Text Version of the VisionAware™ “Getting Started” Kit
Don’t Let Vision Loss Stop You!
You Can Get Help at www.VisionAware.org.Are you or a family member having difficulty seeing? Have you been diagnosed with an eye condition? Are you a professional seeking information to help someone with vision loss? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, VisionAware™ was created just for you. VisionAware is a free, easy-to-use website where you can find answers to your questions about eye conditions and about living with vision loss. Follow these steps to find information on VisionAware.org to help deal with the anxiety and frustration that often come with losing vision. Image 1: Photo of a mother with her daughter Image 2: Photo of an eye doctor conducting an eye exam
Steps to Take to Get HelpStep I: If you’re experiencing problems with your vision, seeing an eye care professional is a priority. Learn all you can about your eye condition. Use visionaware.org/GSyoureyecondition to learn more about the following:
- Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma.
- Low vision and legal blindness.
- The different types of eye care professionals.
- Eye examinations and eye health.
- A comprehensive directory of vision rehabilitation services and consumer organizations: visionaware.org/GSdirectory.
- Explanation of vision rehabilitation services that help with living independently and working with vision loss: visionaware.org/GSvisionrehabilitation.
- Articles on coping with vision loss including personal stories: visionaware.org/GSemotionalsupport.
- Information on support groups: visionaware.org/GSsupportgroups.
- Find helpful products and information about technology at visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts.
- Obtain information such as recognizing signs of vision and communication tips at visionaware.org/GSfamilyhelp.
- Check out our blogs, news, and social media.
More Resources from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH):
- Explore the APH ConnectCenter Family of Websites: CareerConnect® aphcareerconnect.org/ FamilyConnect® www.familyconnect.org
- Or call the APH Information & Referral hotline at 1-800-232-5463.
Experiencing Vision Problems?
Questions to Ask Your Eye Care Professional
www.VisionAware.orgImage: Photo of an eye care professional performing an eye exam Types of Eye Care Professionals: Visit an eye care professional to assess your eye condition. An Ophthalmologist is a medical (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) doctor. An Optometrist (O.D.) is a graduate of optometry school. Find out more about these eye care professionals at visionaware.org/GSeyecare. Low Vision Specialist: Some optometrists and ophthalmologists specialize in low vision rehabilitation, which includes evaluating remaining vision, prescribing devices, recommending resources, and referring for specialized rehabilitation training. Find more about low vision at visionaware.org/GSlowvision. Image: Photo of an eye testing chart
Preparing for Your VisitAsk your doctor if you can bring a digital recorder to help you remember information. Bring a friend or family member along to take notes, provide emotional support, and remind you about questions you want to ask.
- What is my diagnosis, and what are the options for treatment?
- What caused my condition, and are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid because of it?
- If I have to take a medication, what should I do if I miss a dose or have a reaction?
- What new symptoms should I watch for, and what should I do if they appear?
- If my vision problem does not fully resolve, can you suggest a low vision specialist, services, devices, or resources to help me maintain my independence?
Additional ResourcesIf you need financial assistance for eye care, consider the following resources: EyeCare America, offered through the American Academy of Ophthalmology: 1-866-324-EYES (3937). VISION USA, coordinated by the American Optometric Association: 1-800-766-4466. Lions Clubs International: Check the Lions Directory at https://directory.lionsclubs.org/ and contact your local club. Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted.
Living with Vision Loss: Kitchen Safety Tips and Products
www.VisionAware.orgGet back in the kitchen! With just a few modifications and products, navigating your kitchen with vision loss can be made safer and easier. Here are a few tips: Image 1: Photo of a color contrast cutting board Image 2: Photo of proper pouring technique on a level surface
- Use cutting boards in colors that contrast with your food. For example, keep a white board for slicing watermelon or carrots, and a dark board for onions or bread.
- Never overflow a glass again. For cold liquids, place the tip of your finger over the edge of the glass and stop pouring when you feel the liquid. For hot or cold liquids, you can use a liquid level indicator. Find more information about pouring at visionaware.org/GSpouring.
- Mark your appliances. Use tactile dots or pens that leave raised marks on dials to mark settings you commonly use on your oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher and more.
For safe cooking, try these ideas:
- Use color and contrast. For example, try using a dark-colored shelf liner for your kitchen cupboards if you have white plates or vice versa.
- Use long oven mitts to protect hands and arms from hot surfaces.
- Use a low-vision timer with large, raised, high-contrast numbers, such as white numbers on a black background.
- Use a boil alert disc to know when water is boiling and to keep liquid from boiling over.
- Place a pot on the burner before turning it on. Be sure to turn it off before removing the pot.
- Use a double spatula to avoid spills when turning foods.
- Use individually sized or stacked measuring cups to scoop desired amounts of flour, sugar or other ingredients.
- Stay organized. After using kitchen utensils and ingredients, return them to where you had them stored.
Try a cooking class or read a new recipeLocal vision rehabilitation agencies and Independent Living Centers offer classes and one-on-one instruction. The Hadley School for the Blind offers correspondence cooking classes. Find providers through the VisionAware™ Directory of Services at visionaware.org/GSdirectory. If you’re having trouble reading your recipes, try using an optical or electronic magnifier. Learn more at visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts. Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted
Living with Vision Loss: Bathroom Safety Tips and Products
www.VisionAware.orgMake getting around your bathroom easier and safer with these simple adaptations.
- Use a bath mat that has a different feel than the floor or tub. A change in color or texture can help people with vision loss navigate their bath safely and effectively.
- Solid colors work much better than patterns. Although people with low vision cannot always distinguish colors, they are often able to detect visual contrast.
Here are some tips to try:
- Use towels, washcloths, and bath mats that contrast sharply in color with the tub, tile, wall, or floor.
- Install a grab bar on the edge of the tub or on the wall of the shower to help maintain balance and reduce risks of slipping and falling. Grab bars now come in colors that can contrast with your tub.
For more bathroom safety:
- Use soaps and shampoos in pump dispensers to prevent spills, and use a shower caddy to keep your soap and shampoo within easy reach and in one place.
- Use a rubber band to distinguish shampoo from conditioner, or transfer shampoo and conditioner to brightly colored plastic bottles so that they can be distinguished easily.
- Take note of how far you have to rotate faucets to get the temperature you want. Turn on the cold water first, then add hot water. Turn off the hot water first.
- Replace your toilet seat with one that contrasts in color with the commode. If necessary, put safety railings around the seat to make sitting down and standing up easier.
Tips for Making Print More Readable
www.VisionAware.orgUse the following guidelines to help make print more legible for those with vision loss.
Print SizeAt a minimum, use 16-point fonts, although 18- or 24-point may be preferred. Changing the font on a computer is easy. Here are some examples of fonts in various sizes:
This is Arial 16-point font.
This is Courier 16-point font.
This is Arial 18-point font.
This is Courier 18-point font.
This is Arial 24-point font.
This is Courier 24-point font.
Font Type and StyleThe goal of font selection is to use easily recognizable characters.
- Use sans serif fonts, such as Arial or APH font (available online through www.aph.org.)
- Avoid decorative fonts, italics, and all-capital-letter text.
- Try monospaced fonts, such as Courier, where each character is the same width.
- Try bold type because the thickness of the letters may make the print more legible.
- Limit the use of graphics with print.
ContrastContrast is critical to reading print. Print text with the best possible contrast. Light lettering, such as white or light yellow, on a dark background may be easier to read than black lettering on a white orlight-yellow background. To enhance print contrast, use a black or yellow acrylic overlay. Image: Photo of a typoscope Also, try using a typoscope, which brackets the material you want to read. Typoscopes can be obtained through the specialty catalogs listed at visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts
Increase Leading (Space Between Lines of Text)The recommended spacing between lines of text is 1.5, rather than single-spaced. This can make it easier to distinguish between lines of text.
Increase Tracking (Space Between Letters)Text with letters very close together can make reading difficult. Use a monospaced font such as Courier, which allocates an equal amount of space for each letter.
Widen MarginsMany low vision devices, such as stand magnifiers and video magnification systems, are easiest to use on a flat surface. An extra-wide binding margin makes it easier to hold the material flat. A minimum of one inch should be used; one and a half inches is preferable.
Improve LightingGood, directed task lighting can greatly enhance the ability to read. To find out more about lighting and products that can make reading easier for people with low vision, visit visionaware.org/GSlighting. For more information on print readability, visit visionaware.org/GSprintreadability. Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted
Living with Vision Loss: Your Home Office
www.VisionAware.orgReading or paying bills with vision loss can be difficult. However, with just a few changes, office tasks can be made easier to do. Here are a few tips: Image 1: Photo of a man opening a hanging file folder that contains a large print check and deposit register Image 2: Photo of a check writing guide envelope guide, and signature guide
- Mark all file folders with bold, large-print labels, with just the essential information on them. For example, rather than “Information for the accountant,” write “Account Info” on the label. Use a 20/20 pen; these can be found through specialty catalogs. Visit visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts and visionaware.org/GSlabeling for more information.
- To write checks, ask your bank about large-print checks or try a check writing guide, a template that will help you write on the correct lines. Other types of writing guides are also available through specialty catalogs. Visit visionaware.org/GSguides for more information.
- Did you know that there are large-numeral and talking clocks, calculators, telephones, rulers, and more available for people with vision loss through specialty catalogs? A checklist of specialized office products is available at visionaware.org/GSofficeproducts.
Helpful Ideas To Use Throughout Your Home:
- Keep reading everything from the morning paper to the latest bestseller by exploring large-print books, magnification tools, braille, audio texts, and more. Information about reading options can be found at visionaware.org/GSessentialskills.
- Use contrasting colors and textures in your office when possible. Paint your walls and trim in contrasting colors and use outlet or switch plates that contrast with your wall color.
- Remove low tables and small rugs, and keep walkways clear of clutter, electrical cords, toys, and other tripping hazards.
- Minimize glare by using window coverings that can be adjusted, such as blinds, and arrange furniture to avoid glare on television and computer monitors.
- Keep remote controls, reading glasses, and medicines in a small tray at your bedside, desk, or couch where you can easily find them. Find a place to store items like keys and always put them there.
- Ask visitors and family members to respect your household arrangements and to alert you if anything is moved.
Living with Vision Loss: Technology Tips and Products
www.VisionAware.orgAssistive technology (AT) refers to devices or equipment designed or adapted to help you with everyday living. AT opens a world of options for people with vision loss. Learn how: visionaware.org/GStechvideo.
- “Talking” products range from watches, clocks and microwaves to prescription bottles. Learn more at visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts.
- Stay connected. Some cell phones and tablets have built-in accessibility. Check visionaware.org/GScellphones.
- Manage your finances with talking ATMs, money identifiers, and large-print checks. Learn more at visionaware.org/GSfinances.
Continue to Read
- Learn about large-print, audio, braille, and electronic books at visionaware.org/GSreading.
- Use video magnifiers to enlarge images on a monitor or TV: visionaware.org/GSlowvision.
- Read about devices that can scan and display documents on a monitor and speak them aloud, as well as screen readers that can read aloud everything on the computer screen: visionaware.org/GStechnology.
- Learn how to use AT: visionaware.org/GStechtraining.
Living with Vision Loss: Meeting a Person with Vision Loss
www.VisionAware.orgFriends, family, and others can be uncomfortable around people with vision loss simply because they are unsure of what to do. Share these tips and find more at visionaware.org/GSfamilyhelp. Image 1: Photo of sighted woman guiding a visually impaired woman indoors Image 2: Photo of a sighted man guiding a visually impaired woman across the street
- What a person with vision loss sees depends on their eye condition, day-to-day changes in vision, and factors such as poor lighting or glare. Learn more: visionaware.org/GSyoureyecondition.
- When meeting a person with vision loss, identify yourself verbally. Lightly touch her arm or hand to let her know that you are talking to her and don’t walk away without telling her.
- When guiding, don’t try to push or pull. Let him take your arm just above the elbow. Get more tips: visionaware.org/GShumanguide.
- Speak directly to the person with vision loss, not through another person.
- Speak at normal volume. Unless she has hearing loss, there’s no need ot raise your voice.
- Give directions with details. Instead of saying “the bench is over there,” say “the bench is to your immediate right, five feet away.”
- When visiting someone with vision loss, don’t move things without asking; always put things back where you found them.
- Remember, the person with vision loss is the best one to tell you how you can help, so ask.
- Above all, treat a person with vision loss with dignity and respect.
Living with Vision Loss: Meeting a Person with Hearing and Vision Loss
www.VisionAware.orgTips for Living with a Combined Hearing and Vision Loss Hearing loss may increase with age, and many people have difficulties coping, especially if experiencing combined hearing and vision loss. Fortunately, you can take steps to remain fully engaged in the world around you. To Better Facilitate One-on-One Communication, Ask Others To:
- Just speak naturally and clearly, enunciating words and don’t shout.
- Speak to me without objects or hands in front of your face.
- Say my name before talking to me. (Ex: Hi, Joe, it’s John. How are you today?)
- Let me know when you are leaving the room.
- Stay close by when talking to me but don’t encroach on my personal space.
- Stand or sit near my better ear.
- Be patient if I ask you to repeat yourself so that I can understand what you are saying.
- Let me know if my voice is too low or too loud. (Draw a line up or down my arm to lower or raise my voice, much like a volume control).
- Call ahead when possible to reserve seating in a quiet, well-lit area (away from the kitchen and front entrance).
- When possible sit with your back against a wall or high-back booth so that the sound will bounce back to you.
- If you have an assistive listening device with a directional microphone, sit with your back toward the crowd noise. Point the microphone toward the wall or back of the booth so the sound will bounce back.
- Sit with your back to windows to avoid glare.
- Ask the wait staff for the help you need, such as
- Reading you the menu
- Assisting you in the buffet line
- Telling you what is on your plate
- Alerting you to a beverage refill
- Cutting your meat into small pieces before bringing it to the table
Technology to Enhance CommunicationHearing Aids There are a variety of sizes and styles of hearing aids. Contact a certified audiologist to see which type aid will best benefit you. For information: 800-638-8255. Assistive Listening Devices These devices can be used with or without a hearing aid to enhance a person’s voice. Image: Photo of visually impaired man using CART transcription services CART: (Communication Access Realtime Translation) This is verbatim text of spoken presentations provided for live events. Only the text is provided on a computer screen or projected for display on a larger screen. CART is helpful in group settings. Low Vision Aids If you have low vision, you may benefit from optical magnification. Visit a low vision specialist for help. visionaware.org/GSlowvision Enjoying TV
- Consider sitting closer to the TV to hear (understand speech) and see it better.
- To reduce glare, position the TV sot that your back is to a window and close blinds or curtains.
- Try a TV headset, one-on-one wireless FM system or assistive listening device to enhance hearing.
Hearing and Vision Loss Resources:Helen Keller National Center Senior Adult Services www.hknc.org Image: Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youths and Adults logo VisionAware Videos explain helpful devices for living with vision and hearing loss: visionaware.org/GShearingandvisionloss iCanConnect, the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, is an FCC program in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It offers free distance communications technology and training for people who qualify: www.icanconnect.org/ Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Programs (TEDPs) provide free or low-cost equipment to qualified individuals to accommodate hearing loss and improve phone access. www.hearingloss.org/content/tedps-state-listing Financial Assistance for Hearing Aid Programs www.hearingloss.org/content/financial-assistance-programs-foundations Image: Man using Captel to converse on phone
Living with Vision Loss: Have Fun!
www.VisionAware.orgWith a few modifications, you can enjoy activities such as reading, playing cards, spectator sports, crafts, or woodworking. Image 1: Photo of talking book machine Image 2: Photo of visually impaired man enjoying woodworking
- Reading: Keep reading with large-print, audio, or braille books and magazines, e-Books, and newspapers. Learn more at visionaware.org/GSreading.
- Woodworking: Learn how to start or continue this hobby at visionaware.org/GSwoodworking.
- Home Repair: Continue to do your own home repair projects. Find out how at visionaware.org/GSGilsguide.
- Arts and Crafts: Enjoy sewing, painting, pottery, beadwork, and other crafts? Then visionaware.org/GScrafts is for you!
- Cards and Board Games: Keep playing cards and bingo, or board games like Scrabble and checkers. Learn how at visionaware.org/GSgames and visionaware.org/GShelpfulproducts.
- Computer Use: Use your computer for fun and work with a screen-enlarging or screen-reading program. Discover how at visionaware.org/GScomputer.
- Gardening: Find tips on organizing plants and container gardening at visionaware.org/GSgardening.
- Social Activities: Go to museums, concerts, sports, and other activities. Discover how at visionaware.org/GSculture.
Living with Vision Loss: Keeping Fit!
www.VisionAware.orgWhether you enjoy golfing, biking, skiing, bowling, or walking, leading an active lifestyle is possible with vision loss. Most sports have been adapted for people with vision loss. Learn more at visionaware.org/GSsports.
Ready, Set, Go!Image: Photo of a visually impaired woman learning to ski with an instructor Talk to your physician and eye doctor to learn the steps you need to take to stay healthy and safe while exercising.
- Visit your local community center for help designing a safe and effective fitness program and visit visionaware.org/GSfitness for more tips.
- Read up on sports that interest you. Check visionaware.org/GSreading.
- Talk to an athlete with vision loss about adaptations that can be used in a particular sport. Get inspired by visiting visionaware.org/GSrecstories.
- Look for national groups, such as the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes, or find a local group. Your rehabilitation agency may also be able to help: visionaware.org/GSdirectory.
- You may need to adapt your fitness equipment. Mark the dials to the specific settings you use with contrasting tape, raised dots, or large print. Learn more at visionaware.org/GSmarking.
- Be patient with yourself. Learning a sport, with or without vision loss, takes time, energy, and PRACTICE!