Searching for Dropped Objects When You Are Visually Impaired

man reaching for fallen wallet on the sidewalk

From the AFB Press book, Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss, Third Edition, by Maureen A. Duffy.

Whoops! Now Where Did That Go?

It can be frustrating when you can't locate something you've dropped. Some useful rules can help you locate dropped objects more easily. As you search, remember to protect your upper body, particularly your face and head. Also be sure to check with your doctor if you have a medical or eye condition that prevents you from bending over, squatting, or kneeling. These search techniques can be used whether you've dropped something on the floor or a work surface such as a desk, table, or counter.

1. Listen for the sounds the object makes when it falls to help you determine its general location. If the object falls on a soft surface, such as carpeting, it may not make a loud noise, but it is likely to remain close to the point where it fell. Objects that fall on harder surfaces, such as tile or wood, will make a louder sound but are also more likely to bounce or roll away from the point of impact.

2. If you can determine the general location of the object, plant your foot with the toe pointing in that direction.

3. When searching for a dropped object, follow a system. Begin searching close to your body and then move outward. Search with your hands (not only with your fingertips) in overlapping semicircles, for example, or overlapping rows from side to side. Don't forget to check between and around your feet.

4. Try to search with one hand at a time, using the other to protect and stabilize your body.

5. Instead of using your hands, stand in one place and search with your feet, or use a yardstick, broom handle, closed umbrella, or cane to search the area systematically.

6. Use a broom to sweep the area and check the pile that you have collected. You can also use a broom if you have balance problems, have difficulty bending over, or are afraid of falling.

7. You can also sit in a chair and use your hands or feet to search.

8. Always remember to protect your head and face as you search.

9. Use your visual memory in combination with these search techniques to receive maximum feedback from your surroundings.

For more tips on living at home after vision loss, read Making Life More Livable, Third Edition, available in the AFB Press store at www.afb.org/store.

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