep you organized and almost guarantee that nothing creepy is growing or festering in the corner of your living room.
  • Vacuuming and floor washing is best done using a grid system. Start in one corner of the room and work methodically, cleaning a one square meter area at a time.
  • Buy similarly-coloured and textured socks. That way, it’s no big deal to match them up. 
  • Make cardboard tags in different geometric shapes, and use Large Print to mark clothing details: ‘Blue with white checks’. Punch a hole in the card and slip it over the hanger neck. Metal Braille tags are available to sew onto clothing (colour identification). Liquid tactile marking stuff is available in tubes which come in a variety of colours and are very handy (and cheap) for all sorts of things. Squeeze a bead onto a surface or material and it hardens to form a raised tactile dot. Kids can make maps and other things with them.
  • Pour liquids, especially hot ones, over the sink. 
  • If you have some vision, make use of contrast. Use white plates (no patterns) for dark food and the reverse for light ones. You can put a contrasting-coloured throw over that chair you run into all the time. Place your furniture sensibly, so it suits your needs. 
  • Put your ‘stuff’ in the same place all the time. I can’t tell you how often people say, “I can’t find it”. Sure, it happens to the most organized person on occasion, but a good attempt to house things in the same location, will keep your frustration level down, and waste less of your time.
  • Make rules for visitors: Don’t move my stuff! Don’t leave your stuff in my footpath! Don’t leave cupboard doors open! It’s your place and there’s nothing wrong with insisting on respect for your survival techniques.
  • Lots of keys? Use rubber key head grips (all colours) to differentiate them. A couple of small pieces of tape can mark anything too, so that you know what it is.
  • Your telephone company probably offers 411 (directory information) free (up to 100 per  month) to anyone who is registered by an organization for the Blind as ‘legally blind’.
  • Baskets are your friend! group similar items in containers or baskets.
  • Learn to fold paper bills (money) in different ways for each denomination (twenty lengthwise, fives in half…). audible bank note readers are available. 
  • Stick your shap cutting knife blade  under the chopping board when you leave it temporarily to do something else.
  • Use a ‘straight edge’ as a signature guide.  Put the guide under the place where you want to sign. This could be a ruler, credit card or other ID card.
  • Keep small items together in a pillow case or mesh bag for laundering  in the washer.
  • Libraries for the Blind have audio books available. It can be set up through the direct service organization for the blind in your area. Public Libraries also have audio books. Many bookshops carry them. Audio books can be downloaded from a variety of sites.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of ‘gadgets’ for the use of people who are Blind or have low vision. Some are very useful, others are silly. You can find talking calculators, watches, clocks, thermometers, pedometers, colour detectors, light detectors, thermostats, bathroom scale, blood pressure monitors, glucometers,TV remotes, …just about every possible item. There are beeping water level indicators, computer software, Braille and large print versions of playing cards and games like, Monopoly. In fact, if you HAVE the money, and CHOOSE to spend it, you can turn your home into a talking, beeping extravaganza. Personally, I think it’s more of a nightmare. I like to keep the sound assault down to a minimum. There are many more tips and suggestions that I will reveal in the future. Organizations (direct service) for the Blind and catalogue stores that sell products for independant living are useful resources.

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One response to “Low/No Vision Survival Tips

  1. visionsdenied

    You are an inspiration in so many ways and especially for someone like myself, who recently became visually impaired.

    Wonderful suggestions and creative too.

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