Browse By Topic: Low Vision

Having low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, you may it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as reading your mail, shopping, and preparing meals. Learn more about the eye conditions that can cause low vision, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa. You can also find helpful tips and techniques for everyday living skills, along with helpful products and low vision devices. Register to receive alerts and news relating to vision loss, including the latest updates in medical research.

ADA for All, Including Disabled Parents of Non-Disabled Children

Unless one studies and interprets the legalese of our laws, it can be quite overwhelming when trying to understand our rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as individuals with disabilities. While I had been capitalizing on services for students with disabilities during my college years, I recently came across a confusing scenario that snowballed into several departments, agencies, and advocacy groups coming together to ensure my rights be respected and, most importantly, enforced. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=7701" width="250px" alt="Steven sitting at a desk with a


Five Reasons Why I Still Use a Landline Phone

Today, with the ever-increasing advancements in technology, many people are cutting the cord and getting rid of their landline phone. They are using their cell or smartphone to make those necessary phone calls. Their smartphone can accomplish that and so much more, so some might think, why continue to have a landline? Well, I can give you at least five reasons why I still continue to use mine. Even though I am in my mid-40s, I am a bit old fashioned and thoroughly enjoy my landline phone, and here are the reasons why. Five Reasons Why I Use a Landline Phone I can get to my landline quickly and


Talking About Terrorism As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: On June 3, 2017, several major news stations interrupted their regularly scheduled programming once again to provide up-to-the-minute information relating to a terrorist attack in England. Sadly, these interruptions have become all too common in households across the country with terrorist attacks monopolizing today's headlines. Explaining these acts of terrorism to our children can be complicated. As visually impaired parents, we can't let our inability to "see" what is happening to impede our capacity to explain terrorism to our kids. In today's post, Peer Advisor Dave Steele (who resides in the UK with his wife, Amy and four children) recalls the recent terrorist attacks in his country. Dave shares a new poem and a personal story about his experience during the terror


The Knowledge of Touch: How I Learned Braille

Editor's Note: Today's blog is from Jasmyn Polite, an aspiring teacher who is visually impaired. Born with bilateral cataracts and diagnosed with glaucoma as a child, Jasmyn has worked diligently to learn to read braille in order to pursue her goals. To learn more about Jasmyn, read her story, "Jasmyn Polite: Shining a Light on Living with Glaucoma As an Aspiring Teacher." Empish reading a braille sign for the restroom Imagine you are a person who is completely blind who is in an


Review of "I Am Helen Keller" by Brad Meltzer

We can all be heroes! That’s the inspiring message of the New York Times best-selling picture book biography series, "Ordinary People Change the World" from author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos. In honor of Helen Keller’s birthday on June 27, Peer Advisor, Holly Bonner reviewed one of Meltzer’s books from the series, "I Am Helen Keller." Overview "I Am Helen Keller" "I Am Helen Keller" begins with the book describing how Helen contracted a rare disease causing her to become deaf and blind. Both the narrative and the comic book like illustrations help children to understand the fear and isolation Helen


Shared Vision Quest Coast-to-Coast Ride: Interview with Mike Robertson

"Dream Big or Go Home!" Mike Robertson Mike Robertson has a big dream that nearly got lost. "I always loved the freedom and exhilaration I got from riding my bicycle, and I wanted to go across the country. That all changed 20 years agomy vision got worse, a crash on my bike shook my confidence, and I lost my driver’s license. I climbed into a deep depression." Photo courtesy of Hans Breaux Shared Vision Quest is the resurrection of Robertson’s dream, as a coast-to-coast bicycle ride he started June 25th with his cycling partner and co-visionary,


Reasons Accidents Happen and How to Minimize Them As an Individual with Vision Loss

"Would you believe that I’ve been punched in the nose by a refrigerator, a closet door ajar, and even a wall? It’s all been caused by my hurrying frantically to get just one more task done, just one more e-mail answered, just one more load in the washer before my ride comes." Do these scenarios by a very competent, independent blind woman sound familiar? Whether blind or sighted, no matter how careful, we are to make our home environments safe, accidents are going to happen, but we can minimize them by reminding ourselves to slow down, focus on the current moment, and consistently use the safety techniques we often ignore because of our


Making Square Foot Gardening More Accessible with the Seeding Square

In a recent VisionAware article, I described how transitioning my vegetable garden from flat row to raised beds has made me a more productive "Out of Sight Gardener." To summarize, a raised bed garden is a plot framed with wood or blocks or some other material formed into raised growing spaces no wider than four feet and as long and as high as you have the desire, space, and garden soil to accommodate. There are


Being Invisible

Editor's Note: Today's post by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is from the new series on disability. This personal story highlights the stigmas, stereotypes, marginalization, and lowered expectations people with disabilities are exposed to everyday. Read DeAnna's story and poem about how the attitudes of others have made her feel invisible and how she has chosen to make her life so much more than a stereotype. Being Invisible by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega When you are blind or visually impaired, it is easy to feel invisible. Many things are invisible to you: a stain on your favorite shirt, a dropped object that has skittered across the floor, the expression on a person’s face, or the number of gray hairs among those on your own head. Sometimes, you can begin to feel


Mental Health and Visual Impairment: Peer Perspectives

Mental Health Awareness Month Editor's Note: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five adults in the U.S., 43.8 million or 18.5 percent, experience mental illness every year. Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month, specifically highlighting and educating the public about mental illnesses. The campaign also seeks to diminish negative stereotypes associated with these diseases drawing attention to the realities of living with these conditions and providing effective strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness. Further, June is designated as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) month. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8382" width="450px" alt="logo saying I'm into mental health


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


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


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"


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

Out 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


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.


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


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


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


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


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,


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


A Time of Joy and a Time of Sorrow: Grandmothering Without Sight

Editor's note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents and grandparents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. In today's post, Sheila Rousey shares her experience of becoming a grandmother with vision loss. A Time of Joy and a Time of Sorrow: Grandmothering Without Sight by Sheila Rousey


Travel Around the World this Holiday Season: A Postcard from Melbourne

Editor's note: Are you thinking about traveling this holiday season? Utilize your orientation and mobility skills to experience the holidays around the world. VisionAware peer advisor, Maribel, shares the festivities in her city in this excerpt from The City on Top in the Land Down Under. This blog was originally posted on Maribel's travel blog, Touching Landscapes. A Postcard from Melbourne By Maribel Steel The continent of Australia may be


Listen with the Lights Out: 19 Podcasts About Blindness

Editor's note: This blog post by Susan Kennedy was originally posted on The Bello Collective, a newsletter and publication about audio storytelling and the podcast industry. Listen with the Lights Off: 19 Podcasts About Blindness Ever since I loaded my beloved orange iPod mini with Fresh Air episodes, I’ve enjoyed podcasts. Gaining a disability a few years ago didn’t end my love of the audible word, it enhanced it. Currently,


Senior Center Without Walls: Opportunities for Connection and Community from Your Home

As you go through the holidays and start thinking about the new year, I am sure that, like everyone else, you are considering what's ahead for you. Based on my own experiences this past year, I highly recommend that you consider involvement in the Senior Center Without Walls, as a volunteer and/or participant. Find out why! What is Senior Center Without Walls? Senior Center Without Walls (SCWW) is an innovative outreach program for seniors which offers activities, education, friendly conversation, and an assortment of classes, support groups, and presentations all done over the phone or computer. Each week, seniors can access over 70 groups or classes by phone or


A Grandma's Thoughts

Editor's note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents and grandparents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. In today's post, Mary Hiland shares the importance of teaching children how to interact with individuals who have low vision and how to build positive relationships. A Grandma's Thoughts By Mary Hiland, grandmother


International Day of Disabilities Celebrated December 3

On December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed worldwide. Started in 1992 with support from the United Nations, this day seeks to foster inclusion for all who live with disabilities by promoting dignity, respect, and community inclusion. The theme for 2016 is "Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want." In keeping with the celebration of this day, we will focus on disability etiquette as it applies to people who are blind or visually impaired. Be sure to read, "Speak to Me," Part 2 of this post. A


An Anthology of Holiday Picks for 2016 and from Yesteryears

Over the years, the VisionAware peer advisors and contributors have come up with an awesome list of gift suggestions, and this year is no exception. Enjoy their ideas from yesteryear and peruse their latest gift list before your holiday shopping. So sit back and relax, sip a holiday cocktail (compliments of Maureen Duffy), and review this list before Black Friday. Also check out our gift ideas article. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7947" alt="Happy


Knowing How Doesn't Always Get the Job Done!

Editor's note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an aha moment, or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers. Being Handy Around the House After teaching daily living skills and other courses about blindness for several years at Florida State University, I consider myself quite independent. I'm a pretty good cook and keep


Feel the Power of the Disability Vote By Using the Accessible Voting Machine

As an African-American who grew up with parents who lived under segregation, I have known and understood the importance and power of the right to vote. My dad, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, would constantly tell me that when I grew up to always have handy a copy of my government ID, library card, and voter’s registration card. He always stressed the importance of having those three things in my purse. Today, I am a 45-year-old living in Atlanta with vision loss, and guess what I have in my purse? You got it; my government ID, my library card, and my voter’s registration card. All with


Overcoming Assumptions: A Blind Mobility Specialist's Perspective

Editor's note: Today's post is about overcoming assumptions people with vision loss face. Our new peer advisor, J Steele-Louchart shares his experience as a blind mobility specialist. Overcoming Assumptions: A Blind Mobility Specialist's Perspective Blindness is a quality of our being. It's as integral to our identities as our nationality, language, and personality. In fact, it's often so fundamental to us that we begin to forget that we're blind. Blindness is simply a part of who we are. To the sighted, however, or to those transitioning from sightedness to


A Day at the Races with No Horses

Editor's note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an aha moment, or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers. Enjoying Horse Races Since Childhood Whenever I think of the Kentucky Derby, I am reminded of those wonderful summer afternoons when my mother took me to River Downs near Cincinnati. Certainly, I was too young to bet, but my mother and I would each choose a horse, mostly based on their


How Congenital Vision Loss Affects Motherhood

Editor's Note: Not every woman grows up wanting to be a mother. For those living with a congenital eye disease, learning of a pregnancy can cause mixed emotions. The following story, based on an interview with a blind mother who has chosen to stay anonymous, depicts how genetic vision loss can dim the brightness of that maternity glow. How Congenital Vision Loss Affects Motherhood Our blind mom, who we’ll refer to as M, was born in 1966 with cataracts on both her lenses, rendering them completely opaque. Her parents were told the ocular condition was either genetic or from a flu her mother had contracted quite possibly being passed to the baby in utero. M had a few low vision relatives within her family tree. However, in the late 1960s


The Perfect Guide Dog

Often as I go about my business accompanied by my guide dog, people remark on his beauty, good manners, and say things like, I wish my dog was as well behaved as yours. They don’t seem to understand that a lot of work on the part of a puppy raiser, a guide dog instructor, and yes, me too, goes into creating the picture perfect dog at my side. He has the same instincts and impulses as the pet they have at home, but he understands that when in harness, he must focus on the job for which he was trained. However, he is first and foremost a dog. He has been bred for intelligence and carefully raised


I'm Not Blind

Editor's note: In honor of Worldwide Week of Service in Sight and World Sight Day, Steve Kelley brings you today's post, I'm Not Blind, a story of adjusting to visual impairment. As the world focuses its attention on preventable and unavoidable blindness, we encourage you to reach out to the rehabilitation services and eye care professionals that can help you cope with your vision loss and improve your useful vision. I'm Not Blind By Steve Kelley What comes to mind when you think about blindness? If you feel fearful or anxious about blindness, you are not alone. In a


What Does It Take to Become a Guide Dog?

Guide dog schools everywhere are committed to the mission of producing, training, and matching skilled guide dogs with handlers who are visually impaired, to provide safe and independent mobility. The mission is multi-faceted and requires a huge investment of time, talent, and money. Transforming a little ball of fur into a responsible and disciplined working dog takes patience and commitment from many people along the way. And the people who do this work are driven by a special passion, both for the dogs and the people they will serve. They would say the reward of witnessing a successful guide dog team working together makes it all worth it. Guide


The Reserve Bank of Australia Hits the Jackpot with an Accessible Banknote

Editor's note: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a celebration of a diverse workforce and the contributions of workers with disabilities. This year's theme is Inclusion Works. Maribel Steel describes what Australia is doing with their currency to make inclusion work in this post about the new accessible $5 AUD banknote. The Reserve Bank of Australia recently put a new, accessible banknote into circulation, the first of its kind in Australia. The new banknote has unique security features and allows easy recognition for people who are blind or visually impaired. More Than Meets the


What to Do if Mismatched to a New Guide Dog?

With September being Guide Dog Appreciation Month, here is a post with a difference. What happens if you feel mismatched to your new guide dog? Peer advisor, Mary Hiland, shares her advice from personal experience to trust your feelings and not to feel you are doing anything wrong. It's All About the Match Instructors at the dog guide schools work very hard to make sure they have found exactly the right dog for each student. My first three dogs were proof of their diligence. Mindy, my first, was a very serious worker, but one of the most affectionate and loving dogs I’ve had. She was great for my first dog, because one of us had to know what we were doing, and it certainly wasn’t


Determining the Livability of Communities for People with Vision Loss

Editor's note: Finding a livable community for people who are visually impaired can be very challenging. In 2003, the American Foundation for the Blind did a study to determine the key criteria for livable communities for people who are blind or visually impaired. VisionAware recently followed up on this study to determine if the criteria identified years ago was still viable and if the cities named in the study still made the list. Although not just for seniors, we are bringing you this post just in time for Healthy Aging Month. Developing Criteria on the


8 Things I Wish People Knew About Going Blind From a Degenerative Eye Condition

Today's blog is from Joy Thomas of Double Vision Blog. Joy and Jenelle are identical twin sisters with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) who hope to share their perspectives, experiences, and challenges with vision loss. 8 Things I Wish People Knew About Going Blind From a Degenerative Eye Condition It usually occurs slowly. While there are some people who go blind overnight or in a matter of days, such as with detached retinas, following eye surgeries, or with


Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Sue with guide dog So a song by the American artist, Ella Fitzgerald, begins. I grew up in the American south. As a child the heat never really bothered me. We spent the summers outside, usually at summer camp. When not at camp, we were outside riding our ponies or playing physically demanding games. It’s quite different now! My day job is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I spend my days before a computer. It’s a fun job, and I enjoy my team and the work we do. But it’s a pretty sedentary job. Last February, I trained with my fifth


Physical Fitness: Move More, Sit Less

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” but what does this mean exactly? How does it affect me and what can I do about it? Impact of Increasingly Sedentary Lifestyles Researchers have been studying our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years to determine the impact on our health and mortality. With advancements in technology, people are sitting more and moving less. From sitting during our daily commute, sitting in the office or on our computers, sitting to watch television…you get the picture. It is actually making us sick and killing us. The World Health Organization has determined physical inactivity is the 4th leading


Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part Two

Imagine after years of preparing to enter the workforce and finally landing your dream job, you begin to lose your vision. You feel defeated and everyone around you thinks you won’t be able to find gainful employment or continue to work. Despite the critics and those who doubt your ability, you must always remember that you are capable. Detra Bannister took those words to heart yesterday in her story, “Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part One” on the CareerConnect Blog. Read how Detra overcame her vision loss and championed her skills into a successful career in today’s story. Nurses with Disabilities Have Great


Protect Your Independence: Create a Fall Prevention Plan

Editor's note: September is National Fall Prevention Month. The VisionAware peer advisors felt it important to bring to our readers the risk factors as well as what you can do to prevent falls. VisionAware has many resources to help you and many of these are included in this post. Being Pro-Active My vision loss has caused me to fall many times in the past. As I get older this concerns me because I realize the potential for serious injuries. So I decided to attend a workshop on Fall Prevention. I would like to share the highlights of what I learned since this is National Fall Prevention Month. Falls Are Not a "Normal" Part of the Aging Process Many


Lessons Learned in the School of Life: Going to School with the Dinosaurs as a Visually Impaired Student

Contemplating my twenty-two and a half years of school as a visually impaired student, I can divide the time into three periods: pre-technology, some technology, and the beginning of assistive technology. Kindergarten The half year I alluded to was kindergarten. For me, it was very disappointing. As I told my mother when I came home the first day, “I did not learn to read!” Reading was the bottom line for me. I did learn to climb the monkey bars and could even pass another student as we scooted along on the top. This was a definite achievement for a five-year-old with ten degrees of visual field. So…I dropped out and waited for first


Seeing Colors With My Brain Versus My Eyes

Healthy Vision Month Editor's note: May is Healthy Vision Month. Although Maribel has retinitis pigmentosa, a group of hereditary retinal diseases for which there is presently no definitive treatment, in this post she discusses her appreciation of vision. She encourages you to make your eye health a priority during this month. Take the first step by getting a dilated eye exam. And find out more steps you can take to preserve vision. <img


What Do You See?

A Question That is Difficult to Answer As a person with a visual impairment, I am asked this question many times and it is difficult to answer. Often, I do not know what I see…for what I am looking at does not declare itself readily. The world through my eyes is a shadowy, ill-defined place with uncertain shapes and colors. I am losing the ability to detect light and color in increments as if the world around me is a watercolor scene fading into the canvas. At times, I see nothing, only darkness and danger; other times the world is brilliantly washed in diffuse light and a soft blurriness which is almost beautiful… like a Monet…


Insights about Using an iPhone: Pros and Cons for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Peer Advisors Talk About Their Experiences with iPhones Why I LOVE my iPhone! by Audrey Demmitt I was the last one in my family to have an iPhone. I resisted it for some time, feeling intimidated by the technology. Eventually, I got one for Christmas at my husband’s prodding. My adult kids were all home and spent time teaching me how to use it, setting the accessibility features and downloading helpful apps. They encouraged me to "just start looking around and using it and you will learn what it can do." Every day, I learned new functions


Adjusting My Career to Vision Loss

Editor's note: Welcome Audrey Demmitt, new VisionAware Peer Advisor. A Career I Dreamed Of The day I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1983 with a nursing degree was a personal triumph. I looked forward to a career I dreamed of since childhood. I was certain I had found my life’s passion in nursing. My future was full of promise and excitement. Then at age 25, a vision exam turned everything upside down. The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa and my future became uncertain. Continued to Work After Diagnosis A long journey followed as I struggled to


Living with Diabetes

Facing Diabetes and Its Complications "You can eat all the ice cream you want in heaven." So began the eulogy for my friend Sally who had died of diabetic complications two days before. The minister's talk was aimed particularly to Sally's six year old son on the front row of the chapel. I cringed because I have diabetes too. My feelings were exactly the same when my doctor informed me that I had the scary disease six years ago. I loved sweets, still do, but I thought then that they would be available to me only in the next world. That's what everyone says: "No sweets." I knew that I wanted a different answer. Educational Seminar I attended a day-long diabetes educational


You Don’t Know What You Can’t See When You Can’t See It

There's Nothing More That Can Be Done The news was devastating. "Ms. McCoy," the doctor said, "I'm so sorry to tell you there is nothing more we can do for you." Those simple words confirmed my worst fears. I am now legally blind. I was numb and my heart was beating so violently I had a difficult time focusing on the doctor's next words. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor continued, "Ms. McCoy, you have lived with myopia all your life and you have done everything you should do by regularly visiting the eye doctor but you have reached the point where


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