Learn to Use Your Hearing to Help You Cope with Blindness and Vision Loss

Your Sense of Hearing Can Compensate for Vision Loss

In the past, your vision played a key role in helping you understand your environment; it will take time and practice to trust and rely on your reduced vision and other senses. But as you do, you will find that your hearing provides you with invaluable "clues" that will help you better understand and interpret your environment.

When you had more vision, perhaps you were not aware of these auditory clues, but now they will become more and more useful. In time you will learn to identify and distinguish sounds with confidence. For additional information about hearing, see Hearing and Vision Loss on this website.

Listen for Sound Clues

Begin by sitting quietly in your home and listen for any sound clues that you may not have paid attention to when you had vision. Where are specific sounds coming from? What are those sounds? For example:

  • A chiming or ticking clock in the kitchen
  • A radio in the dining room
  • The furnace motor going on or off near the bathroom
  • The refrigerator motor going on or off in the kitchen
  • A dripping faucet in the bathroom
  • Traffic sounds outside the family room window
  • Birds chirping outside your window
  • Are the sounds different in the morning and in the evening?

Listening Can Improve Orientation and Moving About

  • Move to another room and repeat the exercise. Do different rooms have different sounds?
  • Sit quietly in different rooms. Are there sounds that are unique to each room? What are those sounds?
  • Are there ways these sounds can help you move around each particular room and locate certain items?

Personal Stories

  • Amy Bovaird: Mobility Matters
    As a person with retinitis pigmentosa, "Mobility matters. It allows me to join the rest of society, follow my interests and passion, and reconnect with my love for traveling. I don't have to stay at home fearing the dark anymore. I can live independently."

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