Organizing and Labeling Clothing When You Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Organizing and labeling your clothing, undergarments, and jewelry requires patience, attention to organization, and labeling techniques. Here are some organization and labeling tips that can help.
Check the Lighting
If you have low vision, it's helpful to first check the lighting in your closets and dressing areas:
- 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 Home Modifications 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 needing 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
Store Items in 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 tactually explore each piece 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 Labeling Techniques
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 3x5" 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/donut from heavy cardboard. Mark it with a large print, braille, or tactual symbol/letter. Loop the ring over the hanger.
- Use a safety pin coding system to determine color; for example, blue = one safety pin and red = 2 safety pins. 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: all clothes with one safety pin are pastels that go together, all with two pins are jewel tones that go together, for example.
- Create a master list of your coding system in large print, braille, or another accessible format for quick and easy reference. Use small brass "no rust" laundry pins to mark your clothing items.
- Use iron-on patches in various sizes and shapes.
- Use buttons or French knots.
- Use an electronic color identifier that will speak the color aloud when you hold it against the garment.
- Use small metal braille labels. Each label is just one or two letters that you can learn to recognize by touch without having to learn to read the entire braille system.
- The "Sock Tuckers" shown here can help you sort your socks and hosiery. You can also use them to keep your socks matched during laundering. They are available from various specialty catalogs.
Additional Resources for Clothing Labeling and Organization
- Father James Warnke-Living a Well Integrated Life
Father Warnke, who was born with retinitis of prematurity 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.
- Wardrobe Combos: Time-Saving Tips for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision
by Steph McCoy on 1/29/2016