National Reading Month: Reading with a Visual Impairment Part I

by Steve Kelley, CVRT, VisionAware Contributor

A neatly-stacked group of books set between a pair of headphones.

The month of March is designated National Reading Month, making it the perfect opportunity to highlight the expanding options for readers with a vision impairment. As a vision rehabilitation therapist, one of the most common complaints clients experiencing a vision loss report to me is that they are no longer able to read the newspaper, books for leisure, or the computer screen.

Several years ago, in a Low Vision Tech audio recording, optometrist Dr. Bill Takeshita described his personal efforts to return to reading after gradually losing his vision. He described some of the many options available for reading as a blind or visually impaired consumer, and discovered, after a period of transition, that he was reading a great deal once again. It was also equally clear, listening to this broadcast with Dr. Bill, that there was a significant adjustment process, both emotionally and educationally, as he learned which adapted methods of reading worked best for him.

With this in mind the VisionAware peer advisors have started a new topic area Reading to Enhance Mental Health and are encouraging readers to suggest or review books that they have found helpful in adjusting to visual impairment. Audrey Demmitt, R.N. introduces the topic stating, “No matter what, our engagement with literature and written word has the potential to change us, calm us, inform us, inspire us and heal us. In its most simplistic form, this is known as bibliotherapy. Exposure to books, poetry, writing, and even film and videos can be therapeutic and beneficial in helping us process our own life experiences. In other words, literature can be used to help us figure life out, heal emotional traumas, and change thoughts and behavior.”

You may say, but how can I access these books and others of interest to me? Stay tuned for my next post on alternatives to reading.

Picture of books.