Organizing and Labeling Clothing When You Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Organizing and labeling your clothing, undergarments, and jewelry requires attention to organization as well as several different types of labeling techniques. Here are some organization and labeling tips that can help.
If you need additional information about organizing and labeling a variety of household items, in addition to clothing and personal items, see Labeling and Marking, Household Organization and Organizing and Modifying Your Home.
Check the Lighting
- Is the lighting bright enough for you?
- Is the lighting even, and without deep shadows?
- Does the position of the lighting help or hinder when you try to identify and select your clothing independently?
- Take the clothing you've selected to the nearest window and see if extra light can help you identify or differentiate colors.
- When you want to match colors, hold your clothing items side-by-side under bright or natural light.
- Keep a flashlight in your nightstand drawer or near the closet to help you read labels or distinguish colors.
See Organizing and Modifying Your Home for additional information on lighting, color, contrast, and room-by-room modifications.
Use Organizing and Sorting Systems
Before implementing a labeling system, try using any of the following organizational techniques:
- Use tactile cues such as texture, cut, style, and button design. Using these cues can help you identify many clothing items without having to label them.
- Place a matching outfit together on one hanger (suit, shirt, belt, tie, and slacks).
- Group similar clothing together. Place all slacks in one part of the closet; all shirts in another.
- Use egg cartons or plastic ice cube trays to organize small items, such as jewelry and accessories.
- Use plastic Ziploc bags to separate socks and hosiery.
- Establish a place for each item.
- Always keep items in the same place every time.
- Return all items to their designated place when you've finished using them.
You can also use the following everyday household supplies to help you organize your clothing and smaller personal items, such as earrings, rings, watches, and hosiery:
- Shoe boxes
- Fishing tackle boxes
- Craft boxes
- Multi-drawer hardware storage units
- Baby food jars/glass jars
- Storage boxes/clothing bags
Use Different Shaped/Sized Containers or Drawers
- Consider grouping like items together; for example, place different colored underwear in separate drawers or different shaped/sized containers.
- Place gloves and scarves in another box or drawer and separate informal tops from formal tops.
- Choose identifying and organizational systems that work best for you. If you've been organized in the past, you may need to make only minor changes in your organizational system.
- Use a jewelry box with dividers to hold individual pieces, such as earrings, rings, bracelets/bangles, and necklaces.
- Organize your jewelry by color, style (formal, informal), or material.
- It can also be helpful to explore each piece using your sense of touch and become familiar with its unique characteristics.
- Many companies specialize in custom shelving and closet organizers. They will visit your home, evaluate your storage space, and design shelving, racks, and cabinets for your specific needs and budget.
- Again, it's important to make sure that the end result reflects your unique needs.
Use Everyday Items
If you still want or need to label your clothing after trying these organizational systems, you can use any of the following methods. Please note: If you use a label that is applied directly to the clothing item, make sure that the label is not visible and does not rub on your neck, back, waist, or any other part of your body.
- Make large print labels with a white unruled 3"x5" file card and a rubber band. Mark the label with a black wide-tip marker, laundry marker, or foam alphabet letters. Place it on the hanger with the clothing item.
- Cut a large ring or "donut" from heavy cardboard. Mark it with a large print, braille, or a tactile symbol or letter. Loop the ring over the hanger.
A "sock tucker" or
- Use a safety pin coding system to determine color; for example, blue = one safety pin and red = 2 safety pins. Be sure to use small "no rust" laundry pins for this system. Place the pins in an inconspicuous location, such as inside a pocket or a hem, where they will not be visible or rub on your neck, arm, or leg. Use no pins on whatever color you have the most of, in order to save time and resources.
- You can also use safety pins to label clothes that go together; for example, all clothes with one safety pin are pastels, all with two pins are jewel tones.
- Create a master list of your coding system in large print, braille, or another accessible format of your choice for quick and easy reference. See Reading, Writing, and Vision Loss for more information on the range of accessible formats.
- Use iron-on patches in various sizes and shapes.
- Use buttons or French knots.
- Small plastic "sock tuckers" or "sock locks" (pictured at left) can help you sort your socks and hosiery. You can also use them to keep your socks matched during laundering.
An assortment of clothing organized and labeled with everyday and specialty items.
Source: Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss, Third Edition, by Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT
Use Specialty Labeling Products
There are also many specialty labeling products for people who are blind or have low vision. You can learn more about obtaining the following specialty products at Labeling Products in the American Foundation for the Blind Product Database and Sources of Specialty Products in the VisionAware Directory of Services.
- Braille Clothing Identifiers: Durable and washable white plastic tags with braille and corresponding black print. They can be sewn or pinned on to the garment. Each label contains just 2-3 braille letters that you can learn to recognize by touch without having to learn to read the entire braille system:
- Color Mates Clothing Identifiers: Package of 160 tags, 16 colors in different shapes on safety pins to identify, mix, and match wardrobe items:
- Identi-Buttons Clothing Identifiers: Package of eight buttons, one button per color, all in different shapes:
- Hi-Mark Tactile Pen: A three-dimensional plastic liquid that makes raised lines, dots, and shapes to identify clothing, canned goods, frozen foods, and mark the settings on appliances:
- Spot 'n Line Pen: A three-dimensional plastic liquid that makes raised lines, dots and shapes to identify clothing, canned goods, frozen foods, and mark the settings on appliances:
- Loc-Dots: Clear raised dots to mark index cards, appliances, computers, and keyboards. They cannot be used directly on the clothing item.
- Maxi-Marks: Black plastic dots and slashes with adhesive backing to mark index cards, appliances, computers, and keyboards. They cannot be used directly on the clothing item.
- Touch Dots: Black, white, red, yellow, and orange raised foam dots with adhesive backing to mark index cards, appliances, computers and keyboards. They cannot be used directly on the clothing item:
- Bump Dots: Black, orange, and clear raised plastic dots with adhesive backing to mark index cards, appliances, computers and keyboards. They cannot be used directly on the clothing item:
- Touch-To-See Labels: Braille and tactile adhesive labels to mark index cards, medication, and food. Each reusable label contains a raised letter or number with corresponding braille. They cannot be used directly on the clothing item:
- Pen Friend 2: An electronic color identifier and voice labeling system that allows users to record, and re-record, information on to self-adhesive labels. The device will speak the color aloud when you hold it against the garment:
- Talking Color Identifier with Light Probe: This electronic device detects approximately 100 colors. The device will speak the color aloud when you hold it against the garment:
- VOXCOM III Voice Labeling System: Record audio talk labels and messages by depressing a button and inserting a card into the unit. The card attaches to canned goods, medication, clothing, food, and household items:
- Father James Warnke: Living a Well-Integrated Life
Father Warnke, who was born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and glaucoma, has had a very successful series of careers as mental health counselor and Episcopal priest, to name just a few of his accomplishments.