Browse By Topic: Holidays

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

Renewing My Vision: A New Year's Resolve

The year 2017 was many things for me. I traveled on my own, attended a life-changing writing workshop, met some amazing people, and found somewhat of a groove in freelance writing. I also found a connection that has, and may in the future, contain all these things, helping me to develop the skills I choose to sharpen as a part of my vision for the future and this year to come. Halfway through the year, I found myself involved with a wonderful group of people here at VisionAware, the VisionAware peers. I saw myself having a voice and a say on things that really

The Gift of Reading: A Gift Everyone Can Enjoy

Recently, a friend told me she ordered a variety of books which she is gifting to family and friends this year for Christmas. My friend said she simply visited some bookselling sites, placed her order, and the books arrived at her door just a few days later. What a great idea! The gift of reading doesn’t require anyone to go out shopping in the crowded malls or travel on the busy highways. Books are fun to select throughout the year. I’ve been preparing my annual Christmas letter and putting them inside the envelope with my Christmas cards. I put together some special gift packages to send to people who have been so

Holiday Picks and Black Friday Deals for People with Vision Loss

Looking for holiday gifts for friends or family with vision loss? Here are some great deals and recommendations! VisionAware has a holiday gift guide full of suggestions from peer advisors and contributors. The guide includes ideas for homemade gifts as well. It's not too late to get started! Think about a subscription

Thanksgiving Made Easy for a Single Visually Impaired Hostess

Most Interesting Thanksgiving Memory No smoking and no football. Those were the ground rules I had laid down for my Thanksgiving dinner in 1992. Everybody has a favorite Thanksgiving memory and a worst Thanksgiving memory, but here’s my most interesting one, and well, maybe the most fun. Newly divorced, I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for my single friends who had no other plans for the day. There were 11 of us that first year. No two people knew each other because I invited friends from different parts of my life. One was a coworker. One was a bicycling friend. One was my

Book Review: The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season is Alice Jane-Marie Massa’s first book. It’s a collection of holiday-themed memoirs, fanciful stories, and poems. Readers are immediately drawn into the book for two reasons. First, the book’s cover photo features a picture of a Christmas carriage on a snowy day. This photo by photographer Cindy Kennedy-Lesky reflects a nostalgic illustration of the winter season and holidays. The image holds in it the memories we all have of our own personal recollections of holidays and family gatherings. Second, when I opened the book, I began

Grandma’s Glory: Tips for a Successful Visit from Your Grandchildren

Editor's Note: In honor of Grandparent's Day (Sunday, September 10th), Mary Hiland, a VisionAware peer advisor with retinitis pigmentosa, has written a delightful post about a recent visit from her grandchildren. Read and enjoy! Grandma's Glory By Mary Hiland My daughter Kara and her family, husband and three children, were just here for a few days, and we had a wonderful time together. When they arrived, they had been in the car for many hours, so I was expecting

How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is Blind

Editor's note: April 22 is Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Growing out of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement working with more than 50,000 partners in nearly 195 countries to build environmental democracy; 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching a set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism. "Waste Not, Want Not" From the time I was a little girl, I was aware of the importance of

Travel Around the World this Holiday Season: A Postcard from Melbourne

Editor's note: Are you thinking about traveling this holiday season? Utilize your orientation and mobility skills to experience the holidays around the world. VisionAware peer advisor, Maribel, shares the festivities in her city in this excerpt from The City on Top in the Land Down Under. This blog was originally posted on Maribel's travel blog, Touching Landscapes. A Postcard from Melbourne By Maribel Steel The continent of Australia may be

An Anthology of Holiday Picks for 2016 and from Yesteryears

Over the years, the VisionAware peer advisors and contributors have come up with an awesome list of gift suggestions, and this year is no exception. Enjoy their ideas from yesteryear and peruse their latest gift list before your holiday shopping. So sit back and relax, sip a holiday cocktail (compliments of Maureen Duffy), and review this list before Black Friday. Also check out our gift ideas article. <img src="" alt="Happy

Valentine's Day Is On the Horizon: Make It Sensory

There are many ways to give that involve your senses. Using all of our senses can maximize our experiences. "Chime" in with your ideas! Here are some suggestions from some of the VisionAware peer advisors. "The day itself is a multisensory kind of experience and can be made complete with many textures, fragrances and sounds and tastes," Elizabeth Sammons. Gifts that Involve the Sense of Smell

Finding My Voice: Overcoming My Fears of Singing in a Cantata, as a Blind Person

Editor's note: This past week's posts have covered many aspects of dealing with loneliness and depression during the holidays in a positive way. In this in-between week between Christmas and New Year's, many of us start to think about what "resolutions" we should make. In this post, Mary Hiland discusses what she did to make her holidays brighter and more meaningful to her. But it takes preparation and planning ahead. Find out how she did it and get inspired! And, by the way, next week is Louis Braille's birthday and the start of Braille Literacy Awareness month. (Louis Braille was the creator of the braille code) We will be honoring that event with

Depression During the Holidays and Beyond

The holiday season is tough on those who are struggling with depression, anxiety and stress. Let’s face it--for many of us the family gatherings, endless shopping, and chaotic parties can leave us feeling down and exhausted. It’s a time that may be particularly difficult for someone new to vision loss. Many people who are blind or visually impaired find it stressful to go shopping, attend social functions, navigate crowds and manage family relationships. And that is just what the holidays are all about. Vision loss will certainly change the experience and may even trigger depression. Loneliness and social Isolation Predict Depression Social isolation is one of the biggest

Visit Guggenheim New York Without Having to Get out of Your PJ's

Take a Tour With a Difference For those of you who enjoy wandering through art galleries, going on audio described tours and keeping in touch with the art world, guess what you can do over the holiday season without even having to get out of your comfy warm PJ's? Take an online audio described tour at the Guggenheim in New York! An Experience

What to Do When the Holidays Are Not So Jolly

For children, the holiday season can be magical and full of special delights. But as adults, sometimes they are filled with stress, hassles, loneliness and fatigue. In a season that is supposed to be merry and bright, we may not feel like celebrating. There is so much pressure and expectation to pull off the perfect holiday with perfect gifts, perfect decorations, perfect meals…and all with a perfect smile on our face! The reality is that life marches on and sometimes the holidays arrive at difficult times in our lives. We all can relate to this, I am certain. We have all experienced a holiday season which was less than perfect. Perhaps you are alone or sick this holiday. Maybe

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

Surviving the Holidays and Vision Loss

What’s a picture of two people in love hugging on skis got to do with a piece about suicide? A suicide attempt is the cause of my blindness. Creating a life worth living from the apparent ashes of my life thirty something years ago took a lot of work. And I needed a lot of help. I had great teachers. I worked hard. And I had support. This piece is dedicated to the person who has supported me over a thirty year marriage, my husband, Jim. Thanks sweetie. I couldn’t have done it without you. Warning: This piece of writing takes an honest look at a difficult topic, suicide. Further warning: I’m not going to sugar-coat my story. If you’re depressed,

Food Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays - Part 3

Editor's Note: Many of these gifts require measuring. Before attempting them, you may want to learn more about measuring and safe cooking techniques. You may also find useful tools for cooking and other household tasks through AFB's product data base or through specialty catalog sources. Apple and Rhubarb Jam

Crafts and Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays - Part 2

Editor's note: We continue with crafty ideas that people who are visually impaired can make as the holiday season approaches. One of the nicest things to receive from a friend is a hand-made craft or gift. Check out Part 1. Part 3 covers food items you can make as gifts. Read Tips for Setting Up a Craft Area to get you started. Festive Gifts in a Jar by

Practice Good Eye Safety Around Fireworks This Fourth of July

Happy Safe Fourth of July! The Fourth of July is a time of fun, remembrance and celebration for many Americans. Friends and family gather together to enjoy early morning parades, backyard barbecues, and nighttime fireworks. Fireworks are exciting, fun and spectacular, but don’t let an accident spoil your celebration. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year thousands of people are injured by fireworks during the months of June and July. Almost half of those injured are children and especially teenagers. The typical victim is an unsupervised teen, at home, with a group of friends, playing with fireworks. The chances are

Firing Up the Gas Grill When You Are Visually Impaired

Firing Up the Grill With the summer upon us, it is time to get out those hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, fish, and veggies. It is time to get cooking and fire up the grill! The summer months are a prime time for picnics, backyard barbecues, and grilling out with friends and family. For some of us, this cooking ritual has been a big part of our lives and having a visual impairment shouldn't keep you away from the grill! Hadley Webinar on Grilling When I lost my vision, I stopped barbecuing because I felt it was too dangerous using charcoal, lighter fluid, and wood chips. However, after listening to a webinar from the Hadley School for the

Russian Tea Takes on a New Twist

Editor's Note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter is Often the Best Medicine. My Unintended and Very Tart Version of Russian Tea Contributed by Empish Thomas Last year in December I attended a holiday jazz concert sponsored by my local talking book library. After the concert was over we all gathered for refreshments and conversation. I was served a mug of Russian Tea and immediately enjoyed its warmth, spice and sweet flavor.

Five Busy Workers,Three Buzzing Saws, Two Chugging Compressors, And A Partridge In A Pear Tree!

Editor's Note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter is Often the Best Medicine. Contributed by Sue Martin, Peer Advisor. Partridge in a Pear Tree or Something Like That! Three days before installation of our new floors, eighteen boxes of hardwood walked in the door. They had to be in the house for at least three days before installation so that the boards would be at the same temperature and humidity as the house. Who knew? I spent

Celebrating the Holidays Alone? Three Tips for Keeping Your Spirits Up and Enjoying Yourself

Celebrating the Holidays Alone The end of the year brings the holidays which can be a joyful time, but for many it also brings added stress and feelings of depression- especially if you are celebrating alone, and coping with vision loss. Here are 3 ways to beat the holiday blues and have a blast. Beating Holiday Blues Remember the true meaning of alone. Alone actually comes from Middle English meaning all (wholly) one. Even though you physically may be by yourself, you are entirely complete and all one. One of my favorite musicians, Bob Sima, sings “Alone is not a time, alone is not a place, alone is where you are witness to your loveliness and

Peer Advisor Favorite Holiday Recipes Part 2: Appetizers and Entrees

Editor's note: This is Part 2 in our Holiday Favorites recipes. It is included in the new Cooking with Confidence Series, led by Leann Gibson, Chef and VisionAware Cooking with Confidence Correspondent. You may want to read Part 1: Desserts. Appetizers Ratones Submitted by Stephen J. Wilson <img src="" alt="appetizer wrapped in bacon"

Peer Advisor Favorite Holiday Recipes Part 1: Desserts

Editor's note: The VisionAware Peer Advisors have just started a new Guide to Cooking Safely with Visual Impairment and will be adding lots of great content about cooking with visual impairment. It is housed in the cooking section, where you will find lots of helpful cooking techniques.Leann Gibson, Chef and VisionAware and Cooking with Confidence Correspondent, has pulled together the following favorite dessert recipes from our peer

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

Fun For All During the Holidays

Don't let vision loss keep you from enjoying the holidays (or anytime) with your grandchildren! The holidays offer a special and important opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren or other children in your family. You may think that with visual impairment this is no longer possible. But that's not true! Keep on reading. Games and Activities to Try Mancala: It’s a game that you can play with your children or grandchildren that doesn’t require the use of print or braille. It’s a very tactile game with colorful stones and indentations that you use to score a win. No cards to read, no timer, no board to move little pieces on. It is available through

Blind Parent, Sighted Child

Editor's note: During the holiday season, we sometimes forget about the most important miracles of life, our relationships with those we love. In this poignant post, Maribel Steel brings this home to us. Later this week, Mary Hiland continues this theme with a post about enjoying time with your grandchildren. Playing with My Son My four year old son scrambles from one activity to the next at our local playground. He knows I can’t see him properly, my vision faded years before he was born but he still calls out, "Watch me, Mummy. I’m over here." I turn my head to face the direction of his chirpy voice. "There! Now, don’t move your head." he says, "You’re looking straight at

Thanksgiving and My Membership in the Sandwich Generation

As we enter the Thanksgiving season, this post about family caregiving and family values and traditions is particularly relevant. This post is also part of our Sandwich Generation Series. Three Generations in the Home As in most family interactions, there are more smiles than teeth grindings in being a grandparent who is called upon to help raise their grandchildren. This is especially true for a

Peer Advisors' Holiday Gift Picks

'Tis the Season to Shop! The VisionAware peer advisors and Maureen Duffy, writer and editor of the VisionAware Blog, have all contributed to this post. Also be sure to read our new holiday gift guide for people who are blind or visually impaired. Peer Advisors' Gift Bucket List Deanna Noriega Deanna Noriega loves to cook and highly recommends a kitchen timer on a

Dog Guide Airs Views about the Holidays

Editor’s note: Gentry, a black Labrador retriever, shares his views and advice on how to help your dog guide have a happy holiday. His owner and peer advisor, DeAnna Noriega provided editorial assistance. Gentry’s View on Christmas Christmas is such a confusing time, all the everyday rules seem to change. A tree is not for the kitty cat to climb, or where to leave your markit's strange. Master covers it up with lights on a cord, in which it is easy to tangle your paws. But woe to the dog who breaks any laws. Don't chase the kitty cat up

How to Avoid Those Holiday Blues

Those Holiday Blues When Elvis sings "I'll have a Blue, Blue Christmas," most of us know just what he means. All during the holiday season music and ads tell us we should be happy and spending time with people we love. Sometimes, that just doesn't happen. During those "blue times" when we are alone, we must dig deep into our experience and find many little ways to enjoy our lives. I grew up in a Christian culture and so I use Christmas as the name of the key holiday in my life. The same strategies I will share for avoiding the "blues" apply, of course, to the key holidays of other world religions. Most of them apply to people who have no religion,

Traveling This Holiday Season with Your Dog Guide? Here Are Some Things to Consider

Editor's Note: This list of guidelines and suggestions for passengers who are blind or visually impaired was compiled with a great deal of input from other travelers including Jay Stitely and Crista Earl. Be Aware of Multiple Regulations First, there are several sets of laws that you need to know about when traveling. As passengers pass through an airport they are uniquely governed. The building of an airport is under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) laws. Security is under the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or Homeland Security regulations. Once a passenger arrives on the airplane then travel is

Packing for Holiday Travel

Editor's Note: The peer advisors can't get enough of sharing their tips and advice on travel tips for people who are blind or visually impaired. Last week Sue Bramhall shared her travel tips from the perspective of a business owner of a travel tour company. This time DeAnna Quietwater Noriega shares hers but with a focus on dressing for travel, packing your suitcase and traveling with a dog guide. Packing and Identifying Your

Travel Tips For People Who Are Visually Impaired

Traveling with a Visual Impairment Editor's note: with the holidays just around the corner, the peer advisors thought it would be good to share some travel tips. This guest blog post was written by Sue Bramhall: Sue Bramhall I’m a lifelong traveler who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP, and I also run a travel agency for the visually impaired. So, if you have vision loss, I’d like to share several useful travel tips. And for those of you not affected, you may find at least a few of them useful as well. Ask for Help When Needed

Peer Advisors Offer Their Favorite Holiday Gift Ideas

'Tis the Season to Shop! The VisionAware peer advisors, Maureen Duffy, Social Media Specialist,VisionAware, and Neva Fairchild, National Independent Living Associate, AFB, have all contributed to this post. Also be sure to read our new holiday gift guide for people who are blind or visually impaired. Neva's Suggestions A music box An electric razor along with tips for shaving Craft kits such as leather or

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