Visually Impaired: Now What? 2017 Archive

May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Month: Action Steps

Coordinated by Sandra Burgess, MSW, LCSW Mental Health America and its partner organizations have coordinated the observance of May as Mental Health Month throughout the United States since 1949. During this month, information to promote good mental health and treatment for common mental health issues is disseminated via media outlets, free depression screenings, and other community events. This year, Mental Health America is highlighting a campaign called Risky Business, an effort to educate the public about some habits or behaviors that can lead to mental illness, be warning signs of present mental illness, or


The Bookshelf: Review of "Upwelling" by Ann Chiappetta

A Breath, an Intonation Expresses a Desire to Act This thought, the desire to act, begins a journey we will take as we pick up the first book written by Ann Chiappetta who has been blind since 1993. Upwelling is a short book of poetry; it’s her first book. Because Ann works as a readjustment counseling therapist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, I was curious why she selected this title for her book. She replied, It means the welling up of thoughts, feelings, and emotions which are made into words and shared with the reader. The image begins as a thought, an impulse, which comes to life through her words. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8388" alt="Book cover of Upwelling by Ann Chiappetta


Maintaining Independent Living with a Visual Impairment

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger, Jackie Waters. Jackie is a mother of four boys and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same through her own website. She has recently had an older relative come live with her and, together, they worked on needed changes in the home to make it safe and easy to access. We are sharing this for Older Americans Month to help caregivers and their loved ones who are encountering similar situations. A Stranger in Your Own Home If you’re dealing with some sort of visual impairmentwhether it be from injury,


Understanding Models of Disability

Editor's Note: In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, VisionAware is happy to share the inaugural post of a new series on disability led by Steven Wilson. Steven was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome at the age of 41. (Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition that causes partial or total hearing loss accompanied by gradual vision loss resulting from retinitis pigmentosa.) He is enrolled at the University of Arizona and plans to get his master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7701" alt="Steven sitting at a desk with a laptop using CART"


The KNFB Reader App Is a Print Reader I Can Easily Carry on the Go

Empish's Take on Using the KNFB Reader App Although the KNFB Reader App for the iPhone has been on the market since 2014, I just recently started using it. As I have been slowly migrating my life onto my iPhone, this app was one I had yet to try. I typically scan all printed materials, especially my mail, using my desktop computer with a flatbed scanner and software called Open Book. But I had been hearing such great things about the KNFB Reader app, launched by the National Federation of the Blind, that I had to try it out. Because the app is on my phone, I can easily carry it around in my


Reviewing Books on Blindness: Harnessing Courage and Moving Forward As an Individual with Vision Loss

Editor's note: These book reviews by Peer Advisor, Amy Bovaird are part of the VisionAware Bookshelf Series. Each book shares a message of facing vision loss straight on and finding the courage and will power to move forward with life as someone living with a visual impairment. Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity Through Grit and Gratitude by Laura Bratton By


During Older Americans Month, Meet the Challenges of Aging with Vision Loss

How Can We Add More "Life" to Our Life? Science and medicine have added more years to our life, but how can we add more "life" to our years? Growing older is not just about loss and decline, it can bring new opportunities and adventures. We all want to age gracefully and maintain our independence, but what is the secret to positive aging and satisfaction in this stage of life? A growing number of Americans are aging with disabilities which threaten their independence. According to the 2010 Census, almost 50 percent of respondents over age 64 reported some level of disability. Specifically, the prevalence of vision loss is growing


"Walking by Inner Vision" Book Review

Celebrating our successes as visually impaired people is an essential step on the journey to healing. Peer advisor, Lynda McKinney Lambert knows this firsthand. Celebrating in a Memorable Way After profound vision loss in 2007 due to Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, Lynda did not use a computer for almost two years. When she finally did relearn her way around the computer with the help of adaptive technology, she decided to celebrate in a memorable way. She started a blog. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8333" alt="The cover of Lynda Lambert's book, Walking


April 2017

During National Autism Month, Think About Employment Opportunities for Adults Who Are Blind and Have Autism Spectrum Disorder

April is National Autism Awareness month. The purpose of this post is to increase awareness of autism and to encourage you to think outside of the rehabilitation box! When I was studying for my degree in vision rehabilitation for adults, I learned about self-stimulating behaviors often called "blindisms." Behaviors such as repetitive speech or echolalia, constant rocking whether


Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs

I wrote this poem while walking 16 blocks with my sixth guide dog to a dental appointment. I am sharing it to honor my nine guide dogs on April 26th, International Guide Dog Day! Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs We are cloud dancers, You lead and I follow. Our steps synchronized Our bodies swaying to the same rhythm. Swept along in the current of the jet stream. Floating lightly on the swell of an updraft, Swooping into a glide down the slope of a


Four Things I Learned from the 1Touch Self-Defense Project

In March, I attended the AFB Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. One of the numerous workshop sessions on the agenda that I found interesting was on the 1Touch Self-Defense Project. I had taken a self-defense class for people with visual impairments, but it was many years ago, and I have to admit I was pretty rusty on the topic and even more on the physical techniques. So, I decided to attend the class to get a refresher and update my skills and knowledge. The session was only for about an hour, but I learned a wealth of information that I want to share with you in this post. <img


How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is Blind

Editor's note: April 22 is Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Growing out of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement working with more than 50,000 partners in nearly 195 countries to build environmental democracy; 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching a set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism. "Waste Not, Want Not" From the time I was a little girl, I was aware of the importance of


Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry

Editor's note: In today's post, Maribel interviews Dave Steele, a visually impaired poet and song writer. We first learned of Dave and his inspiring poetry during Valentine's Day when he shared a poem on retinitis pigmentosa. Learn more about Dave by reading his personal story. Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8128" alt="Dave Steele holding his book, Stand with Me RP"


Eyes Wide Open: Isaac Lidsky’s Philosophy and Learning How to "See" More Clearly

Editor's Note: During Vision Rehabilitation Awareness week, we continue to bring you stories about the importance of the array of vision rehabilitation services that are available to help people new to vision loss. Isaac Lidsky's Story Isaac Lidsky left to get an espresso a few blocks away from his house in residential Washington, DC. He wanted to practice his newly established independence as a blind individual, so with his cane and mobility skills, he went alone and made it to the cafe just fine. On his way home, however, he made one wrong turn in a complicated intersection and could immediately sense that he was lost. “I was on a quiet empty street, and I realized I had left my phone at home and in an instant, I was just overwhelmed with all of these


Out of Sight Gardening: Tips on Raised Bed Gardening for Individuals with Vision Loss

gOut of Sight Gardening By Bill Holton, VisionAware Contributor As the snow melts and the days grow longer, it’s only natural for our thoughts to turn to springtime gardening. I do a lot of vegetable gardening, and last spring, I offered several tips for gardening with vision loss. Some of these included using bamboo stakes to mark row ends and kebab skewers to mark where you have planted seeds, so you’ll be able to


March 2017

Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Take the Test!

Editor's note: Audrey Demmitt, VisionAware peer advisor and R.N., reminds everyone of the risk of diabetes and what you should know. Could you be the one in three American adults who is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes? Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness among working age adults, and that’s why VisionAware is participating in American Diabetes Association Alert Day(r). On March 28, we encourage you to take a quick (and anonymous) one-minute Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test to


How to Get the Most from the Bard in Your Book

Being blind or visually impaired doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying a good book. As we celebrate National Reading Month in March, peer advisor and visually impaired freelance writer, Maribel Steel, highlights some of the benefits we can all continue to enjoy either on our own or with our children when we want to get the most from the "bard" in our books. First Impressions The magical world of words that first excites a child’s imagination is often conjured up from fairy tales and fables of childhood. This is a time of wonderment where the bard and the book are one, where nothing can replace the drama of a character as beautifully as in the voice of a loved one. My own experience when I first heard the bard come alive in books were in the voices my


Many Different Hats: An Audio Short Story

Editor's note: In honor of National Reading Month, today's post features an audio recording of Maribel Steel's story, "Many Different Hats." Whether you enjoy reading large print, braille, or following along with audiobooks, the VisionAware peers encourage you to continue to enjoy reading. Click the link below to listen to Maribel's story. Listen to "Many Different Hats" Transcript (Soft music plays then fades out as the narrator begins to speak) Narrator:"Many Different Hats," written by Maribel Steel and read by Carol Middleton. Playing Time: 7:51 minutes.


Taking Hold of Happiness When Challenged by a Visual Disability

By Maribel Steel and Lynda Lambert International Day of Happiness All Year Round People around the world now celebrate International Day of Happiness on March 20th each year. We hope that by taking hold of life’s unexpected challenges in a more positive way, we can appreciate life from a higher vantage point. If we can think of gratitude as a graceful eagle that can launch into flight to soar above the mundane, then an incredible sense of happiness flies into serving our every needall


Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be, Part 2

Editor's note: VisionAware's Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald dives into the world of 3D ultrasounds for expecting parents who are blind or visually impaired in this two-part blog post. In today's post, Francesca interviews In Utero 3D founder, Aleksandra Witkowska-Masojc, about the process of creating a bas-relief model of your child. Read "Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents, Part 1" for more information on this new company and the inspiration behind this new initiative for blind or visually impaired parents-to-be. Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be A family-run company in Poland has created a new project giving blind


Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be, Part 1

Editor's note: VisionAware's Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald dives into the world of 3D ultrasounds for expecting parents who are blind or visually impaired in this two-part blog post. In today's post, Francesca introduces us to a new company that works to remove barriers for blind mothers- and father-to-be. Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be We have made unprecedented strides in technology, improving our experience and interaction with the world around us. For individuals who are blind or visually impaired, we are finding ways to adapt iPads, improve refreshable braille mechanics, and broaden the option of VoiceOver technology, so we can all experience the visual world as accurately and interactively as possible. And yet, we have not yet discovered a


Friendship on International Women's Day

As women from every corner of the globe come together to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, VisionAware peer advisor, Maribel Steel, acknowledges the feminine spirit that nurtures, supports, and uplifts through the sisterhood of friendship. Women in Collaboration A few years ago, I was the project coordinator for a World Premiere music event in Melbourne, Australia called, "Precious Music, Precious Water." I mention it here because it was a project commissioned by The Victorian Womens’ Trustit was an insightful experience to be at the


Blind Dating: Looking for Love in the Digital Age

“Yes, blind people do care about physical things, and yes, we are sexual beings. Very much so,” Nefertiti Matos says through a laugh in the opening scene of the documentary, Blind Date. She is one of three main characters in the film who shares her experience of dating in our digital age as someone who is visually impaired. The film, which was first released in 2015, follows Nefertiti and two men, Anthony Butler and Gus Chalkias. All three are living in New York and actively participating in the dating scene without their sense of sight. Navigating Online Dating There are over seven


Driving on the Horizon: One Story of Parenting a Teen As a Visually Impaired Mother

The reality any parent will tell you is this: as children become teens, their abilities grow along with their independence. We must be there to guide but also to accept and take pride in their accomplishments. I did not expect the bittersweet reality of my daughter’s driving to overwhelm me as it did, but perhaps this story will reassure others that what you are feeling is normal. Driving on the Horizon: One Story of Parenting a Teen “You can come with us, Mom, but don’t freak out, because if you do, so will I.” These grudging words pave our way to my daughter Sophia’s third driving experience. The sapphire dusk is


February 2017

My Guide Dog, Grant: A Reason, a Season, and for a Lifetime

It was once said, and now often repeated, that “people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Although the author of this quote is unknown, I believe that he would extend the meaning of this quote to service animals that come into our lives for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. For those of us who have gained the experience of working with a guide dog, there is certainly a special place in our hearts for their dedication and affection. The Reason My personal experience with using a guide dog came in my early 50s. Although I had been visually impaired all of my life, I


Guide Dog or White Cane? Mobility Tools for Individuals with Vision Loss

Editor's note: February is low vision awareness month, and we are highlighting the importance of being safe when walking around, even in a known area. VisionAware peer advisor, DeAnna Noriega, gives sound advice about what you should think about when making a decision about a dog or cane. Questions to Consider If you have low vision, your lack of depth perception may make it hard to judge changes in the elevation of the ground where you are walking. Other questions to consider: Do you have trouble adjusting to differences in lighting when you go outside or come into a building? Are blind spots in


Amy Bovaird Interviewed About Her Book, "Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility"

Amy Authors Second Book on Mobility Editor's note: Beckie Horter, peer advisor, conducts this interview of Amy Bovaird about her second book. Cane Confessions is the second book in peer advisor, Amy Bovaird's, mobility series. The first is Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. It follows the journey of her orientation and mobility training. In this latest book, Cane


Creating a Poetic Outlook from Your Inner Viewpoint

Edited by Maribel Steel When we need an outlet to express our inner thoughts, especially when facing a life challenge like living with low vision, why not let your thoughts flow onto a page in the form of poetry? “It isn’t about rhyming, meter, or number of syllables,” says DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, “Really, anyone can write poetry.” Usually, when poets create poetry, there is a two-fold passion at play; they want to capture their feelings by observing their rich inner thoughts and hope their reflections truly touch the hearts and minds of a reader. Writing poetry, however, is completely up to


A Poem on Retinitis Pigmentosa to Shine On Valentine's Day

When Dave Steele learned that he was losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), he took to expressing his fears, thoughts, and experiences through writing poems, songs, and verses. Only two years on, Dave has produced many creative works in raising awareness of the challenges people face in a similar situation. His book, Stand by Me RP is a touching collection of poems reflecting on his journey. We couldn’t think of anything finer for Valentine’s Day than to highlight one of his love poems to his wife and thank Dave for giving VisionAware permission to feature a poem so close to his heart. "I have always believed that music and poetry can make an impact, touch the heart, and


Six Tips for Your Out-of-the-Box Museum Visit

Editor's note: Just in time for planning for Valentine's Day, we bring you this post by Lynda Lambert. Lynda suggests that you might consider a similar trip to a museum or art gallery as a fun Valentine's outing. Read and enjoy! Visiting the Andy Warhol Museum Recently, I invited my daughter and great-granddaughter to help me celebrate my birthday with a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum which is located about 40 miles from our home. Since my great-granddaughter was celebrating her birthday that month, it was perfect timing for us. This could be a great idea for a Valentine’s Day excursion with a friend or family member too. I wanted to take photographs in the museum, so I asked at the entrance desk for permission. My only restriction was to not use a flash


The 1Touch Project™: Personal Safety for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's note: With this post, VisionAware is rolling out a new series on "Dealing with Crime or Domestic Violence As a Person with a Disability." In this series, you will find articles on the disturbing statistics on crimes against people with disabilities, information and resources on domestic abuse, and personal stories that two peer advisors have written about their own experiences. We are also offering information on self-defense techniques that have been adapted or developed for people with vision loss, including the 1Touch


Chaperoning a Field Trip with My Sighted Child

Editor's Note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. Today's post from Beckie Horter relates her experiences in taking her child on a field trip. Being a Normal Mom I wanted to be a normal mom, and of course, that proved to be a problem. If, by "normal," I thought seeing 20/20 was the measure. Because I didn't see 20/20, that is. I was


January 2017

Tips for Toddler Potty Training for Parents Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. Today's post from Holly Bonner shares nine tips for easy potty training. Potty Training Your Toddler As a Parent with Low Vision Potty training your toddler is an exciting time! On one hand, you’ve reached the point in parenthood when you’re ready to bid farewell to diaper duty. On the other hand, the realization that your baby isn’t really a “baby” anymore is enough to break any parent’s heart. <img


Reading Bookshare Books Is Enjoyable but Maybe Not on iBooks

Reading Bookshare Books on iBooks Announced January 23rd is National Reading Day, which is observed as a time to encourage and celebrate the love of literacy among children. Although it has been years since I was a child, the love of reading has never left me. The ability to peruse a book, newspaper, or magazine has always been a delight. When I lost my vision 20 years ago, instead of reading printed books, I started reading audiobooks. One program I like to use is Bookshare, an online service that provides accessible books for people who are blind or


My Experience Using the LinkedIn Website and App

I have had a profile on LinkedIn for a couple of years now, and I am fairly familiar with the website. I will post news I want to share or will say congrats on a connection's work anniversary from time to time. Sometimes I will even post a comment on one of my groups when an interesting link to an article is posted. But admittedly, I have not been using LinkedIn to its fullest capacity. The reason is that there have been some updates to the website that are making it more challenging to use with my screen reader. This has discouraged me from using it as much as I should. Like most social media platforms, LinkedIn has frequent updates so by the time I learn a workaround for something new, my strategy or technique no longer works. Because LinkedIn


Review of "How Do You Do It Blind: Answers from People with Blindness and Visual Impairment"

This review is part of our bookshelf series Author Shares His Story of Blindness In 109 pages, Steven Obremski truly accomplishes his goal—to answer the question posed in the book's title “How Do You Do It Blind” for both the general public and people who are newly visually impaired. Answers are provided by hundreds of visually impaired people Steven has worked with in the blindness field, people he interviewed for this book, and his own life experiences. In chapter one,


Keeping Your Balance Through Outdoor Bike Riding

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." Albert Einstein Editor's note: In the New Year we all make promises to ourselves about coming up with a new weight loss plan or exercising more. Beckie Horter, new VisionAware peer advisor, describes her joy in bike riding and how she does it. Feeling Out of Balance To keep moving is not always an easy thing for people with vision loss to do. While we may want to stay active, and may even seek it out, our vision oftentimes interferes and spoils our best-laid plans. I discovered this firsthand after central vision loss left me legally blind in my mid-thirties. Along with


Birth Options for Mothers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Once a woman learns she’s about to have a child, her attention is immediately directed towards prenatal care. At the mid-point of pregnancy, approximately 20 weeks, doctors will begin discussing a birth plan with the expectant parents. A birth plan is a document that lets your medical team know your preferences for your delivery, including things like how to manage your labor pain. Having your wishes recorded in the form of this written document ensures your healthcare provider understands your wishes with regards to the delivery of your child. It is important to note that although preparation for birth is essential, the new mother may not be able to control every aspect of her labor and delivery. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and you must remain flexible in cases where you may be


Beginning on a Positive "Quote"

At this time of year, New Year resolutions abound. As a writer and a person living with a visual impairment, I am always on the look out for uplifting quotations that will help me focus on new ventures and goals. I find encouragement and peace of mind when I stop for a moment to consider the wise words of others and can gain insights for my personal aspirations. Like a beacon radiating with light, quotations have the ability to cast a more positive perspective on our thought process when life can get challenging. Following are 17 quotations especially chosen for their uplifting message under the three themes of acceptance, courage, and


One Dot at a Time: Learning Braille As Someone with Low Vision

I love to learn. I read books frequently. I ask people about how they do things. I visit museums. I watch TV programs and listen to podcasts reporting on news and art and history. Give me the remote, a Netflix documentary, and a bowl of white cheddar popcorn, and I’m set for the night. My curiosity about life compels me to understand. When I gained low vision a few years ago, I decided to learn how to adapt so I could still live a purposeful life. I switched from paperbacks to ebooks and audiobooks. I use audio tour headsets at museums. I


I'm Thinkin' 'Bout Good Intentions

Do you look forward to making positive changes at the beginning of each new year? A couple of years ago, I thought I would make a new start. I wrote down my resolutions and a goal plan. But after a few months, my plans were forgotten for I seemed to be unable to sustain the level of attention required. Of course, I felt like I failed. Does this happen to you? If so, you're not alone. Statistics of New Year's Resolutions Roughly 45 percent of all Americans make New Year's resolutions, but only eight percent of them will achieve success. For Americans in their 20s, only 30 percent will be


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