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Legally blind people learn to deal with low vision challenges

Updated on January 10, 2015

What it is like to be legally blind

I believe you will find it easy to agree with me on this. One of, if not the absolute scariest moments in a person’s life, suddenly realizing the cold hard fact, I am legally blind. I will go so far as to say, for most of us must be close to the top of the list of things we fear most next to death, or refuse to think about all together. That is of course, until we find ourselves dealing with the heartbreak and many life changing challenges blindness presents us. That is ok, legally blind folks learn to cope with challenges every day.

Vision loss impacts everyday life

Independence or more to the point, the perception of having lost our independent lifestyle is a game changer for most of us. Let us face facts; we all are inclined to go through a bit of depression when we lose something we rely on and hold dear. Our quality of life, families, memories and freedoms, I think you will agree, are among the tops of our most cherished

Visual learner adapts

Visual learner, I dare say you are like me when it comes to learning, or remembering something new. Seeing say a new phone number or shopping list in our minds eye. We have a much better chance of remembering what we need to pick up from the market, remembering a new address or phone number, and what the days planned activities are when we are able to visualize it.

Discovering how to rely on all five senses, for many of us, our vision loss is something new. Then there are those that have lived with blindness if not all their lives, most of it. The thing we all have in common, we learn to pay more attention to our other senses.

Hearing things we do not clearly see

We listen a bit more intently to the sounds around us, we may otherwise ignore. Take For instance, the sound of footsteps moving towards us, stopping, or changing direction is subtle clues to others we may otherwise fail to recognize. The tapping of one’s fingers, muttering unintelligently under one’s breath, and rustling of papers or fiddling with some other irritatingly noisy object is pretty much a dead give-a-way as to things going on around us.

Things we smell

We find ourselves paying more attention to both, strong and subtle fragrances. For instance, alarming odors such as smoke, gas, and spoiling foods. Sweet smells, which let us know plants are flowering, or one of our favorite foods are cooking. Our sense of smell helps fill the gaps in our minds eye.

Understanding the power of touch.

We suddenly find ourselves feeling things a bit more emotionally, and most importantly tactilely as well. Many things we did not think to pay attention to, as a sighted person, our decline in visual acuity made tactile clues a critical part of dealing with the challenges of losing our vision.

Learning new ways to communicate

Communication issues, it has long ben said one look says it all, not so much for a visually impaired person. That cute little provocative smile, a wink, frowns or rolling of one’s eyes are much like speaking French in a typical working American’s home. Often taken for granted, the subtle clues sighted folks pick-up from other people’s body language, is for the most part, lost in translation to a legally blind person. Another thing sighted people should consider, all you folks that enjoy and take pride in your cursive writing skills. Here is a little tip for ya. Folks that do not see very well, cannot read your heart-felt words of encouragement written on birthday, anniversary, and get well, or Christmas cards. Using large bold printed text is always the best way to convey your sentiments.

Coping with Challenges Tactilely

There are all sorts of adaptive technologies available today that help folks with vision problems deal with their day-to-day challenges.

Velcro dots add texture to small buttons

Something as simple as a bit of Velcro on the buttons of the phone, or the F & J keys on the home row of your computer keyboard as tactile clues. This simple technique of relying on our tactile abilities, works to orientate our fingers properly on our keypad and serves as a reliable point of reference.

Just because we cannot see the letters, and hunt and peck our way through, does not mean those of us that do not know how to type without looking at the keyboard, cannot learn how to type without looking at the keys, you absolutely can.

Puffy fabric paint adds tactile clues

Puffy fabric paint tactile clue

Puffy fabric paint, is another good thing we can use. Available in several bright colors, pink, yellow, orange and blue, offer not only a high contrast color. Puff paint works well to make little raised dots that serve as a point of reference we can feel with the tips of our fingers.

Buttons on a microwave, number pads on TV remote and other such things are easier to use with these types of tactile clues.

Bits of sandpaper add and make tactile clues easy to adjust

Adhering sandpaper abrasive side up using spray on adhesive works equally well in many applications to define switches and buttons on appliances, tools and other commonly used household items.

Using your creativity and imagination, you can easily use one or a combination of these extremely useful techniques to mark and identify all sorts of things around your home, office, and workshops.

Cutting bits of sandpaper allows a person to select from fine, medium and cores grits. Making it possible to have softer, medium, extremely ruff tactile clues buttons, or control switches that are in close proximity.

Like those found on kitchen appliances, food processor, toaster ovens, or the bottoms of salt and pepper shakers.

Accessing computer technologies

Let us face it, using computers today is simply a skill we must develop. We certainly are not going to let a little thing like some loss in visual acuity keep us from traveling down the information super highway, right?

Ok then, what we need to enable us to take full advantage of all our favorite computer programs, the internet, twitter, Facebook and all the cool World Wide Web goodies. Oh, by the way, while we are talking about tech stuff, AI squared has applications available that make using the Apple iPhone 4 easier for those of us interested in such things.

Beneficial computer programs

One of the biggest obstacles to using a computer is seeing the screen. Let us face it, with all the small hard to read fonts, it is hard for sighted people to figure out the desktop, word docs, or the Bain of man’s existence, those complicatedly laid out webpages, let alone someone with vision problems. We not only need a magnifier, it would be a good thing to change the way images look on our computer monitor.

Computer scree magnifier reader software

Screen reader

Another very helpful bit of adaptive technology that makes a computer easier to use, application readers. This software actually reads what we would otherwise see on the screen. No more pressing our nose against the monitor trying to read an email, eBooks, manage our websites and other internet or business affairs, let us not forget the Facebook thing.

Must have software

AI squared, has for the last 20 plus years, developed software that does exactly that. Folks with low vision problems, use ZoomText to read their emails, post to Facebook, write online as I am doing right now. Yes, I do and have used ZoomText 9.1 magnifier, reader for the last five years with unbelievable success. The software is easy to install and use, AI squared also has a new USB version of the ZoomText software you can use on different computers, no additional license fees to pay.

Personal experience with ZoomText 10

From my personal experience, I promise you one thing. Buy the latest version of ZoomText, install it, and use it to do all the things on your computer your heart desires. Shoot, you can easily magnify photos of your friends and family. You will be amazed as to how well it works for you, I was, and am every day.

I understand all too well, we are all skeptical most if not all the time. You may choose not to believe me, think I am just trying to make a buck. The truth is unless you click on one of the amazon links in this article and buy something. I make nothing, and you are welcome to the information here for free.

It makes no difference to me, I just want to help you, in turn if you help me that would be great, and I thank you.

Now, pleas do not allow low vision problems get you down and keep you down. Make the most of everyday, peace be with you. MT

The author of this publication, Mike Teddleton owns the copyright to Legally Blind Folks Learn to cope with Challenges .The rights to publish this article in print or online can only be granted by contacting me the author in writing. You may use the intro and link back to the article directing the reader back to my post here at HubPages where they may find the story in its entirety

Your Thoughts and Comments are always welcome

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    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 5 years ago from Midwest USA

      @habee, I hate to here of your friend having to deal with all the challenges of being legally blind.

      Losing one’s vision is a game changer to be sure. However, it is not the end of the world. It just feels that way.

      In time and keeping a positive outlook on things, learning to deal with the challenges of vision loss is possible, and I want to assure you, much more rewarding than any of us first believe possible.

      Let me know how I may be of help, Mike

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      My best friend was just declared legally blind. I'm sending her this wonderful hub! Voted up.

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      RTalloni thanks for sharing your insights. Be well and best wishes. Teddletonmr

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      I would think that contacting an already established organization for the blind to get their input and possible help or that contacting an attorney for the disabled to ask them about the possibilities might be good places to start.

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      thisisoli the biggest challenge legally blind people face is believing they can learn and use new things that improve their quality of life.

      RTalloni I agree there should be help for legally blind or low vision folks to discover online opportunities. How would someone go about doing just that?

      Thanks for your insight, best wishes. Mike

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Nice overview on learning to cope with blindness. In looking it over I was thinking that there should be some sort of organization that helps the blind make the most of online opportunities. Obviously, there's no reason for them not to be able to. Good stuff you highlight, voted up.

    • thisisoli profile image

      thisisoli 6 years ago from Austin, Texas (From York, England!)

      I did see a pretty good typing tutor for the blind a while back, it spoke each letter when pressed at beginner level, and slowly removed the voice over to the point where it only told you when you made a mistake.

      Dictation software and braille printing also mean that it is becoming easier for people who have impared sight to do editing on their own work.