Tips, Strategies, & Resources from
People Living with Vision Loss
Produced by the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, A Peer Network for All Who Are Impacted by Vision Loss
Our mission is to promote independence and opportunities for all people who live with vision loss or blindness.
Coping with Vision Loss
Grieving the Loss
Everyone Needs to Adjust
Providing Appropriate Support
Understanding Vision Loss
Communicate Your Presence and Absence
Make the most of Sensory Cues
Inside the Home
A Protective Technique can assist
Think Slow, Small, and Soft
Venturing beyond the Home
Being a Human Guide
White Canes and Guide Dogs
Maximizing Remaining Vision
Assistive Technology& Devices
Accomplishing Daily Living Tasks
Reading and Writing
Accessing Home Appliances
Managing around the Kitchen
Enjoying Food and Drink
Clothing & Laundry
Enjoying Leisure Time
Audio Described Programming
Crafts and Hobbies
When a loved one has been diagnosed with a permanent vision loss or a chronic disease that will result in decreasing vision, coping with the news can be difficult. As peers who have faced and overcome the challenges of vision loss, we assure you that losing sight does not mean your loved one has to lose independence or productivity. The purpose of this document is to share with you a myriad of strategies and adaptations you might try to make environments and experiences more accessible for your loved one. Also included is information about a variety of devices, both low-tech and high-tech that may assist with many tasks. The ideas we present here have been gathered through firsthand experiences of individuals whose vision levels range from those with much remaining usable vision to those who are totally blind. While these suggestions can be tried and implemented immediately, they should not take the place of formal rehabilitation services. Only when your loved one receives professional assessment and training can you be assured that they possess the appropriate strategies and long-term solutions customized to best overcome the vision loss. As you journey through this process, focus on empowering and enabling your loved one to do as much as they can independently. Remember that PCB peers stand ready to provide you and your loved one with additional guidance and resources, as necessary. Simply call 877-617-7407 or email email@example.com. We would be happy to connect you or your loved one with a peer who has experienced vision loss directly or through a loved one.
Coping with Vision Loss
Grieving the Loss
Vision loss can be jarring, unsettling, and traumatic for anyone because relying on sight to accomplish most tasks will no longer work. Giving up the freedom of a driver’s license, no longer communicating nonverbally through eye contact, and the inability to recognize people’s faces can be some of the most difficult emotional challenges. Like any loss, acceptance and eventual adjustment to the new reality requires a grieving process that has no set time or schedule. Professional counseling is always the best place to look to help you or your loved one get through the five stages of grief. That’s right, you too will be grieving for the loss of your loved one’s independence, the visual connection you once shared, or the lifestyle that has been altered.
Denial: Denial of having vision loss is the first stage of grief. You or your loved one may not believe it is happening. Your loved one may feel as if they can still see just as well as always. They may have difficulty talking about vision loss and seem to totally ignore any conversation about vision loss. That’s OK. They are coping in this way until they are emotionally strong enough to give up their denial. Continue being supportive, offering help, and giving your loved one space.
Anger: Once you or your loved one is ready to move forward from denying vision loss, one may feel angry. Lashing out at others, isolating oneself, or being easily frustrated may be a sign of anger. Your loved one may be angry at life, God, the Universe, doctors, or the world. Patience is especially important. Try not to take their anger personally. They may lash out if you offer help, if you do not offer enough help, or you do not offer the right kind of help. Again, a good counselor could help you and your loved one communicate their needs in safe, warm, productive ways to get through this difficult stage.
Bargaining: At the bargaining stage, you or your loved one may ask, “What could I have done to prevent this from happening?” Sometimes there is a push to seek out more medical advice to see if regaining vision is a possibility. Other times, there are efforts to just get vision to return. After all attempts have failed, there is a loss of hope.
Depression: Once you or your loved one has gone through the bargaining stage, and if vision has not been restored, depression may arise. Depression can be a challenging time. Feelings of giving up, worthlessness, or shame surrounding having a vision impairment may be present. Again, it is during this time that a counselor would be best. As you are assisting your loved one, try to give them space to have their feelings, but continue to invite them to engage in activities in which they can participate. Invite them to family functions, family outings, or fun activities in the community. It is at this time, your loved one may want to be left alone or may feel lonely. You may even say, “why would they want to go to a little league game, a movie, or take a walk in the park? Use the techniques in this booklet to help them feel safe and included. Social activities around supportive people can help your loved one bare the heavy feelings of vision loss, and eventually it will help them shake off the weight of depression.
Acceptance: Once you and your loved one have accepted vision loss, it does not mean the difficult feelings have gone away, instead it means you have gained the strength to realize the loss is true, and now you say, “what must I do.” Acceptance is not just a one-time event, but it is an ongoing process. Your loved one may start feeling that they can try to move forward, learn new strategies to accomplish daily living tasks, and find accessible activities to pursue. Use the tips and strategies within this booklet to help your loved one regain the ability to live independently again.
Everyone Needs to Adjust
Ignoring the vision loss is not an option. Vision loss changes everyone’s life: a family, the workplace, and social circles. Along with your loved one’s change in vision comes a change in abilities, ways of doing things, and responsibilities within established patterns. Disruption of these established patterns may cause anxiety and resentment among family members, work colleagues, and friends. This is especially true if your loved one is a breadwinner, homemaker, key employee, or social leader. While your loved one is working through the many facets of vision loss, those around them will have to change assumptions, adjust expectations, and take on new roles. All this change can be fraught with emotional upset if not addressed appropriately.
We recommend the person losing vision and their immediate family members work together with a family therapy professional, preferably one who has experience in working with people with disabilities. Such a professional can provide a safe place for expressing challenging emotions and offer strategies that can minimize the effect of the vision loss on the entire family. In the work setting, the person with vision loss may need to submit requests for job accommodations based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. HR professionals can assist in keeping the loved one and their colleagues in the loop as accommodations are worked out. Meaningful conversations should be held with friends to discuss how they feel impacted by the loved one’s vision loss. Moving forward, you will need to address how friends can be both supported and supportive through the adjustment process.
Vision loss can be a lonely experience, especially if your loved one refuses to share their feelings and participate in structured counseling. Many people with vision loss show initial resistance to counseling, but you, as a family member, colleague, or friend, should encourage your loved one to use this powerful tool. Studies have shown that people with vision loss who participate in structured counseling reach “acceptance” much more quickly and enjoy a greater degree of integration in the family, workplace, and social circle than those who do not get counseling. In the best case, the vision loss can serve as a catalyst for better communication, growth, and a marked improvement in the quality of life for everyone.
Providing Appropriate Support
Keep in mind that regardless of visual ability, the person with vision loss is the same individual you have always known and loved. Do not lower your expectations for their independence and future. Instead, empower your loved one by sharing these tips. Encourage the individual as they learn new skills. Respect these new strategies for accomplishing the same life tasks, just differently. While it is appropriate to offer help, do not insist on doing tasks for them to save time and frustration. This behavior only results in a dependent loved one with low or no self-confidence. Be patient and allow your loved one the opportunity to explore the usefulness of each of their remaining senses and experiment to find the alternative methods that will work best. As much as possible, offer a positive attitude and enthusiastic energy that motivates your loved one to become self-reliant once again.
Understanding Vision Loss
While clinical descriptions of how a specific disease or diagnosis will affect one’s ability to see, the real-world impact on your loved one’s sight should not be assumed. Often vision can fluctuate from day to day and from environment to environment. Sometimes, an individual has a “sweet spot” in the visual field where vision is much clearer and usable. There are even instances where the person can see a fallen object on the floor, but not a chair right in front of them. As you begin to assist your loved one, it will be important to have them help you understand how different variables affect any remaining vision.
Communicate Your Presence and Absence
Always let your loved one know when you enter or exit the room or if you are already in a room when they enter it. If the person’s vision loss no longer allows for recognizing faces, over time, they may become familiar with recognizing voices. Whenever you are in a public situation or at a social gathering, it would be appropriate for you to identify yourself as you begin speaking. Discerning voices in crowded, loud, and varying situational contexts can be difficult. Avoid questions such as “Guess who?” or “Don’t you know who I am?” as these can be demeaning and frustrating to the person with vision loss. In conversation, speak at the same volume and rate that you always have. Let your loved one know when you are leaving the conversation area, so they do not continue talking in your absence.
Allow the person with vision loss to make choices on food, clothing, and all activities of daily life. For example, you can help by offering to read a menu, but they can, and should, speak to the wait-staff directly about meal selections. You can assist with organizing a closet by placing a complete outfit together on one hanger, but your loved one can certainly select which one to wear. Your assistance in making tactile markings, setting up organizational strategies, gathering adaptive devices, and suggesting alternate methods will be vital to create an environment where your loved one can function and succeed. You will be the facilitator that enables your loved one to regain independence. When you help to implement ways to transform the visual information into accessible formats that your loved one can use, your loved one can be as informed, functional, and productive as always.
Make the most of Sensory Cues
While it is not true that your loved one will miraculously acquire super senses because of the vision loss, it is possible for them to become more attuned to the remaining senses once the visual feedback is no longer dependable. Encourage the person with vision loss to pay closer attention to all sensory cues to create a virtual image of the environment. Every home has a sound pattern. For example, hallways sound different than open areas. Rooms with lots of furniture and carpet have a softer, more muffled sound than a room with the hard, echoing surfaces of a kitchen. Close your eyes and take note of the everyday sounds within the home: the hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of a clock, the whisper of the ventilation system. Each of these represent a sound landmark that can help your loved one target and navigate. Likewise, there are texture differences in floor coverings such as carpet, tile, wood, and vinyl. These texture transitions under foot can provide tactile clues when moving throughout the home. Household smells from cooking, kitty litter, fabric softener, air freshener, and perfume might also be useful feedback for your loved one’s orientation.
Your loved one might feel safer walking around with a handout at waist height to trail along walls and countertops. Trailing is a great way to locate doorways, especially in a long hallway. If there is any question about locating the top of stairs, place a sound or tactile cue nearby to indicate when your loved one is approaching them. If the person has enough functional vision remaining to recognize color or pattern changes, consider adding visual indicators such as a sharp contrast paint on door frames or a brightly colored poster/print on a wall near a door or the stairs.
Inside the Home
Keeping walkways and paths clear of obstacles is the first consideration. Avoid placing handbags, packages, shoes, toys, and similar items in a path where a person may stumble over them, causing a fall. Make sure to remove or secure tripping hazards such as throw rugs and electric cords from walkways. Place chairs under the table rather than pulled away from the table in the walk area. Doors left ajar or slightly open are much more dangerous than when closed or opened fully. The edge of a door is harder to locate than an open space or closed door. This is also true for cabinet doors or drawers. Keep them fully closed when not in use and opened wide when they are in use. Alert your loved one of an open cabinet or drawer if they are nearby.
A Protective Technique can assist
As your loved one moves about the home, they may feel safer if using a protective technique to prevent injury from obstacles. By placing an arm diagonally across the head and about six inches in front of the face, they may be able to avoid head injuries from low hanging or protruding objects. Protecting the face in this manner is always a good idea when your loved one bends over to pick up fallen items, as they may not realize how close the edge of a table or counter is. The lower body can be protected with the same diagonal blocking across the hip area to prevent injury from the corner of a table or such. The idea is to use the arm as a bumper.
Think Slow, Small, and Soft
As your loved one navigates at home and elsewhere, encourage them to think slow, small, and soft. Haste can cause damage to stuff, self, and others. One of the biggest changes in your loved one’s life will be coming to terms with the fact that they will just have to slow down and be more deliberate with their movement in space and their motions around them. Along with slowing down, your loved one will also have to learn to move in smaller motions. Big sweeping gestures or sudden lurches do not work well when you can’t see what is around you. After much practice, your loved one will achieve their own rhythms, but early on and as a rule of thumb, smaller is better. Finally, while your loved one is moving slower in small motions, they will do best to be soft with their environment. Soft fingers reaching, soft hands trailing and exploring, soft hips navigating along or around objects, your loved one needs to be subtle and supple as they negotiate their differently-interpreted reality.
Venturing beyond the Home
It is likely that your loved one will become adept at safely moving about their home independently by employing all the methods discussed thus far. Venturing outside the controlled environment of home, though, will require formal instruction in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) to learn how to overcome the ever-changing challenges of the community. An O & M Specialist can provide your loved one with a white cane and several methods for utilizing the cane to detect obstacles, street crossings, stairs, orientation landmarks, and more. The specialist will also assist your loved one in determining traffic patterns for safe crossings and the best travel routes to preferred destinations. With training and practice, your loved one can become fully independent in the local community or around the world. Until then, be willing to be a human guide for your loved one.
Being a Human Guide
You can safely assist your loved one to move indoors and outdoors using human guide technique. The first rule to keep in mind so you avoid injuries and falls is to never pull or push the person with vision loss. You should always be in the lead! This can be easily accomplished by offering your arm to your loved one to hold. Have them grasp your arm above the elbow. You can either keep your arm bent and at your waist or let it hang for more comfort. If your loved one is much taller than you, have them place a hand on your shoulder instead. If you are guiding a child or someone much shorter, have the person with vision loss grasp your wrist extended at your side. The key here is to remember that the loved one holds onto you; this way if the person is walking with you and needs to stop they can communicate this by letting go. Keep to your normal pace of walking. If you feel the person hesitating, you can slow. Conversely, if you feel that your arm is being pushed forward, you can increase your pace. Your loved one should always be a half-step behind and to your side unless the path requires otherwise. The key is for you to choose a path that allows room enough for both of you.
When traveling through a narrow space, place your arm across your back, suggesting by this movement that your loved one should step directly behind you and move single file. When approaching a door, place your hand on the doorknob and let the person know which way the door is opening. For example, you can say, ”The door is opening toward us on our right,” or “The door is opening on the left away from us.” You may need to switch the arm doing the guiding to free up your loved one’s hand closest to the door so they can assist in manipulating the door as the two of you pass through.
When approaching stairs, you should pause before taking the first step. Tell your loved one if the stairs go up or down and how many steps there are. If a rail is present, let your loved one know on which side it is located. Again, you may need to switch arms so your loved one can use the rail with the free hand. The safest way to make the side switch is to have the person with vision loss remain still while you move across them, again offering your arm. Where stairs are of uneven lengths or depths, giving extra verbal clues may be helpful.
When guiding your loved one to a chair, place their hand on the back of the chair when the chair is pulled under a table or desk. The back of the chair provides some tactile clues, including which direction the chair is facing. When a chair is placed along a wall or in a row, approach the seat standing directly in front. You can place the person’s hand on the seat edge allowing them to locate the seat and turn to sit. You can also place a hand on the top of the seat back and explain the chair’s position.
As you and your loved one begin the guiding partnership, it may be helpful to provide additional cues about the environment such as when you are approaching a crowd, if rough terrain is up ahead, or that you are getting ready to cross a street. Your loved one might also appreciate if you describe some of the environment as you walk along. For example, businesses you are passing, signs and advertisements, interesting landscaping, or what other people are doing. How little or much information your loved one wants or requires will become second nature to you with practice.
White Canes and Guide Dogs
While it is understandable that your loved one might prefer walking by sighted guide, it is imperative that they eventually learn independent travel skills from a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). The white cane can provide your loved one with a sensitive tool that can transmit all kinds of information about the immediate vicinity, ranging from the location of trees, people, curbs, and other objects, to the surrounding topography, be it cement, grass, cobblestones, or tactile crossing markers. The cane is moved along the ground in an ark just beyond the width of your loved one’s body to make sure the path is clear. If the cane taps an obstacle, your loved one knows to navigate around it. When used correctly, the white cane can greatly enhance your loved one’s confidence and freedom of movement. Another important feature of the white cane is that it serves as an identifier to the sighted world that a blind person is present, allowing sighted people around them, whether driving, walking, or observing, to act accordingly. Just know, however, it is exactly this identifying function that might cause your loved one to “fight the cane,” seeing it as some kind of big neon sign saying, “Here comes the blind person.” With gentle but persistent encouragement, your loved one should learn to use the cane and appreciate its many purposes.
While some blind people use a white cane, others use a guide dog. Guide dogs are provided for free by several guide dog schools throughout the country. Most schools require that the potential guide dog user, the handler, have good cane skills and attend training at the school’s residential campus. However, some schools offer what is called “hometown training,” where the trainer and the dog come to your loved one’s home and train them with the dog in the places and along the routes they will be using. PCB has a special interest affiliate, Pennsylvania Guide Dog Users and Supporters (PAGDUS), dedicated to supporting guide dog handlers and educating the public about the rights and responsibilities of service animals.
Being a guide dog handler is a big responsibility and might be something that your loved one considers down the road. As soon as your loved one is emotionally ready though, it is vital for them to learn how to use the white cane, and consistently use it.
At first, you and other family members or friends might be your loved one’s only and preferred source of transportation. However, such an arrangement is not sustainable or desirable. Too often, sighted drivers grow tired of taxiing the person with vision loss who, in turn, senses this irritation and chooses to limit their forays outside the house so they do not overtax their precious source of rides. Instead, the loved one should be encouraged to explore transportation options in their community. While rural areas might pose transportation challenges, most urban and suburban areas offer a variety of transportation options.
Many public transportation agencies offer accessible schedules (as mandated by law) and a paratransit system that “parallels” the regular bus routes. This paratransit system is specifically designed to serve people with disabilities, including vision loss. If your loved one qualifies, they can access this system, make reservations, and get door-to-door service to anywhere the paratransit system goes. Paratransit can be a great boon to your loved one and can give them great transportation freedom and flexibility.
Another transportation option for your loved one can be Uber or Lyft. Both operate a cashless system through a phone app that is accessible to your loved one through the accessibility features on their phone. Once the app is set up, your loved one can summon a ride and go anywhere they desire. It is recommended that your loved one text the driver prior to pick up, stating something like, “Hello. I am a blind man/woman with a white cane standing in front of [insert location]. Please let me know when you arrive. Thank you.” Chances are, your loved one will be the only blind person with a white cane in that location so the driver will have little difficulty identifying them and alerting them to the presence of their ride. Both Uber and Lyft are required by statute and by company policy to accept passengers with guide dogs, even if the driver is allergic to dogs or has a religious objection to transporting dogs. If a driver cancels a ride because the rider has a guide dog, both services have functions on their apps to lodge a complaint and get a refund.
Maximizing Remaining Vision
Depending on your loved one’s diagnosis or injury, they may retain some functional vision. If so, adaptive strategies that address lighting, contrast, and magnification can make the most of the remaining vision. While we explore some suggestions here, a Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT) should be consulted. The CLVT can conduct an evaluation using many tools and options so a customized solution can be implemented. It must be noted, however, that your loved one’s visual acuity may vary throughout the day, between differing environments, and depending on the rate of change in their vision. This variability can be frustrating and scary for you and your loved one. If you both understand that variability is just a fact and is something to be incorporated into a dynamic approach to maximizing vision, you will both feel less stressed and be more adept.
Managing light sources can be of great benefit to your loved one. Often, a direct, adjustable light such as a goose-neck lamp can make reading and hand-tasks like knitting easier. Similarly, placing lighting under kitchen cabinets can provide direct light on countertops to aid food preparation. If your loved one is sensitive to bright overhead room lights, they may be more comfortable lighting the room with lamps, wall sconces, or a dimmable overhead source. Keep in mind that windows are also a light source with changing brightness and glare throughout the day. It may be helpful for your loved one to control window light by using shades, blinds, and curtains. By making sure television and computer screens do not have a glare from an overhead light and are not directly in front of a window, you may be able to cut down on your loved one’s eye fatigue and discomfort. If glare and brightness are an ongoing challenge, suggest the individual try wearing lightly tinted sunglasses, even indoors.
Another strategy for enabling your loved one to make the most of remaining vision is by using contrast colors whenever possible. For example, when it comes to reading, your loved one may benefit from using colored acetate sheets over printed material such as newspapers or low-contrast print material. To locate specific buttons on an appliance, keyboard, thermostat, or the like, use bright dot stickers. Similarly, using bright colored folders to sort papers might be helpful. If writing has become a challenge, suggest that your loved one use bold-lined paper and dark, Sharpie-style pens which stand out better on the white page. Mealtime may be made more manageable by having both light and dark place settings. For instance, a light-colored mug would be better for seeing coffee, while for rice, a dark plate might work best. Similarly, a two-way cutting board with a light side and a dark side might make cutting and chopping easier and safer. If your loved one will be navigating stairs, consider edging each step with high contrast tape or paint for higher visibility. Emphasize the edge of a light-colored tub by placing a dark bathmat over the edge to prevent tripping.
Your loved one’s visual ability may be improved through magnification. Magnifiers come in the form of optical acrylic hand magnifiers and electronic magnifiers. Although convenient to purchase, hand-held magnifiers available in general retail stores typically will not exceed three times enlargement strength. While a lighted device or a light placed under the magnifier may help, your loved one may require a prescription-strength lens for best function. If your loved one’s vision will continue to decline or if it fluctuates from day-to-day, an electronic magnifier may be a better magnification option. These magnifiers use a camera lens to project the image onto a screen which has variable controls for enlargement size and contrast colors. Some of these magnifiers are very portable with only a 2-inch screen so your loved one can easily carry it in a purse or backpack for use when reading a menu or street sign. Other styles are full-sized screens with a tray underneath so they can read and write at length. Today, another magnifier option is an app on a tablet or smartphone. Utilizing the device camera, an enlarged image will be shown on its screen.
Remember that bigger is not always better, especially regarding the size of television and computer screens. Televisions that are quite large are designed to be viewed at further distances. If the person with vision loss moves closer the screen may be bigger but blurrier, as the spaces between pixels of the television will be more evident. The computer screen should not be too large so that your loved one will have to move to see the entire screen. Most find that a screen size of smaller than twenty-seven inches in diagonal works best. A Low-Vision Specialist can demonstrate a variety of magnifier options for different tasks and determine the solution that works best.
Assistive Technology& Devices
From computers to mobile devices, to talking products, the world of assistive technology offers many ways for your loved one to live, work, learn, and play. Built-in accessibility has become the norm in many mainstream technology products. At the same time, talking devices, designed specifically for people with vision loss are now available through mainstream retailers. It’s never been easier to find technology solutions for loved ones with vision loss.
Many kinds of electronic gadgets have been designed to assist people with vision loss with basic daily living needs. Consider that your loved one may do better with less complex, stand-alone, assistive products. For keeping time, watches, alarm clocks, and timers are all available in talking, tactile, or large display options. If your loved one needs to monitor health conditions, consider talking glucometers, blood-pressure machines, thermometers, and pulse-oximeters. Talking and large-display bathroom and kitchen scales are available. Other talking devices include money and color identifiers, meat thermometers, calculators, thermostats, caller ID boxes, and digital book players. Unfortunately, purchasing all these individual items may be cost prohibitive for your loved one, because, although readily available, each can be expensive. However, the world of apps, especially for the iPhone, can provide low- and no-cost solutions.
Today’s smart phones and tablets offer a growing collection of assistive functions for people with vision loss. Whether your loved one prefers iOS or Android, accessibility has been built into all recent versions of devices, including large fonts, high color contrast, screen magnification, and screen-reading speech output. All factory-included apps on the device such as texting, calendar, clock, notes, voice memos, reminders, weather, calculator, phone, contacts, email, internet, etc. are all fully accessible to your loved one. They can also download many other apps specifically created to assist with daily living tasks such as color, money, and object identification, contacting a live sighted assistant, converting print documents to speech, and navigating city streets. You can find a listing of iOS apps specifically for people with vision loss by visiting applevis.com. For a listing of Android apps, check out inclusiveandroid.com. Of course, many mainstream apps for transportation, shopping, ordering from restaurants, banking, controlling home appliances, socializing, streaming shows and movies, playing games, and more are also accessible and could really add to your loved one’s independence.
Like their mobile counterparts, both Windows and Apple computers include built-in accessibility options that will allow your loved one to enlarge fonts, change contrast colors, magnify the screen, and have everything read aloud. You may need to navigate through the utilities menus to turn on the features for your loved one. In Windows, the utility is called Narrator. For Apple computers and devices, it’s Voiceover for speech and Zoom for screen magnification. Other screen magnification and screen reading software products are available if your loved one seeks more robust accessibility options. Other programs include JAWS (Job Access with Speech), Magic, and NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access).
Your loved one may find it easier to begin using the keyboard to track the cursor rather than navigating with a mouse. Keyboards, with the keys labeled in large print, are available for purchase, as are stickers to adapt their current keyboard. Like the 5 key on a standard phone, the F and J keys on a standard keyboard are marked with a raised feature to aid in orienting your loved one’s fingers on the device. Learning how to operate a computer with limited vision will take practice, but eventually, your loved one should be able to resume usual computer tasks. Many people with vision loss seek training from a Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist (CATIS) to more quickly relearn the computer using the accessibility software.
The continuing advancements in artificial intelligence and universal design mean more off-the-shelf products are becoming operable by people with vision loss. For example, talking assistants like Amazon’s Echo devices operate through vocal instructions. Using just the voice, your loved one can order a pizza, shop for housewares, play a game, make a phone call, ask for a baseball score, and more when they activate skills on the device. Appliances whose displays might be impossible for your loved one to see may be useable through Bluetooth technology paired with an accessible smart phone or Echo-like device. Cable companies such as Comcast have created talking remote controls and menus that allow full navigation of cable functions like recording shows, watching an on-demand movie, and activating an audio description track whenever available. People who have no vision are successfully navigating malls, grocery stores, and airports through a real-time video link to sighted assistants from providers like Aira and Be My Eyes. The possibilities are endless and continue to evolve.
Accomplishing Daily Living Tasks
In this section we will offer ideas for helping your loved one get on with the basics of living. With the advances in assistive technology and the mainstream availability of adaptive products, regaining independence has never been more achievable for people with vision loss. Establishing independence can be achieved through developing systems and habits to get and stay organized and using a variety of senses and techniques to make all tasks accessible. Be patient and supportive as you and your loved one figure out which solutions will work best for their circumstances. Your loved one should consider formal rehabilitation skills training either at a residential center or through home visits from a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) to learn an array of adaptive techniques.
Reading and Writing
Despite vision loss, it will still be possible for your loved one to enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, and other reading materials. Many mainstream book publishers and sellers have a broad selection of large print offerings. The commercial market of audio-recorded books and periodicals continues to grow. If your loved one has enjoyed getting news and books electronically via e-readers and tablets, most of those devices have built-in accessibility features that allow for enlarging the text or reading content aloud. For the widest selection of accessible materials, encourage your loved one to register for free with the National Library Service which offers an audio collection of thousands of books and over one hundred mainstream magazines at nlsbard.loc.gov. Other services providing accessible information include Bookshare for scanned versions of materials at bookshare.org; Learning Ally for accessible textbooks at learningally.org; and Newsline for access to newspapers at nfbnewsline.org. These resources may require some proof of vision loss, usually, a letter from your loved one’s doctor, a hospital social worker, or a rehabilitation professional.
For shorter reading tasks, there are other effective options. Apps have been created for both Android and iOS devices that will allow your loved one to either snap a picture or shoot a real-time image of written words which it then speaks aloud. So, for example, they would be able to read the back of cake mixes, a take-out menu, or a piece of mail. It would be helpful if you would prepare typically hand-written items such as recipes, directions, and personal correspondence on a computer using a larger, simpler font such as Arial 18 point. If your loved one cannot reliably read their own writing, suggest an accessible digital recorder such as from Olympus so they can record notes, grocery lists, contact information, and more. For longer or more valuable information that will need to be referred to repeatedly such as an instruction booklet or schedule, consider reading these materials into a recorded file that your loved one can access anytime.
As mentioned earlier, the use of bold-lined paper and a Sharpie marker may be sufficient for your loved one’s writing needs. If not, cardboard or plastic writing guides that have tactile line cut-outs are great tools. Guides exist for two sizes of envelopes, signatures, full-sheets, and checks. Most guides can be purchased individually or in a set. Your loved one might prefer to use bold, raised-lined checks which are offered by many banks because they also provide a larger writing area. Large print address books, check registers, and calendars are also available with expanded writing areas. Of course, another option for written communication is electronic. With assistive technology such as screen magnification and screen reading software, your loved one may choose to use online banking for bill-paying and email for correspondence.
Another tool for reading and writing is Braille. Braille uses a system of raised dots to represent letters, combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. Braille is not for everyone with vision loss as it is an involved adaptive technique that requires many hours of study and regular use to remain proficient. It can be helpful if your loved one has to take many notes or cannot access electronic versions of documents. Besides hard-copy braille documents, there are devices with what is called “refreshable braille” that display successive lines of braille as your loved one navigates a document, app, or website. Braille is not for everyone, but even a rudimentary knowledge of the basics could be useful for labeling items, preparing a grocery list, jotting a phone number, or the like.
Currently, despite a court order mandating the U.S. Mint to implement accessible paper currency, U.S. paper money does not offer any tactile indicators to assist in differentiating denominations. Therefore, encourage your loved one to develop a system of organizing it that works best to quickly identify the bills. Your loved one might consider a folding system where each denomination is folded differently, such as ones kept flat, fives folded in half the regular way, tens folded in half horizontally, and twenties folded in thirds. Instead, individuals may prefer to physically separate denominations such as using envelopes for each denomination that is either clearly marked in large print or which uses a tactile indicator on the envelope such as no indicator on the one’s envelope, a single staple on the five’s, two staples on the ten’s, or three on the twenty’s. Suggest that your loved one get in the habit of always asking the clerk to identify the bills as they are offering change. Your loved one can be independent with money management by using either a money identifier app on a smart phone or the free iBill currency identifier device from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP. Request the iBill from the BEP at moneyfactory.gov. Upon inserting a bill, the iBill will indicate the denomination either through speech, vibration, or tone, based on your loved one’s preference. Since most ATM ‘s offer spoken guidance, getting additional cash should not be a problem. Your loved one will need to bring along a standard set of headphones or earbuds to plug in and activate the spoken guidance.
Coins do have tactile indicators which can help your loved one identify them correctly. The quarter is the largest of the four most common coins and has a ridged edge. Dimes are the smallest and thinnest and have a ridged edge. Nickels are the thickest coin, have a smooth edge, and are slightly smaller than the quarter. Pennies have a smooth edge, are bigger than dimes and smaller than quarters. If your loved one has sensitive fingertips, they may also be able to differentiate using the designs texture on the tail’s side of each coin.
Accessing Home Appliances
By labeling panels and knobs with tactile or high-contrast-colored markings, your loved one can become fully independent in managing home appliances. The key is not to over label; otherwise remembering what each marked area does can be overwhelming. Consult with your loved one about which settings or functions are most used before proceeding. For example, on a panel-operated appliance such as a microwave, your loved one may only need the 2, 4, 6, and 8 buttons on the keypad marked because they can orient their fingers to the other numbers based on visual memory of a standard keypad layout. Labeling all ten numbers might be too crowded to navigate. Of course, you would want to mark the start, stop, and clear/cancel buttons as well. You can use items such as Velcro squares, felt circles, puff paint lines or dots, foam letters, or the like. If your loved one prefers, Bump Dots in assorted colors, shapes and sizes can be purchased through online retailers. For appliances that use knobs, you may need to mark the pointer of the dial and the common setting options around the dial. For best results, we recommend using puff paint for the dots. This way, your loved one need only align the pointer dot with the setting dot for selection.
Managing around the Kitchen
There are several aids and strategies that will allow your loved one to function more independently and safely in the kitchen. We strongly recommend that your loved one gets formal skills training from a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) before attempting to cook with grills, stovetops, ovens, and fryers. The CVRT will be able to teach your loved one techniques for managing these hot surfaces safely. The CVRT will train your loved one sensorial methods to use texture, sound, temperature, timing, smell, and more to ensure food is cooked through.
Early on, with careful attention to the task, your loved one may be able to accomplish basic meal preparation using the microwave, slow cooker, toaster, can-opener, coffee machine, Instant Pot, etc. Increasingly, manufacturers are offering kitchen appliances with Bluetooth capabilities which can be accessed by your loved one through a smart phone or smart device. Consider getting your loved one measuring cups and spoons with large or tactile numbers in high-contrast colors such as the Pourfect brand. Another useful aid to consider is a liquid level indicator. When placed on the edge of a cup or bowl, this device will vibrate or beep when the liquid touches the over-hanging prongs, so overflow is not a problem.
When it comes to cleaning up the dishes, your loved one will excel because dirt residue can be felt and targeted. Of course, extra care should be taken with knives.
Spend some time helping your loved one become reoriented to where everything is in the kitchen and then every effort should be made to keep items in their place so your loved one can easily locate them when necessary. For example, always arrange silverware the same way in a drawer and return potholders to the same location when not in use. As much as possible, within your loved one’s household, this practice of having a designated spot for items should be carried through to all rooms and collective spaces. Establish a regular place for items in the refrigerator and the pantry so things can quickly be located.
Encourage your loved one to become familiar with products using their remaining senses. They can explore the different sounds when products are shaken, smells items have, shapes of packages and containers, product weight and density variations, and (if applicable) bright visuals on labels. Even some canned goods can be differentiated because of the can’s height, circumference, pull tab, base, or sound when shaken. Items which cannot readily be identified should be made identifiable with rubber bands, tape, large print tags, partially peeling a label, or similar. Seeing AI, a free smartphone app includes a barcode identifier which can help your loved one identify unknown items in the fridge or pantry.
Enjoying Food and Drink
Until your loved one receives rehabilitation therapy, suggest that when pouring liquids, they either hold the glass over the sink or place it on a tray to contain any spillage. A great option for enjoying coffee, tea or hot chocolate would be a Keurig-style machine, thus avoiding the necessity of pouring hot liquids. It may be helpful to use baskets or trays to keep everyday items such as coffee and tea fixings together and easily accessible on a countertop. Encouraging your loved one to use a cup with a lid when moving from point to point might prevent spills. Explain to your loved one that when searching for a cup or glass on any surface, they should search slowly in a grid pattern with their hand kept close to the surface to avoid toppling items or, even more distressingly, whisking them off onto the floor. Other members of the household should take extra care to communicate when and where they have set an open drink out of the norm. Tell your loved one if the drink you are handing them contains a straw or spoon. This can avoid embarrassing situations and prevent eye injury.
In most cases, the brighter the dining area is, the better your loved one will be able to use any remaining vision. Remember that place settings with high color contrast to the table or placemat may also be beneficial. If your loved one is unable to differentiate items on the plate, offer to describe the contents by using clock positions. For example, “Chicken at six o’clock and green beans at three o’clock.”
Through vision rehabilitation therapy, your loved one will learn techniques for mealtime including cutting meat, spreading butter, and scooping up small vegetables. Until formal rehabilitation occurs, offer your loved one some suggestions and guidance. Rather than trying to cut up all the meat at once, use the fork to locate and hold the edge of the meat and cut a bite at a time. Using a slice of bread or roll can assist in scooping small items onto a fork or spoon. Serve hard-to-pickup foods like peas and corn in a bowl on the side and eat with a spoon. It’s okay to offer your loved one assistance with cutting meat, spreading butter on a roll, or dressing a salad, but the best assistance you can offer is to keep encouraging your loved one toward independence. Experience has shown that persons with vision loss may develop habits that might prove embarrassing in public. Don’t be shy about lovingly suggesting that your loved one could employ a more socially-accepted method when eating and drinking.
As your loved one faces the emotional challenges of vision loss, you will want to make sure they continue to look and feel great physically. Personal tasks such as grooming, dressing, managing medication, and staying healthy can all be achieved without vision. Once again, your loved one may need you to assist with helping to become more organized, learn to use alternate senses, and try new techniques. Consulting with a CVRT will provide even more ideas for adapting personal care routines.
Just as in the kitchen, being able to locate personal items reliably and quickly in the bathroom will save time and frustration daily. Offer to assist your loved one with organizing their bathroom drawers and shelves by marking toiletries, first-aid supplies, make-up, soaps and shampoos, linens, and the like. While it can be easy to tactually differentiate items such as bandages, tape, and cotton balls, the various bathroom items that come in bottles and tubes should be labeled with tactile or large print labels so your loved one can access them without delay or confusion. If your loved one will be sharing a toothbrush holder, designate a specific spot for their brush or consider a designated color of brush for easier identification. One trick for adding toothpaste to the brush is to hold the head of the brush between the thumb and forefinger as a guide to squeeze the paste along in between. Another alternative is to squeeze toothpaste onto a clean fingertip and wipe it onto the brush. In the shower, your loved one can use rubber bands to identify the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Any combination of markings can work; one rubber band for shampoo, two for conditioner and none for body wash or such. Lotion can be spread evenly by feeling the resulting moisture of the skin. If your loved one enjoys wearing makeup, alternative techniques using fingertips and touch can be explored. A magnifying mirror with light may be useful if your loved one has remaining vision. When it comes to shaving, we recommend your loved one use an electric razor until they become more comfortable doing tasks without sight.
Clothing & Laundry
Having the ability to select one’s own daily outfit is important to a person’s sense of self image and self-confidence. Offer to help your loved one organize closets and drawers so they can identify and coordinate clothing items quickly. Part of the organizing is making sure once an item is worn and laundered, it can be reidentified and replaced accurately. Once a system has been established, your loved one will be able to manage this daily task independently again.
Clothing can be identified through many methods. If your loved one’s vision is stable, they may still be able to identify colors, patterns, and graphics. However, items can also be differentiated tactually. Encourage your loved one to explore the feel of the garment’s material to determine if it’s soft, smooth, coarse, silky, stretchy, starched, heavy, fuzzy, waffled, etc.? What are the design features such as sleeve length, neckline type, collar, buttons, zippers, sequins, embroidery, cuffs, pockets, etc.? Sometimes it is necessary to attach a tactile indicator such as a specially placed safety pin or uniquely shaped button when garments are identical except for their color. Talking tag systems are available from WayAround and PenFriend. They allow a person with vision loss to record an item’s description, coordinating options, and laundry instructions. It’s important for your loved one to be able to find identification methods that can withstand going through the laundry cycle.
Once all garments are identifiable, your loved one may want to organize to save time and frustration when locating items. Clothes could be hung in categories like pants, shirts, blouses, sweaters or, organize by color. Each hanger could have a tactile indicator to signal a color. For example, paper clips for white, rubber bands for black, adhesive tape for red, and bag twists for blue. For socks, place each color into a plastic bag with the same tactile indicator inside or attached to the bag. Sock pairs can also be organized with rubber rings known as sock sorters or pinned together. Shoes can be paired in their original box or kept together with an elastic hairband.
Should your loved one wish to simplify their outfits, one top can be paired with one bottom and always worn together. Special safety pins with various shaped dots and buttons can be purchased and used inside each piece to indicate the match even as the garments go through the laundry. Your loved one could also create their own system of labeling with small safety pins that can attach to a label on the piece of clothing. If there is no label, the pins could be attached to the waistband of pants or a skirt, or on the hem of a dress, blouse, or shirt. For example, they could use a single horizontal pin for one color and two horizontal pins for another color. And then one and two vertical pins could be used for two other colors. Shoes can be stored in shoe boxes or plastic zip-top bags, marked with bump dots in horizontal and vertical rows that match the pattern of the pins on the clothing. Your loved one can use these systems or be creative. The important thing is to use a system that is simple enough so that your loved one will remember what the tactile clues mean.
Laundry time can be made easier with divided laundry hampers to keep colors sorted as soon as clothing is removed. Having one hamper for white or light-colored clothes and another for dark clothes will help on laundry day to avoid having colors bleed onto white or light clothing. Washing on the cold cycle can also help when colors may be mixed. Zippered mesh bags help keep track of smaller items such as undergarments, socks, and gloves. After laundering, encourage your loved one to store a sheet set inside one of its pillowcases to keep the set matched. Laundry pods are a great alternative to messy liquid or powder detergent. A CVRT can provide many more suggestions for home and personal care. In addition, there are several color identifier devices on the market for on-demand use. There are a few apps that claim to do the job, but it has been our experience that these apps are not that reliable. Don’t be afraid to let your loved one know that there is a stain on their clothing, the clothing doesn’t match, or the clothing is not appropriate for the occasion. Your loved one might bristle, but, over time, they will thank you for being such an honest resource and enjoy increased confidence in social and professional settings, knowing that their appearance conforms favorably to the expectations of a visual world.
It is essential for your loved one to have a system for differentiating and correctly taking their over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications. Some OTC medications can be differentiated easily by the unique design of the bottle. Other bottles can be labeled with a bump dot, colored piece of tape, or rubber band. A more permanent solution would be for your loved one to use talking tag stickers from WayAround or PenFriend to designate a reusable bottle that would be refilled rather than replaced. Talking medication bottles which allow the recording of the name, dosage, instructions, and more to be played back anytime are available at many pharmacies and through specialty catalogues. Most major pharmacies now offer accessible prescription labeling options including large print, braille, and audio. One audio solution is ScriptTalk, where a QR code is placed on the medication bottle. If your loved one scans the bottle with the ScriptTalk app or stand-alone device, all the information on the prescription label is read aloud. Suggest your loved one make a list of all medications, how to identify them, and what the dosing instructions are in large print, recorded in a file, or on the computer as an extra safety measure. Discuss with your loved one the best place to physically keep their medication such as a specific place on a bathroom or kitchen shelf, in a nightstand drawer, or on a dresser. If there are several bottles or boxes, they should be kept together in a reusable bag or basket. Many people, with and without vision loss use weekly or monthly medication organizers to simplify when and which medication to take so they are not dealing with multiple bottles every day. Many pill organizers have tactile and large print markings. Another option for prescription management is a system from a pharmacy that will package doses of multiple medications in a single pack labeled for the time of day needed in large print or tactile means. One such provider is Accessible Pharmacy which specializes in medication and wellness solutions for people with vision loss. Your loved one can also acquire talking or large-display devices such as glucose meters, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, and pulse-ox readers to help them manage their medical conditions.
Enjoying Leisure Time
There is an ever-growing selection of accessible opportunities for your loved one to enjoy leisure time. Whether your loved one likes being active in community offerings or quietly pursuing a pastime at home, they can learn to have fun through their other senses. Visual entertainment can be made more auditory. Items can be made tactile. Even fragrances and tastes can add another level of enjoyment to leisure time. With the right adaptations, your loved one can be successful at whatever activities they desire.
Audio Described Programming
Many movie and streaming producers have made their content more enjoyable to people with vision loss by adding an audio description (AD) track to their content. In between the natural pauses in a program’s dialogue, a narrator describes key visual elements such as setting, action, and body language. Assist your loved one to turn on the AD setting on all their cable and streaming devices so if AD is available, it will automatically play. Large-chain movie theatres will provide a headset with the AD track if requested. Two online resources that provide audio-only MP3 downloads of hundreds of movies with their AD tracks are BlindMiceMegaMall.com and AudioVault.net.
Several performing arts venues also offer at least one show per run with AD. Likewise, many museums and National Parks offer an AD component to their tours. When institutions design tours especially for people with vision loss, they allow visitors to touch and explore artifacts not normally available to the public. Encourage your loved one to inquire about the availability of AD at community venues.
The Audio Description Project (ADP) through the American Council of the Blind provides an ever-growing online directory of AD media and community-based offerings. Visit the site at ACB.org/audio-description-project to inquire further. And if you or your loved one discovers an audio described offering not listed, please share it with the ADP so it can be added for the benefit of others with vision loss.
Crafts and Hobbies
Many people with vision loss, including those who have been totally blind from birth love hand crafts like knitting, crocheting, looming, quilting, and beading. These activities don’t require vision, just counting, following patterns, and organizing supplies. Your loved one can find instructions for many craft projects in large print or audio from Horizons for the Blind, Horizons-Blind.org. Other individuals enjoy even more sensorial hobbies like candle and soap making, pottery, wine tasting, gardening, and cooking. By using talking candy and meat thermometers, talking kitchen scales, tactile rulers and tape measures, and other adaptive techniques discussed earlier in this booklet, your loved one can continue to pursue many rewarding hobbies regardless of vision loss. A great resource for learning new hobbies or how to adapt current ones is Hadley Institute at Hadley.edu.
There are many accessible talking games that can be found on the shelves of department stores and online retailers. Say What, Bop It, and Freeze-Up are three options. In addition, many traditional games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, crossword puzzles, word searches, bingo boards, and playing cards are available in large-print editions from specialty companies. Consider adapting already owned games by outlining the playing squares with tactile lines using puff paint, glue, or pipe cleaners. Differentiate game tokens with bump dots or bright stickers. there are many accessible options for games played on mobile devices including the Blindfold series of more than fifty audio games, and Dice World, an app offering dice games. The home assistants from Google, Apple, and Amazon also offer many interactive games that do not require vision.
Staying or getting active can be a wonderful way for your loved one to overcome the emotional rapids of vision loss. Use labelling techniques described throughout this booklet to tactually mark the control panels of exercise equipment like rowing machines, treadmills, and stationary bikes. Take your loved one for a tandem bike ride, an easy hike, a jog around a track, or a swim at the Y. Throughout the country, people with vision loss enjoy recreational and competitive sports opportunities that have been specially adapted for them. Learn more about Ski for Light, U.S. Association for Blind Athletes, National Beep Baseball Association, American Blind Bowlers Association, and other sponsoring organizations online. Adult and children’s camps such as PA Lions Beacon Lodge Camp in Central Pennsylvania offer sessions your loved one may enjoy.
If your loved one is physically fit, they can participate in countless backyard games and community sports with family and friends. But to enable their success, adaptations may need to be made to the rules, the targets, the playing areas, or all three. Rules are the simplest to adjust to make a game fairer to your loved one. For example, they get to stand closer to the target, get a head start, or are given extra chances. You can make targets more accessible by attaching a music or sound source to it, using a brightly colored target with a sharp contrast outline, playing with a beeping or jingling ball, or allowing a spotter to provide directional assistance. Playing areas can be adapted by shrinking them, tactually marking the playing lines with nylon rope under gym tape or adding a waist-high rope around the area’s perimeter. Talk with your loved one to determine what adaptations would make them feel competitive, and not infantilized.
In this section we offer specific contact information for helpful services, specialty catalogs, and peer support. Since we cannot provide every existing resource, we hope you will use this information as a jumping off point.
As you begin to assist your loved one in acquiring support services, the first step is to attain a letter from your loved one’s eye doctor, attesting to the permanent loss of vision and eligibility for specialty services. This letter is a must-have, so make several copies for future use.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides services for rehabilitation for students, workers, and older adults. This may include orientation and mobility training, vision rehabilitation therapy for home management as well as assistive technology instruction. Visit the PA Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services at tinyurl.com/bbvshome to find the regional office nearest you.
Pennsylvania Association for the Blind is a network of service providers located in many counties across the state. Here, you will find support groups, independent skills training, and many inclusive social opportunities. Visit pablind.org to find the closest site.
TechOWL provides opportunities for people with a disability to learn about assistive technology devices through guided exploration in a demonstration appointment or through borrowing a device for short term use. The service also procures communication devices for individuals with both a hearing and vision loss. Visit techowlpa.org for additional programs available.
The Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians provides reading materials in braille, large print, and audio. Books and popular magazines are narrated by professionals and recorded onto a digital cartridge which can be played on a specially designed playback device provided on loan from LAMP. The digital recordings can also be downloaded onto smartphones for ideal portability. Visit MyLAMP.org or call 800-242-0586 for service information.
Throughout Pennsylvania, public transportation services are available on fixed routes and through door-to-door service. Fully subsidized and discounted fare programs exist for seniors and people with disabilities. Check with the local public transit provider to inquire about its services. For help finding a local provider, visit tinyurl.com/transitpa or call 717-783-8025.
Free 4-1-1 Directory Assistance may be available from your phone provider, call and ask about this service or other discounts for persons with disabilities.
Until your loved one receives rehabilitation training and regains their confidence in the kitchen, consider having them apply for Meals on Wheels, especially if they live alone. Locate the local provider at MealsonWheelsAmerica.org.
Throughout this booklet we refer to specialty catalogs which offer tools that will make your loved one’s daily life easier. We discourage the purchase of expensive magnification devices until your loved one has consulted with a low vision specialist to advise them on the appropriate magnification level and device. Listed below are some of our favorite catalogs for many of the products described in this booklet. Amazon also offers many accessibility solutions.
American Printing House for the Blind
Phone: 800-223-1839 Web: www.aph.org/
Future Aids – a store for the Blind
Phone: 800-987-1231 Web: www.braillebookstore.com/
Independent Living Aids
Phone: 800-537-2118 Web: www.independentliving.com/
Phone: 800-522-6294 Web: www.maxiaids.com/
One of the most helpful resources for your loved one is connecting them to other people who have experienced vision loss first-hand. While professionals and family members can provide support through tools and strategies for regaining independence, they simply cannot offer the depth of understanding and inspiration as someone who has gone through their own vision loss. The best way to find supportive peers is through organizations like the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) which is a state affiliate of an even broader peer network, the American Council of the Blind. These networks offer one-on-one mentoring, local in-person chapters, topical discussion calls, annual conferences, periodicals and radio programs, special chat lists, and many more ways to connect with peers living with vision loss. Call the PCB Office at 877-617-7407 or email PCBoffice@pcb1.org to request the support of a PCB peer. Of course, you should also check out the website at www.pcb1.org for more resources and guidance!
Within this booklet, the peers of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind have shared strategies, tools, and resources that we have found to be most beneficial in regaining independence and carrying out a happy, healthy life despite vision loss. We encourage you and your loved one to research and investigate multiple approaches and applications until you find the ones that serve you best, whether the ideas come from this booklet, online videos, conversations with peers, or the like. Empower your loved one by being as encouraging and respectful as possible. Sadly, one of the most debilitating factors impeding a person’s adjustment to vision loss is the loved one’s family’s low or no expectations. Please have the courage, the fortitude, and the love to expect and insist on only the best for your loved one. You might face opposition and resistance, but, in the end, you and your loved one will enjoy much happier lives if you take on this challenge and work together to make life as pleasant, efficient, and rewarding as possible. Life does not end because of vision loss. It takes a new path through a previously unexplored sensory garden filled with unique opportunities.