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 Help

Step 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:

Step II: Find services for help with adjusting to vision loss including:

Step III: Explore tools for living with vision loss.

Step IV: Help your family and friends with understanding vision loss.

Step V: Join our community at visionaware.org/GSgetinvolved.

  • Check out our message boards, blogs, news, and social media.

More Resources from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB):

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted.



Experiencing Vision Problems?

Questions to Ask Your Eye Care Professional

www.VisionAware.org


Image: 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 Visit

Ask 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.

  1. What is my diagnosis, and what are the options for treatment?

  2. What caused my condition, and are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid because of it?

  3. If I have to take a medication, what should I do if I miss a dose or have a reaction?

  4. What new symptoms should I watch for, and what should I do if they appear?

  5. 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?

If you don't understand the answers to any of your questions, ask your doctor to explain what he or she said in a different way. Find more information about making the most of your visit with your doctor at visionaware.org/GSquestions.

Additional Resources

If 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.org


Get 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.

Image 1: Photo of a high contrast cupboard
Image 2: Photo of a large print timer
Image 3: Photo of a double spatula

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.

For more kitchen tips, visit visionaware.org/GSkitchen. For more cooking tips, visit visionaware.org/GScooking.

Image: Photo of a highly contrasting kitchen

Try a cooking class or read a new recipe

Local 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.org


Make 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.

Image: Photo of a shower with a grab bar and contrasting bath mat

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.

Image 1: Photo of a high contrast bathroom
Image 2: Photo of soaps and shampoos in pump dispensers

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.

Image: Photo of contrasting toilet seat

By making your bathroom safer and more conveniently organized, you can minimize the risk of falling and take care of personal hygiene more efficiently. Find more safety tips for your bathroom at visionaware.org/GSbathroom.

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted



Tips for Making Print More Readable

www.VisionAware.org


Use the following guidelines to help make print more legible for those with vision loss.

Print Size

At 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 Style

The 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.

Contrast

Contrast 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 Margins

Many 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 Lighting

Good, 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.org


Reading 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.

Image: Photo of a man showing a woman how to use a video magnifier

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.

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted



Living with Vision Loss: Technology Tips and Products

www.VisionAware.org


Assistive 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.

Image 1: Photo of digital tablet displaying apps
Image 2: Photo of talking microwave
Image 3: Photo of talking blood glucose meter

Continue to Read

Image 1: Photo of a desktop video magnifier
Image 2: Photo of a portable magnification device
Image 3: Photo of a talking scanner

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted



Living with Vision Loss: Meeting a Person with Vision Loss

www.VisionAware.org


Friends, 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.

Image 1: Photo of a sighted woman and visually impaired woman talking
Image 2: Photo of a sighted woman guiding a visually impaired man outdoors while golfing

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted



Living with Vision Loss: Meeting a Person with Hearing and Vision Loss

www.VisionAware.org


Tips 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).

Image: Photo of man using an assisted listening device

Eating in a Restaurant:

  • 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

Image: Photo of a picket talker assistive listening device

Technology to Enhance Communication

Hearing 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.org


With 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

Image 1: Photo of large print playing cards
Image 2: Photo of computer screen magnification displaying the text, "Large Print"
Image 3: Photo of container gardening on an easy to reach table

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted



Living with Vision Loss: Keeping Fit!

www.VisionAware.org


Whether 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!

Image 1: Photo of visually impaired golfer choosing a golf club
Image 2: Photo of visually impaired man bowling using a guide rail
Image 3: Photo of a stationary bike with marked settings

Find more tips at visionaware.org/gettingstarted

services icon Looking for Help?

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.