Browse By Topic: Helpful Products

Learn about the wide range of helpful products and vision rehabilitation services that can help you live independently with vision loss, including low vision devices, computer adaptations, apps, and devices for identifying your medications. You can also register with VisionAware to receive email alerts about new blog posts in this – and other – topic areas.

Braille Gift Items

Continuing in our series in celebration of Louis Braille's birthday and the use of braille in everyday life, please enjoy this post with recommendations for braille gifts. Remember Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away! Braille Related Gifts Although the holiday season has passed, a new year has arrived with twelve months of reasons to purchase gifts for blind friends and family members. VisionAware Peer Advisors Elizabeth Sammons of Ohio and Audrey Demmitt of Georgia suggest giving braille jewelry at any time! Without any monetary compensation, Elizabeth makes this pitch for Jewelry in Braille by Kelly Fehr. "The grace and style of her designs are produced in high-quality braille and ways visually pleasing to others

Part 3 in Our Holiday Gift Series: Special Gift Ideas for People with Low Vision

Cooking with Low Vision Gift Ideas by Audrey Demmitt Do you have someone on your gift list who loves to cook but is finding it difficult with low vision? I was having a lot of mishaps in the kitchen as my vision got worse. Here is a list of my favorite kitchen tools to help make cooking safer and more efficient. One suggestion is to give these items in a gift basket. Caption: Black and White Cutting Board

Part 1 in Our Holiday Gift Series: Finding Gifts for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired

by Paul Ferrara, Communications Accessibility Editor, American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Finding and selecting a gift for someone who is blind or visually impaired can be a challenge because some items made for people with visual impairments are quite expensive and are often only available through specialty providers. To help you with finding just the right gift, here are some selected gift ideas from the American Printing House for the Blind, as well as three online retailers that you might not have run across, at least some of which are run by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. These websites carry a diverse selection of

Part 2 in Our Holiday Gift Series: Gifts for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The VisionAware Peer Advisor's (AKA Santa's elves) have put together a list of suggestions for holidays gifts for people with vision loss. This list is an annual and very popular tradition on VisionAware. In fact, you should check out our lists from yesteryear for other great ideas. This year we have so many suggestions that we have created a series! Be sure to read the first in the series--how to find gifts. A Personal Digital Assistant for the Holidays by

Calendars for People with Vision Loss

by Neva Fairchild and Empish Thomas It’s that time of year when we need a new calendar, resolve to get organized, and commit to keeping track of appointments independently. If you have a visual impairment, this can be easier said than done. None of the calendars at the store have large enough numbers or letters, and there’s not enough room to write even if you buy a desk-size calendar, which of course you cannot take with you. If you use a black permanent marker so that you can read what you write, it bleeds through to the next page. The letters and numbers are gray instead of black, and the spaces are too small to write what you need to know. Eventually, you leave the stationary aisle frustrated with nothing that meets your needs. Now what? Print

Reflections on Colored Canes

I had the pleasure of interviewing James Boehm, a young entrepreneur who has his own custom cane business entitled Kustom Cane. This personal story is the third in a series of articles on colored canes. Part 1, The Impact of New Colors on the Long Mobility Cane gave a brief historical evolution of the white cane in the U.S. and Europe and explored the perspectives of users of the long white cane, professionals in the field of orientation and mobility, and product manufacturers.

Thumbs Up on the ADA and Audio-Described Movies & TV

I am not a film critic like Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert, but I want to give a thumbs up to the increased availability of audio-described movies and television. If you are not familiar, an audio-described movie provides extra verbal narration of visual elements happening in the film. It could be hand gestures, facial expressions, physical movements, a description of clothing, or action happening in the movie. It describes things that a person with vision loss might not notice or realize. There have been several recent developments that have

Five Reasons Why I Still Use a Landline Phone

Today, with the ever-increasing advancements in technology, many people are cutting the cord and getting rid of their landline phone. They are using their cell or smartphone to make those necessary phone calls. Their smartphone can accomplish that and so much more, so some might think, why continue to have a landline? Well, I can give you at least five reasons why I still continue to use mine. Even though I am in my mid-40s, I am a bit old fashioned and thoroughly enjoy my landline phone, and here are the reasons why. Five Reasons Why I Use a Landline Phone I can get to my landline quickly and

Making Square Foot Gardening More Accessible with the Seeding Square

In a recent VisionAware article, I described how transitioning my vegetable garden from flat row to raised beds has made me a more productive "Out of Sight Gardener." To summarize, a raised bed garden is a plot framed with wood or blocks or some other material formed into raised growing spaces no wider than four feet and as long and as high as you have the desire, space, and garden soil to accommodate. There are

The KNFB Reader App Is a Print Reader I Can Easily Carry on the Go

Empish's Take on Using the KNFB Reader App Although the KNFB Reader App for the iPhone has been on the market since 2014, I just recently started using it. As I have been slowly migrating my life onto my iPhone, this app was one I had yet to try. I typically scan all printed materials, especially my mail, using my desktop computer with a flatbed scanner and software called Open Book. But I had been hearing such great things about the KNFB Reader app, launched by the National Federation of the Blind, that I had to try it out. Because the app is on my phone, I can easily carry it around in my

Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be, Part 2

Editor's note: VisionAware's Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald dives into the world of 3D ultrasounds for expecting parents who are blind or visually impaired in this two-part blog post. In today's post, Francesca interviews In Utero 3D founder, Aleksandra Witkowska-Masojc, about the process of creating a bas-relief model of your child. Read "Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents, Part 1" for more information on this new company and the inspiration behind this new initiative for blind or visually impaired parents-to-be. Breaking Down Barriers for Blind Parents-To-Be A family-run company in Poland has created a new project giving blind

My Experience Using the LinkedIn Website and App

I have had a profile on LinkedIn for a couple of years now, and I am fairly familiar with the website. I will post news I want to share or will say congrats on a connection's work anniversary from time to time. Sometimes I will even post a comment on one of my groups when an interesting link to an article is posted. But admittedly, I have not been using LinkedIn to its fullest capacity. The reason is that there have been some updates to the website that are making it more challenging to use with my screen reader. This has discouraged me from using it as much as I should. Like most social media platforms, LinkedIn has frequent updates so by the time I learn a workaround for something new, my strategy or technique no longer works. Because LinkedIn

Television on the Internet

Editor's note: The information in this post has been updated in this article, Television on the Internet. For additional information on watching TV, check out Enjoying Television with Vision Loss. TV on the Net by Steve Kelley, CVRT Cut the cord! Television viewing has

Feel the Power of the Disability Vote By Using the Accessible Voting Machine

As an African-American who grew up with parents who lived under segregation, I have known and understood the importance and power of the right to vote. My dad, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, would constantly tell me that when I grew up to always have handy a copy of my government ID, library card, and voter’s registration card. He always stressed the importance of having those three things in my purse. Today, I am a 45-year-old living in Atlanta with vision loss, and guess what I have in my purse? You got it; my government ID, my library card, and my voter’s registration card. All with

Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool Part 3

In Part 1 of this series I talked about the National Library Service (NLS) player and its many uses. In Part 2, I covered how to download an application for NLS and the books they offer as well as other sources of downloadable books. In the this third part of the series I discuss using a computer. Read on! <img src="" alt="Image of man diving off board into pool by David Shankbone [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL

My Father's Day Gift List for Your Dad Who Is Visually Impaired

Dear Son, I recognize this is a bit selfish, but I am not above offering a few suggestions for Father’s Day, on June 19, 2016 (no doubt this is already on your calendar). You are probably already fretting about what to get me anyway, and searching the internet for appropriate items. So I thought I could make it easier for you and the rest of the family, by highlighting a few things I’ve had my eyes on…besides, of course that stunning Ducati motorcycle! Amazon Echo The whole family will fall in love with Alexa, the text-to-speech voice within the Amazon Echo. Check out my article,

Are You Afraid to Take Up New Smart Phone and Other iDevice?

Like many of you who still use those good old flip phones for your communication needs, I also resisted giving up my flip phone until one day when I accidentally took it swimming with me. It fell into salt water and had a massive seizure. My little flip phone was dead. So my daughter insisted that I get my first smart phone. Learning About My First Smart Phone When I got it, it did take me some time to get used to swiping tapping, flicking, and touching a smooth screen but I finally got the hang of it. I use the Siri feature all of the time now. She can do almost everything except drive me around and cook a meal. (smile) <img src="" alt="Maribel holding 'old faithful' to her ear and

Say “Hello!” to Alexa the Digital Assistant Within the Amazon Echo

Editor's note: For you last minute shoppers, here is a gift you might want to check out. But be sure to read our other gift ideas. A Multi-Purpose Assistant Imagine having a digital assistant in the house that doesn't require using a keyboard or learning to use a tablet, computer, or smartphonean attentive digital assistant within earshot that could open and read a book, provide a

Part 2 of the White Cane Safety Day Debate: The Impact of New Colors on the Long Mobility Cane

Happy White Cane Safety Day!! Author's note: In Part 1, we reviewed the history of the white cane. In Part 2, we will explore the perspectives of users of the long white cane, professionals in the field of orientation and mobility, and product manufacturers. For newcomers to the field of vision rehabilitation,

Part 1 of the White Cane Safety Day Debate: The Impact of New Colors on the Long Mobility Cane

Author's note: The nation celebrates White Cane Safety Day on October 15. As this celebration occurs, the historic white color of this "visible symbol of a blind person's ability to come and go on his own," as President Johnson stated in the original proclamation, is competing with a growing interest in choice of colors by users for their canes. This post is part one of a two-part series that will (1) give a brief historical evolution of the white cane in the U.S. and Europe; (2) explore the perspectives of users of the long white cane, professionals in the field of orientation and mobility, and product manufacturers;

Five Great Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: This blog post has been updated to include additional information about reading apps. Check out "Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" for more information. Electronic Access to Books Has Changed Tablet computers, like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy, have dramatically changed how we read. For individuals

Just in Time for School: Shopping Online Made Easier for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Back to School Shopping Online Fleets of bright yellow school buses, children toting backpacks and lunch boxes are all signs of one thing-school time. And yes, if you are a visually impaired parent or a visually impaired adult student the months of August and September is the time of year that you are preparing for a return to that old school house. Now, you don’t’ have to take that long list of school supplies and rush off to the local office supply or big box store; you can shop easily and hassle-free from the comfort of your home. How is this possible? Through accessible online shopping. Next to the Christmas holiday season, back-to-school shopping is the largest shopping time

I Finally Got an iPhone!

I Got an iPhone About two years ago I wrote a post for VisionAware on why I don't use an iPhone. In the post, I vividly described how I was totally unconcerned about the fancy bells and whistles of this growing technology. I shared how an old fashion flip phone suited me just fine. I explained how I was uninterested in downloading books, reading my stock portfolio, or listening to music on my phone; how I just wanted to make a simple phone call and hang up. Well, this past December I turned over a new leaf and purchased an iPhone.

Reading My Own Phone Bills Empowers Me as a Person Who Is Blind

Editor's note: This week the 30th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference is underway. We will be hearing much more about it from AFB staff who are attending as they report on the latest and greatest technology coming down the pike. To get us started, Mary Hiland reports on how the invention of a flatbed scanner and optical character recognition in 1975 by Ray Kurzweil has transformed lives and continues to do so, in many different and exciting ways! Being in Control of My Personal Business Who would ever think that being able to read my

My Experience with Using the Be My Eyes App

I am visually impaired and recently tried this app on the recommendation of my optometrist John Henahan, who has written a post about his experience. I recommend that you read what he has written as well as a recent review. History of Be My Eyes The idea behind Be My Eyes originates from the Danish 50 year old furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who started losing his vision

Accessible Kitchen Aids for Successful Holiday Cooking with Vision Loss

Editor's note: This post is the first of our Cooking with Confidence series, associated with the Peer Guide to Cooking Safely with Visual Impairment. It Is That Time of the Year It is that time of year when family and friends gather for warm cups of cider or hot chocolate, friendly conversation, laughter, and of course, lots of delicious things to eat. For those of us who are blind or visually impaired, there is no reason that our vision loss should keep us from

Free Bill Readers Offered to People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

How Do You Identify Your Money? One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a blind person is how do you identify your money? Since US paper currency is printed with the same color ink and each denomination has the same shape and texture it is very difficult to determine differences. This challenge reduces the level of financial independence for those with vision loss. It also creates opportunities to be taken advantage of by dishonest people. Multiple Ways to Identify Money It can be hard for me to answer that question about identifying my money because there are multiple ways to do it. As a result, I have strayed away

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