Labeling Appliances with My Preferred Alternative: Crafting Puffy Paint
By Holly Bonner, MPA, MSW, CASAC, VisionAware Peer Advisor
As the mother of two toddlers, home organization, including labeling, has been key to my survival. While bump dots of various shapes and sizes have been helpful in the past; my children are notorious for playfully removing these self-adhesive stickers. Without these labels, finding buttons on appliances is often both time-consuming and frustrating.
Discovering an Alternative Labeling Product
I’ve discovered a more practical, permanent labeling alternative: crafting puffy paint, which is available at craft and big-box stores. Sold in packs of six for under $7, or individually for approximately $1.75, Puffy 3D Paint provides the same tactile benefits of bump dots, without the worry of possible removal. Available in many colors, ranging from standard white to bright neon, the use of this product can also provide good contrast for those living with low vision.
Puffy Paint is available in a wide range of colors
Currently, I have no vision at all in my left eye, not even light perception. In my right eye, I have 20/900 central vision, meaning I have a small pocket of sight directly in the center of that eye. I use a combination of my residual vision, handheld magnifiers, and sometimes ask for help from others to use this labeling method.
Applying Puffy Paint
To apply Puffy Paint, simply cut a small slit across the top of the tube, and either add a single dot, or, if you prefer, outline an entire button. Personally, I prefer using a single dot method. However, on my kitchen stove, I needed arrow markings to help me feel the buttons denoting how to increase and decrease my oven’s temperature. Using a handheld magnifier, I was able to illuminate where I needed to apply the paint, allowing me to outline the arrow buttons, making one pointing upward and the other downward.
I needed to ask my husband to assist me with marking both the “bake” and “stop” buttons on my stove. I am only 5’3″ and was simply not tall enough to reach these buttons comfortably. My husband is fully sighted, and although not crafty by any stretch of the imagination, he easily outlined both a circle and rectangle to help accommodate my cooking needs.
Holly’s stove and oven controls labeled with Puffy Paint
Because paint is a more permanent option, you will need to make sure you are satisfied with your application. After you initially apply the paint, take a good look at your work using a handheld magnifier. A person who is has no vision may want to request the assistance of a friend, family member, or vocational instructor to ensure the markings are correct – as I did with my husband.
If you are unhappy with the paint, don’t worry. Simply rub the area, removing it with a wet cloth. Then clean the surface thoroughly and let it dry before you reapply. Puffy Paint takes several hours to completely harden. I would advise attempting this marking method before bed, allowing it to cure fully overnight. In addition, if you currently rent your home, please consult your landlord before applying puffy paint to any appliance in your rental unit.