Browse By Topic: Low Vision

Having low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, you may it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as reading your mail, shopping, and preparing meals. Learn more about the eye conditions that can cause low vision, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa. You can also find helpful tips and techniques for everyday living skills, along with helpful products and low vision devices. Register to receive alerts and news relating to vision loss, including the latest updates in medical research.

Tips on Navigating Public Bathrooms with a Vision Impairment

By Peer Advisors Empish J. Thomas and Lynda Jones About a month ago VisionAware received an awkward but important question on the message boards. The person wanted to know about the best ways to access public bathrooms. Of course, going to the bathroom is something that we all must do but trying to figure out where everything is in a bathroom facility can be embarrassing, frustrating, and uncomfortable when you have a vision impairment. In an attempt to respond to the question, the VisionAware peers had a lively conversation about our own challenges when Mother Nature calls. We talked among ourselves about the lack of universal design and strategies we use


Cardelia Cunningham: She Keeps on Overcoming

Editor's note: In honor of Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week, we are publishing an article about Cardelia Cunningham, VRT, retired, and former employee of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. Ms. Cunningham epitomizes what the vision rehabilitation therapist is all about as a dedicated, hard-working individual who fulfilled her goals despite many adversities and who inspires others to take up the work. This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of DIALOGUE Magazine, copyright 2017 by Blindskills Inc. Cardelia Cunningham: She Keeps On Overcoming by


Suggestions for Preparing Your Taxes as a Person with Vision Loss

It's that dreaded time of year again, April 17, the date that our income taxes are due, looming large on the horizon. We have asked VisionAware's peer advisors to comment on their strategies for managing their income taxes. We have also updated our tax guide with additional links and resources, thanks to peer advisor Elizabeth Sammons. Managing Income Tax as a Small Business Owner By Beckie Horter <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=8329" alt="A


Getting in the Swim

By this time of year, we’re all longing for sunshine and outdoor activities. My favorite way to spend a sunny morning is to take a long and brisk walk with my dog guide Dora from Seeing Eye. Even better is to have a destination, like a coffee shop, but sometimes just walking a variety of routes around my neighborhood can be relaxing and a good way to sort out problems, work off some irritation, or think of how I want to write the next chapter in my book. Road Block But since September of last year, a chronic back problem has prevented me from walking without a great deal of pain. The only exercise Dora has been getting is a game of fetch in the backyard, which requires me to only throw the


Lynda Lambert Shares Prologue to Her Book "Walking by Inner Vision"

Editor's Note: VisionAware Peer Advisor Mary Hiland recommended that VisionAware publish the prologue from Peer Advisor Lynda Lambert's book, Walking by Inner Vision, as a follow up to Lynda's excellent series on


Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Editor's Note: The week of March 11 is World Glaucoma Week. Peer advisor Steph McCoy, Founder and CEO of Bold Blind Beauty, has written eloquently about her journey with this eye condition. As a real fashionista, in this post, she shares her thoughts on fashion trends, an important topic as Spring approaches. Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community by Steph McCoy, VisionAware Peer Advisor Does Loss of


Watching Movies Made from Books with Use of Audio Description

Editor's note: March is National Reading Month, and Empish Thomas has compiled a great list of movies that are based on books that you will want to check out. Also, if you love movies, her post on audio-described movies is a must read, and it includes links to other helpful articles. One more thing, the VisionAware peer advisors have put together an excellent anthology of books about adjusting to vision loss that may contain books of interest to you or a family member. Jumping


Visually Impaired Seniors Be Aware of Scams and Frauds

As a senior with vision loss, you have doubtless been encouraged to use computers, smartphones, and other access technologies to help regain and maintain your quality of life. With these devices, you can potentially recapture nearly all of the independence you once thought might be gone forever. But along with the advantages, come certain risks and responsibilities. Scams Old and New In days of yore, grifters and confidence men came knocking on your door to ply their scams. If you fell for their ploy, the nogoodnik would likely mark your fence or curb with chalka way of letting the next con man to arrive know, Here lives an easy


What’s Wrong with Mary’s Eyes?

Editor's note: February is Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month. Mary Hiland has written about her experience as a teen finally finding out about her diagnosis and how she coped. Find out more about retinitis pigmentosa. What's Wrong with My Eyes? by Mary Hiland As a little girl growing up in Cincinnati, I played with my friends in the neighborhood, riding our scooters, playing jacks, jumping rope, walking on homemade stilts, and roller-skating, but only on the


Finding Love as a Person with Vision Loss

Finding Love By Kerry Kijewski I came home from a wedding shower one June day in 2008 and decided I was sick of hiding and being alone/lonely, that I was ready to take a step toward finding love. Love hadn’t found me. It wasn’t as simple as making eye contact with a guy from across a crowded bar and him asking me for my phone number. For me, there was no possibility of that whole eyes meeting from across the crowded room phenomenon, not without enough sight to make such a thing happen on my end. So I started to think


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


Two Blind Cooks in My Kitchen!

Food is the true universal language that breaks down barriers and brings us all togetherno matter who, where, or what we are. Penny Melville-Brown, Blind Baker and Holman Prize winner When I read a message on the VisionAware message board several months ago, I knew I had to reply. It was an announcement by a woman from England who had been selected as one of three Holman Prize winners, and she was coming to cook in my home city in Australia as part of her prize-winning Baking Blind Tour. Setting Off on a Blind Ambition When Penny was informed of a particular prize being offered to people with a visual disability, she decided to pitch her vision of the possible. The Lighthouse Foundation for the Blind and Visually


“Good Health to You": Blind Alive, Eyes Free Fitness

Editor's note: January is always a time for New Year's resolutions, and maintaining a healthy life style should be at the top of your list! Read what Peer Advisor Lenore Dillon has to say about Eyes Free Fitness. Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle Can Be Challenging Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging for anyone, especially for individuals who have vision loss. Physical exercise seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle when we embark upon a fitness program. Many people lack the confidence to start exercising, as it is difficult to emulate the instructor. Find Out What Mel Scott Is Doing to Promote Good Health <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=8760" alt="Woman with yellow lab guide


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


What Does Braille Have to Do with Glaucoma? My Personal Experience

Editor's note: In January, we celebrate both National Braille Awareness and National Glaucoma Awareness months. Guest writer Jasmyn Polite shares her experience and advice as a person with glaucoma who has learned braille. Learning the Importance of Braille by Jasmyn Polite I have glaucoma and have progressively lost vision as I have grown older. When I was a young child, I thought that braille didn’t


Why I Resisted Learning Braille

Editor's note: To celebrate the life of Louis Braille (1809-1852), who made reading and writing possible for people who are blind, we’d like to acknowledge his young entrepreneurial skill that changed night writing into a code of dots we know today as braille. VisionAware peer advisor Maribel Steel, shares an excerpt from her unpublished memoir. She reflects on her teen years when her sight mysteriously worsened and how facing the question, to braille or not to braille, was met with personal uncertainty. Physical


Dave Steele Performs at the Manchester Cathedral

Caption: Nave in Manchester Cathedral, England by Michael D. Beckwith [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Editor's Note: During this time of holiday celebrations, Dave Steele brings us his poignant performance of his poetry reading at the Manchester Cathedral in England. Performance at the Manchester Cathedral By Dave Steele I was recently invited to speak at an event by a local


The Actiview App Allows for Independent Audio Description at the Movies

Have some time off during the holidays? You might want to try out some new movies at your local theater. A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful experience using a newly release app on my smartphone called Actiview. This app, available on the iPhone free of charge, allows blind and visually impaired movie goers to access audio description of a movie in the actual theater. Now you might be asking, doesn’t audio description already exist? Can’t you just ask for the accessible headset at your local theater? The answer is yes to both questions. But the cool thing about the Actiview app is that you have


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.


Understanding Vision and Perception Problems Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease

  November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness and Caregiver month. In this post, we alert you to information on how Alzheimer’s disease can alter vision and perception, what type of difficulties this can cause, and how to support and care for the person experiencing these disturbances. Even older adults with low vision or severe vision loss without the additional complications of Alzheimer's or cognitive problems need special support and accommodations to remain healthy, engaged, and


Easy Ways to Become a Guest Blogger with Low Vision

Do you often think about sharing your experience of vision loss but lack the resources to blog your own post? Perhaps you have a passion in other areas of your life you know would help others if they only knew what you knew, but coding a web post is not your forte? No problemconsider becoming a guest blogger! Maribel Steel, who is legally blind, a VisionAware peer advisor, and a Top 100 Freelance Blogger (as listed on Feedspot.com) wants to let you know it’s absolutely possible! Here are some easy ways to help you get started as a blogger without having to set up your own blog and why it is a great way to sneak into writing on the Internet. Open the Gate to Possibility <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=8708"


A Tribute to Veterans with Disabilities

Editor's note: November 11 is Veterans Day, and VisionAware is honoring those who have served us with this special tribute from VisionAware Peer Advisor DeAnna Noriega. For further information, VisionAware has an entire section devoted to Veterans including services, resources, and personal


Where to Find Help When Your Loved One Is New to Vision Loss

Editor's Note: November is National Caregivers Month with a special day celebrated on November 1. We have had a large number of inquiries from family members seeking advice, so VisionAware's support group advisor has written a special blog post to help provide some answers and resources.   Vision Loss: A Distressing Experience Vision loss is a distressing experience for not only the person with the eye condition but also for their loved ones. When a family member begins to have difficulties with activities of daily living, can no longer drive, and cannot get around safely, it can affect their partner, children, and close friends. Suddenly,


Mike Robertson, Cross-Country Cyclist Who Is Visually Impaired, Challenges Blindness and Disability Employment Stereotypes

On June 26, 2017, Mike Robertson and Hans Breaux, team Shared Vision Quest, left Cape Flattery, WA, on the northwest corner of the country to ride their bicycles 4,000 miles, coast-to-coast, to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine. Forty-nine days later, the pair arrived at their destination on August 8, 2017. Their adventure was different from many other treks across the country because Mike Robertson is legally blind. Mike rode independently on a lightweight Carver bicycle, following Hans Breaux,


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


White Cane Awareness: A History of White Cane Safety Day

Today, the white cane isn’t just a tool used by travelers with vision loss. It is a symbol for members of our community who are blind or visually impaired. White Cane Safety Day is observed annually on October 15 to recognize the many achievements of blind and visually impaired citizens and the white cane as a tool promoting independent travel. There are references of blind travelers using a stick, cane, or shepherd’s staff as a tool for independent travel since biblical times. It has only been during the last century that the white cane has served the dual role of both a tool for travel and symbol identifying the user as a blind traveler. As early as 1921, artist James Briggs, who lost his sight in an accident, claimed to have used the first white cane as a symbol when he


Self-Publishing: My Great Learning Experience

Compiled by Maribel Steel How exciting would it be to be able to announce to the world, My first book has just been published! I’m delighted to say that this is how I first heard of my fellow peer and writer friend, Mary Hiland sharing the story of her long overdue struggle to have her book published. For anyone in this similar dilemma to publish or not to publish, let’s see how it turned out for Mary. The Bumpy Road to Self-Publishing By Mary Hiland <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=7604" width="250px" alt="Mary Hiland standing on a bridge


White Cane or Dog Guide: It's Your Decision

Editor's note: With White Cane Day fast approaching on October 15, we thought that this post would be timely. Why I Am Using a Cane and Not a Guide Dog Today by Lynda Jones Although I should have learned to use a mobility cane many years before I did, it took getting lost in the women's bathroom of a large airport to make me call my local rehabilitation agency as soon as I returned home. For the next 15 months, I had


Why We Decided to Not Use a Guide Dog

Compiled by Empish Thomas September is National Guide Dog Month and is a celebration of guide dogs throughout North America. According to Wikipedia, National Guide Dog Month offers a way to raise awareness, appreciation, and support for guide dog schools across the United States. Since I lost my vision many years ago, a constant question always comes up, Empish, why don’t you use a guide dog? This is a very fair and valid question. As I was talking to my fellow VisionAware peer advisors about National Guide Dog Awareness


Four Lessons I Learned from Hurricane Irma

Editor's note: September is National Preparedness Month. The theme this year is Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can. With all of the weather emergencies taking place throughout the world during the past few weeks, Empish Thomas relates her recent experiences and lessons learned.   I must admit when Hurricane Irma hit, I was more focused on the Caribbean and the state of Florida than I was on myself. I live in the Atlanta-Metro area in Georgia, and I did not pay as much attention to the hurricane as I probably should have. Perhaps that was the first lesson learned


How I Self-Published a Book as a Writer Who Is Visually Impaired

What better way is there to leave a legacy to your family than to self-publish your own book? A book with stories and family recipes from three generations to nourish their future? This was my reason for keeping my publishing project a secret from my family so that I could produce the final book as a Christmas gift to my grown-up children. Come behind the scenes to discover how, as a writer who visually impaired, I created my book with three helper elves to make my legacy a reality. A Precious Gift The bright spark of an idea came to me in a flash three months before Christmas. I’d write a recipe book as a surprise and gift it to them for


Self-Publishing: Challenges and Rewards

Compiled by Maribel Steel Have you wondered about publishing your own book to share your life’s experience and expertise? You may think there are a lot of books out there about living with low vision and indeed, there are quite a fewexcept there is always room in the world of self-publishing to include your creative work too. In a previous post, Self-Publishing: A Pathway to Sharing Your Story,


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


Ways People Who Are Visually Impaired Can View the Solar Eclipse

It has been almost 100 years since a total solar eclipse has happened coast to coast in the United States. Typically, solar eclipses occur somewhere on earth about once every year and a half, but on Monday, August 21, everyone in the US will be able to see this momentous event. Image courtesy of NASA's Decorate Eclipse Glasses A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the disk of the sun and, as a result, the day will darken. Lasting for only a few minutes, it is an incredible sight to see but very unsafe to do so because of the


Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne: An Eye Opener in Total Darkness

Editor's note: Dialogue in the Dark is a worldwide social enterprise that has arrived in Melbourne, Australia. One of our peer advisors Maribel Steel has trained and is working as a tour guide for the inaugural group for the Melbourne exhibition. Here she shares how the experience is helping to open the eyes of the sighted community in Australia from her personal account as a tour guide. Impressions in the Darkness Picture this if you can: I am standing by a sliding door in the pitch black and hear a group of people walking towards me, although it sounds more like a


Dishwasher Users Beware: Check Twice Before Putting Soap in Your Machine

Editor's note: This is part of our ongoing series, Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an aha moment, or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers. Am I in the Middle of a Soap Opera? I have used a dishwasher for many years. I can load and set up the machine in my sleep. I simply rinse off my dishes and silverware, placing them in the various compartments.


Living with Blindness Before the ADA: Review of "Planet of the Blind"

Overview of Planet of the Blind Stephen Kuusisto's fantastic book, Planet of the Blind, details his life as someone living with blindness before the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He describes what it was like growing up, how he was ostracized throughout his education, and how he struggled to deal with his own thoughts on being disabled. In the beginning of the book, Kuusisto details the cause of his blindness and the diagnosis of retinopathy of prematurity. He also explains his visual impairment through the use of metaphors in descriptive detail. Despite being


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


ADA for All, Including Disabled Parents of Non-Disabled Children

Unless one studies and interprets the legalese of our laws, it can be quite overwhelming when trying to understand our rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as individuals with disabilities. While I had been capitalizing on services for students with disabilities during my college years, I recently came across a confusing scenario that snowballed into several departments, agencies, and advocacy groups coming together to ensure my rights be respected and, most importantly, enforced. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=7701" width="250px" alt="Steven sitting at a desk with a


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


Talking About Terrorism As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: On June 3, 2017, several major news stations interrupted their regularly scheduled programming once again to provide up-to-the-minute information relating to a terrorist attack in England. Sadly, these interruptions have become all too common in households across the country with terrorist attacks monopolizing today's headlines. Explaining these acts of terrorism to our children can be complicated. As visually impaired parents, we can't let our inability to "see" what is happening to impede our capacity to explain terrorism to our kids. In today's post, Peer Advisor Dave Steele (who resides in the UK with his wife, Amy and four children) recalls the recent terrorist attacks in his country. Dave shares a new poem and a personal story about his experience during the terror


The Knowledge of Touch: How I Learned Braille

Editor's Note: Today's blog is from Jasmyn Polite, an aspiring teacher who is visually impaired. Born with bilateral cataracts and diagnosed with glaucoma as a child, Jasmyn has worked diligently to learn to read braille in order to pursue her goals. To learn more about Jasmyn, read her story, "Jasmyn Polite: Shining a Light on Living with Glaucoma As an Aspiring Teacher." Empish reading a braille sign for the restroom Imagine you are a person who is completely blind who is in an


Review of "I Am Helen Keller" by Brad Meltzer

We can all be heroes! That’s the inspiring message of the New York Times best-selling picture book biography series, "Ordinary People Change the World" from author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos. In honor of Helen Keller’s birthday on June 27, Peer Advisor, Holly Bonner reviewed one of Meltzer’s books from the series, "I Am Helen Keller." Overview "I Am Helen Keller" "I Am Helen Keller" begins with the book describing how Helen contracted a rare disease causing her to become deaf and blind. Both the narrative and the comic book like illustrations help children to understand the fear and isolation Helen


Shared Vision Quest Coast-to-Coast Ride: Interview with Mike Robertson

"Dream Big or Go Home!" Mike Robertson Mike Robertson has a big dream that nearly got lost. "I always loved the freedom and exhilaration I got from riding my bicycle, and I wanted to go across the country. That all changed 20 years agomy vision got worse, a crash on my bike shook my confidence, and I lost my driver’s license. I climbed into a deep depression." Photo courtesy of Hans Breaux Shared Vision Quest is the resurrection of Robertson’s dream, as a coast-to-coast bicycle ride he started June 25th with his cycling partner and co-visionary,


Reasons Accidents Happen and How to Minimize Them As an Individual with Vision Loss

"Would you believe that I’ve been punched in the nose by a refrigerator, a closet door ajar, and even a wall? It’s all been caused by my hurrying frantically to get just one more task done, just one more e-mail answered, just one more load in the washer before my ride comes." Do these scenarios by a very competent, independent blind woman sound familiar? Whether blind or sighted, no matter how careful, we are to make our home environments safe, accidents are going to happen, but we can minimize them by reminding ourselves to slow down, focus on the current moment, and consistently use the safety techniques we often ignore because of our


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


Being Invisible

Editor's Note: Today's post by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is from the new series on disability. This personal story highlights the stigmas, stereotypes, marginalization, and lowered expectations people with disabilities are exposed to everyday. Read DeAnna's story and poem about how the attitudes of others have made her feel invisible and how she has chosen to make her life so much more than a stereotype. Being Invisible by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega When you are blind or visually impaired, it is easy to feel invisible. Many things are invisible to you: a stain on your favorite shirt, a dropped object that has skittered across the floor, the expression on a person’s face, or the number of gray hairs among those on your own head. Sometimes, you can begin to feel


Mental Health and Visual Impairment: Peer Perspectives

Mental Health Awareness Month Editor's Note: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five adults in the U.S., 43.8 million or 18.5 percent, experience mental illness every year. Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month, specifically highlighting and educating the public about mental illnesses. The campaign also seeks to diminish negative stereotypes associated with these diseases drawing attention to the realities of living with these conditions and providing effective strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness. Further, June is designated as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) month. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8382" width="450px" alt="logo saying I'm into mental health


Mental Health Awareness Month: Action Steps

Coordinated by Sandra Burgess, MSW, LCSW Mental Health America and its partner organizations have coordinated the observance of May as Mental Health Month throughout the United States since 1949. During this month, information to promote good mental health and treatment for common mental health issues is disseminated via media outlets, free depression screenings, and other community events. This year, Mental Health America is highlighting a campaign called Risky Business, an effort to educate the public about some habits or behaviors that can lead to mental illness, be warning signs of present mental illness, or


The Bookshelf: Review of "Upwelling" by Ann Chiappetta

A Breath, an Intonation Expresses a Desire to Act This thought, the desire to act, begins a journey we will take as we pick up the first book written by Ann Chiappetta who has been blind since 1993. Upwelling is a short book of poetry; it’s her first book. Because Ann works as a readjustment counseling therapist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, I was curious why she selected this title for her book. She replied, It means the welling up of thoughts, feelings, and emotions which are made into words and shared with the reader. The image begins as a thought, an impulse, which comes to life through her words. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8388" alt="Book cover of Upwelling by Ann Chiappetta


Maintaining Independent Living with a Visual Impairment

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger, Jackie Waters. Jackie is a mother of four boys and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same through her own website. She has recently had an older relative come live with her and, together, they worked on needed changes in the home to make it safe and easy to access. We are sharing this for Older Americans Month to help caregivers and their loved ones who are encountering similar situations. A Stranger in Your Own Home If you’re dealing with some sort of visual impairmentwhether it be from injury,


Understanding Models of Disability

Editor's Note: In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, VisionAware is happy to share the inaugural post of a new series on disability led by Steven Wilson. Steven was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome at the age of 41. (Usher Syndrome is an inherited condition that causes partial or total hearing loss accompanied by gradual vision loss resulting from retinitis pigmentosa.) He is enrolled at the University of Arizona and plans to get his master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7701" alt="Steven sitting at a desk with a laptop using CART"


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


Reviewing Books on Blindness: Harnessing Courage and Moving Forward As an Individual with Vision Loss

Editor's note: These book reviews by Peer Advisor, Amy Bovaird are part of the VisionAware Bookshelf Series. Each book shares a message of facing vision loss straight on and finding the courage and will power to move forward with life as someone living with a visual impairment. Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity Through Grit and Gratitude by Laura Bratton By


During Older Americans Month, Meet the Challenges of Aging with Vision Loss

How Can We Add More "Life" to Our Life? Science and medicine have added more years to our life, but how can we add more "life" to our years? Growing older is not just about loss and decline, it can bring new opportunities and adventures. We all want to age gracefully and maintain our independence, but what is the secret to positive aging and satisfaction in this stage of life? A growing number of Americans are aging with disabilities which threaten their independence. According to the 2010 Census, almost 50 percent of respondents over age 64 reported some level of disability. Specifically, the prevalence of vision loss is growing


"Walking by Inner Vision" Book Review

Celebrating our successes as visually impaired people is an essential step on the journey to healing. Peer advisor, Lynda McKinney Lambert knows this firsthand. Celebrating in a Memorable Way After profound vision loss in 2007 due to Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, Lynda did not use a computer for almost two years. When she finally did relearn her way around the computer with the help of adaptive technology, she decided to celebrate in a memorable way. She started a blog. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8333" alt="The cover of Lynda Lambert's book, Walking


During National Autism Month, Think About Employment Opportunities for Adults Who Are Blind and Have Autism Spectrum Disorder

April is National Autism Awareness month. The purpose of this post is to increase awareness of autism and to encourage you to think outside of the rehabilitation box! When I was studying for my degree in vision rehabilitation for adults, I learned about self-stimulating behaviors often called "blindisms." Behaviors such as repetitive speech or echolalia, constant rocking whether


Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs

I wrote this poem while walking 16 blocks with my sixth guide dog to a dental appointment. I am sharing it to honor my nine guide dogs on April 26th, International Guide Dog Day! Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs We are cloud dancers, You lead and I follow. Our steps synchronized Our bodies swaying to the same rhythm. Swept along in the current of the jet stream. Floating lightly on the swell of an updraft, Swooping into a glide down the slope of a


Four Things I Learned from the 1Touch Self-Defense Project

In March, I attended the AFB Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. One of the numerous workshop sessions on the agenda that I found interesting was on the 1Touch Self-Defense Project. I had taken a self-defense class for people with visual impairments, but it was many years ago, and I have to admit I was pretty rusty on the topic and even more on the physical techniques. So, I decided to attend the class to get a refresher and update my skills and knowledge. The session was only for about an hour, but I learned a wealth of information that I want to share with you in this post. <img


Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry

Editor's note: In today's post, Maribel interviews Dave Steele, a visually impaired poet and song writer. We first learned of Dave and his inspiring poetry during Valentine's Day when he shared a poem on retinitis pigmentosa. Learn more about Dave by reading his personal story. Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8128" alt="Dave Steele holding his book, Stand with Me RP"


Out of Sight Gardening: Tips on Raised Bed Gardening for Individuals with Vision Loss

Out of Sight Gardening By Bill Holton, VisionAware Contributor As the snow melts and the days grow longer, it’s only natural for our thoughts to turn to springtime gardening. I do a lot of vegetable gardening, and last spring, I offered several tips for gardening with vision loss. Some of these included using bamboo stakes to mark row ends and kebab skewers to mark where you have planted seeds, so you’ll be able to


How to Get the Most from the Bard in Your Book

Being blind or visually impaired doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying a good book. As we celebrate National Reading Month in March, peer advisor and visually impaired freelance writer, Maribel Steel, highlights some of the benefits we can all continue to enjoy either on our own or with our children when we want to get the most from the "bard" in our books. First Impressions The magical world of words that first excites a child’s imagination is often conjured up from fairy tales and fables of childhood. This is a time of wonderment where the bard and the book are one, where nothing can replace the drama of a character as beautifully as in the voice of a loved one. My own experience when I first heard the bard come alive in books were in the voices my


Many Different Hats: An Audio Short Story

Editor's note: In honor of National Reading Month, today's post features an audio recording of Maribel Steel's story, "Many Different Hats." Whether you enjoy reading large print, braille, or following along with audiobooks, the VisionAware peers encourage you to continue to enjoy reading. Click the link below to listen to Maribel's story. Listen to "Many Different Hats" Transcript (Soft music plays then fades out as the narrator begins to speak) Narrator:"Many Different Hats," written by Maribel Steel and read by Carol Middleton. Playing Time: 7:51 minutes.


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


Friendship on International Women's Day

As women from every corner of the globe come together to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, VisionAware peer advisor, Maribel Steel, acknowledges the feminine spirit that nurtures, supports, and uplifts through the sisterhood of friendship. Women in Collaboration A few years ago, I was the project coordinator for a World Premiere music event in Melbourne, Australia called, "Precious Music, Precious Water." I mention it here because it was a project commissioned by The Victorian Womens’ Trustit was an insightful experience to be at the


Blind Dating: Looking for Love in the Digital Age

“Yes, blind people do care about physical things, and yes, we are sexual beings. Very much so,” Nefertiti Matos says through a laugh in the opening scene of the documentary, Blind Date. She is one of three main characters in the film who shares her experience of dating in our digital age as someone who is visually impaired. The film, which was first released in 2015, follows Nefertiti and two men, Anthony Butler and Gus Chalkias. All three are living in New York and actively participating in the dating scene without their sense of sight. Navigating Online Dating There are over seven


My Guide Dog, Grant: A Reason, a Season, and for a Lifetime

It was once said, and now often repeated, that “people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Although the author of this quote is unknown, I believe that he would extend the meaning of this quote to service animals that come into our lives for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. For those of us who have gained the experience of working with a guide dog, there is certainly a special place in our hearts for their dedication and affection. The Reason My personal experience with using a guide dog came in my early 50s. Although I had been visually impaired all of my life, I


A Poem on Retinitis Pigmentosa to Shine On Valentine's Day

When Dave Steele learned that he was losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), he took to expressing his fears, thoughts, and experiences through writing poems, songs, and verses. Only two years on, Dave has produced many creative works in raising awareness of the challenges people face in a similar situation. His book, Stand by Me RP is a touching collection of poems reflecting on his journey. We couldn’t think of anything finer for Valentine’s Day than to highlight one of his love poems to his wife and thank Dave for giving VisionAware permission to feature a poem so close to his heart. "I have always believed that music and poetry can make an impact, touch the heart, and


Six Tips for Your Out-of-the-Box Museum Visit

Editor's note: Just in time for planning for Valentine's Day, we bring you this post by Lynda Lambert. Lynda suggests that you might consider a similar trip to a museum or art gallery as a fun Valentine's outing. Read and enjoy! Visiting the Andy Warhol Museum Recently, I invited my daughter and great-granddaughter to help me celebrate my birthday with a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum which is located about 40 miles from our home. Since my great-granddaughter was celebrating her birthday that month, it was perfect timing for us. This could be a great idea for a Valentine’s Day excursion with a friend or family member too. I wanted to take photographs in the museum, so I asked at the entrance desk for permission. My only restriction was to not use a flash


The 1Touch Project™: Personal Safety for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's note: With this post, VisionAware is rolling out a new series on "Dealing with Crime or Domestic Violence As a Person with a Disability." In this series, you will find articles on the disturbing statistics on crimes against people with disabilities, information and resources on domestic abuse, and personal stories that two peer advisors have written about their own experiences. We are also offering information on self-defense techniques that have been adapted or developed for people with vision loss, including the 1Touch


Review of "How Do You Do It Blind: Answers from People with Blindness and Visual Impairment"

This review is part of our bookshelf series Author Shares His Story of Blindness In 109 pages, Steven Obremski truly accomplishes his goal—to answer the question posed in the book's title “How Do You Do It Blind” for both the general public and people who are newly visually impaired. Answers are provided by hundreds of visually impaired people Steven has worked with in the blindness field, people he interviewed for this book, and his own life experiences. In chapter one,


Beginning on a Positive "Quote"

At this time of year, New Year resolutions abound. As a writer and a person living with a visual impairment, I am always on the look out for uplifting quotations that will help me focus on new ventures and goals. I find encouragement and peace of mind when I stop for a moment to consider the wise words of others and can gain insights for my personal aspirations. Like a beacon radiating with light, quotations have the ability to cast a more positive perspective on our thought process when life can get challenging. Following are 17 quotations especially chosen for their uplifting message under the three themes of acceptance, courage, and


A Time of Joy and a Time of Sorrow: Grandmothering Without Sight

Editor's note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents and grandparents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. In today's post, Sheila Rousey shares her experience of becoming a grandmother with vision loss. A Time of Joy and a Time of Sorrow: Grandmothering Without Sight by Sheila Rousey


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


Listen with the Lights Out: 19 Podcasts About Blindness

Editor's note: This blog post by Susan Kennedy was originally posted on The Bello Collective, a newsletter and publication about audio storytelling and the podcast industry. Listen with the Lights Off: 19 Podcasts About Blindness Ever since I loaded my beloved orange iPod mini with Fresh Air episodes, I’ve enjoyed podcasts. Gaining a disability a few years ago didn’t end my love of the audible word, it enhanced it. Currently,


Senior Center Without Walls: Opportunities for Connection and Community from Your Home

As you go through the holidays and start thinking about the new year, I am sure that, like everyone else, you are considering what's ahead for you. Based on my own experiences this past year, I highly recommend that you consider involvement in the Senior Center Without Walls, as a volunteer and/or participant. Find out why! What is Senior Center Without Walls? Senior Center Without Walls (SCWW) is an innovative outreach program for seniors which offers activities, education, friendly conversation, and an assortment of classes, support groups, and presentations all done over the phone or computer. Each week, seniors can access over 70 groups or classes by phone or


A Grandma's Thoughts

Editor's note: This post is part of the Blind Parenting series created to provide visually impaired parents and grandparents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. In today's post, Mary Hiland shares the importance of teaching children how to interact with individuals who have low vision and how to build positive relationships. A Grandma's Thoughts By Mary Hiland, grandmother


International Day of Disabilities Celebrated December 3

On December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed worldwide. Started in 1992 with support from the United Nations, this day seeks to foster inclusion for all who live with disabilities by promoting dignity, respect, and community inclusion. The theme for 2016 is "Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want." In keeping with the celebration of this day, we will focus on disability etiquette as it applies to people who are blind or visually impaired. Be sure to read, "Speak to Me," Part 2 of this post. A


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="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7947" alt="Happy


Knowing How Doesn't Always Get the Job Done!

Editor's note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an aha moment, or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers. Being Handy Around the House After teaching daily living skills and other courses about blindness for several years at Florida State University, I consider myself quite independent. I'm a pretty good cook and keep


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


Overcoming Assumptions: A Blind Mobility Specialist's Perspective

Editor's note: Today's post is about overcoming assumptions people with vision loss face. Our new peer advisor, J Steele-Louchart shares his experience as a blind mobility specialist. Overcoming Assumptions: A Blind Mobility Specialist's Perspective Blindness is a quality of our being. It's as integral to our identities as our nationality, language, and personality. In fact, it's often so fundamental to us that we begin to forget that we're blind. Blindness is simply a part of who we are. To the sighted, however, or to those transitioning from sightedness to


A Day at the Races with No Horses

Editor's note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an aha moment, or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers. Enjoying Horse Races Since Childhood Whenever I think of the Kentucky Derby, I am reminded of those wonderful summer afternoons when my mother took me to River Downs near Cincinnati. Certainly, I was too young to bet, but my mother and I would each choose a horse, mostly based on their


How Congenital Vision Loss Affects Motherhood

Editor's Note: Not every woman grows up wanting to be a mother. For those living with a congenital eye disease, learning of a pregnancy can cause mixed emotions. The following story, based on an interview with a blind mother who has chosen to stay anonymous, depicts how genetic vision loss can dim the brightness of that maternity glow. How Congenital Vision Loss Affects Motherhood Our blind mom, who we’ll refer to as M, was born in 1966 with cataracts on both her lenses, rendering them completely opaque. Her parents were told the ocular condition was either genetic or from a flu her mother had contracted quite possibly being passed to the baby in utero. M had a few low vision relatives within her family tree. However, in the late 1960s


The Perfect Guide Dog

Often as I go about my business accompanied by my guide dog, people remark on his beauty, good manners, and say things like, I wish my dog was as well behaved as yours. They don’t seem to understand that a lot of work on the part of a puppy raiser, a guide dog instructor, and yes, me too, goes into creating the picture perfect dog at my side. He has the same instincts and impulses as the pet they have at home, but he understands that when in harness, he must focus on the job for which he was trained. However, he is first and foremost a dog. He has been bred for intelligence and carefully raised


I'm Not Blind

Editor's note: In honor of Worldwide Week of Service in Sight and World Sight Day, Steve Kelley brings you today's post, I'm Not Blind, a story of adjusting to visual impairment. As the world focuses its attention on preventable and unavoidable blindness, we encourage you to reach out to the rehabilitation services and eye care professionals that can help you cope with your vision loss and improve your useful vision. I'm Not Blind By Steve Kelley What comes to mind when you think about blindness? If you feel fearful or anxious about blindness, you are not alone. In a


What Does It Take to Become a Guide Dog?

Guide dog schools everywhere are committed to the mission of producing, training, and matching skilled guide dogs with handlers who are visually impaired, to provide safe and independent mobility. The mission is multi-faceted and requires a huge investment of time, talent, and money. Transforming a little ball of fur into a responsible and disciplined working dog takes patience and commitment from many people along the way. And the people who do this work are driven by a special passion, both for the dogs and the people they will serve. They would say the reward of witnessing a successful guide dog team working together makes it all worth it. Guide


The Reserve Bank of Australia Hits the Jackpot with an Accessible Banknote

Editor's note: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a celebration of a diverse workforce and the contributions of workers with disabilities. This year's theme is Inclusion Works. Maribel Steel describes what Australia is doing with their currency to make inclusion work in this post about the new accessible $5 AUD banknote. The Reserve Bank of Australia recently put a new, accessible banknote into circulation, the first of its kind in Australia. The new banknote has unique security features and allows easy recognition for people who are blind or visually impaired. More Than Meets the


What to Do if Mismatched to a New Guide Dog?

With September being Guide Dog Appreciation Month, here is a post with a difference. What happens if you feel mismatched to your new guide dog? Peer advisor, Mary Hiland, shares her advice from personal experience to trust your feelings and not to feel you are doing anything wrong. It's All About the Match Instructors at the dog guide schools work very hard to make sure they have found exactly the right dog for each student. My first three dogs were proof of their diligence. Mindy, my first, was a very serious worker, but one of the most affectionate and loving dogs I’ve had. She was great for my first dog, because one of us had to know what we were doing, and it certainly wasn’t


Determining the Livability of Communities for People with Vision Loss

Editor's note: Finding a livable community for people who are visually impaired can be very challenging. In 2003, the American Foundation for the Blind did a study to determine the key criteria for livable communities for people who are blind or visually impaired. VisionAware recently followed up on this study to determine if the criteria identified years ago was still viable and if the cities named in the study still made the list. Although not just for seniors, we are bringing you this post just in time for Healthy Aging Month. Developing Criteria on the


8 Things I Wish People Knew About Going Blind From a Degenerative Eye Condition

Today's blog is from Joy Thomas of Double Vision Blog. Joy and Jenelle are identical twin sisters with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) who hope to share their perspectives, experiences, and challenges with vision loss. 8 Things I Wish People Knew About Going Blind From a Degenerative Eye Condition It usually occurs slowly. While there are some people who go blind overnight or in a matter of days, such as with detached retinas, following eye surgeries, or with


Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Sue with guide dog So a song by the American artist, Ella Fitzgerald, begins. I grew up in the American south. As a child the heat never really bothered me. We spent the summers outside, usually at summer camp. When not at camp, we were outside riding our ponies or playing physically demanding games. It’s quite different now! My day job is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I spend my days before a computer. It’s a fun job, and I enjoy my team and the work we do. But it’s a pretty sedentary job. Last February, I trained with my fifth


Physical Fitness: Move More, Sit Less

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” but what does this mean exactly? How does it affect me and what can I do about it? Impact of Increasingly Sedentary Lifestyles Researchers have been studying our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years to determine the impact on our health and mortality. With advancements in technology, people are sitting more and moving less. From sitting during our daily commute, sitting in the office or on our computers, sitting to watch television…you get the picture. It is actually making us sick and killing us. The World Health Organization has determined physical inactivity is the 4th leading


Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part Two

Imagine after years of preparing to enter the workforce and finally landing your dream job, you begin to lose your vision. You feel defeated and everyone around you thinks you won’t be able to find gainful employment or continue to work. Despite the critics and those who doubt your ability, you must always remember that you are capable. Detra Bannister took those words to heart yesterday in her story, “Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part One” on the CareerConnect Blog. Read how Detra overcame her vision loss and championed her skills into a successful career in today’s story. Nurses with Disabilities Have Great


Protect Your Independence: Create a Fall Prevention Plan

Editor's note: September is National Fall Prevention Month. The VisionAware peer advisors felt it important to bring to our readers the risk factors as well as what you can do to prevent falls. VisionAware has many resources to help you and many of these are included in this post. Being Pro-Active My vision loss has caused me to fall many times in the past. As I get older this concerns me because I realize the potential for serious injuries. So I decided to attend a workshop on Fall Prevention. I would like to share the highlights of what I learned since this is National Fall Prevention Month. Falls Are Not a "Normal" Part of the Aging Process Many


Lessons Learned in the School of Life: Going to School with the Dinosaurs as a Visually Impaired Student

Contemplating my twenty-two and a half years of school as a visually impaired student, I can divide the time into three periods: pre-technology, some technology, and the beginning of assistive technology. Kindergarten The half year I alluded to was kindergarten. For me, it was very disappointing. As I told my mother when I came home the first day, “I did not learn to read!” Reading was the bottom line for me. I did learn to climb the monkey bars and could even pass another student as we scooted along on the top. This was a definite achievement for a five-year-old with ten degrees of visual field. So…I dropped out and waited for first


Seeing Colors With My Brain Versus My Eyes

Healthy Vision Month Editor's note: May is Healthy Vision Month. Although Maribel has retinitis pigmentosa, a group of hereditary retinal diseases for which there is presently no definitive treatment, in this post she discusses her appreciation of vision. She encourages you to make your eye health a priority during this month. Take the first step by getting a dilated eye exam. And find out more steps you can take to preserve vision. <img


What Do You See?

A Question That is Difficult to Answer As a person with a visual impairment, I am asked this question many times and it is difficult to answer. Often, I do not know what I see…for what I am looking at does not declare itself readily. The world through my eyes is a shadowy, ill-defined place with uncertain shapes and colors. I am losing the ability to detect light and color in increments as if the world around me is a watercolor scene fading into the canvas. At times, I see nothing, only darkness and danger; other times the world is brilliantly washed in diffuse light and a soft blurriness which is almost beautiful… like a Monet…


Insights about Using an iPhone: Pros and Cons for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Peer Advisors Talk About Their Experiences with iPhones Why I LOVE my iPhone! by Audrey Demmitt I was the last one in my family to have an iPhone. I resisted it for some time, feeling intimidated by the technology. Eventually, I got one for Christmas at my husband’s prodding. My adult kids were all home and spent time teaching me how to use it, setting the accessibility features and downloading helpful apps. They encouraged me to "just start looking around and using it and you will learn what it can do." Every day, I learned new functions


Adjusting My Career to Vision Loss

Editor's note: Welcome Audrey Demmitt, new VisionAware Peer Advisor. A Career I Dreamed Of The day I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1983 with a nursing degree was a personal triumph. I looked forward to a career I dreamed of since childhood. I was certain I had found my life’s passion in nursing. My future was full of promise and excitement. Then at age 25, a vision exam turned everything upside down. The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa and my future became uncertain. Continued to Work After Diagnosis A long journey followed as I struggled to


Living with Diabetes

Facing Diabetes and Its Complications "You can eat all the ice cream you want in heaven." So began the eulogy for my friend Sally who had died of diabetic complications two days before. The minister's talk was aimed particularly to Sally's six year old son on the front row of the chapel. I cringed because I have diabetes too. My feelings were exactly the same when my doctor informed me that I had the scary disease six years ago. I loved sweets, still do, but I thought then that they would be available to me only in the next world. That's what everyone says: "No sweets." I knew that I wanted a different answer. Educational Seminar I attended a day-long diabetes educational


You Don’t Know What You Can’t See When You Can’t See It

There's Nothing More That Can Be Done The news was devastating. "Ms. McCoy," the doctor said, "I'm so sorry to tell you there is nothing more we can do for you." Those simple words confirmed my worst fears. I am now legally blind. I was numb and my heart was beating so violently I had a difficult time focusing on the doctor's next words. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor continued, "Ms. McCoy, you have lived with myopia all your life and you have done everything you should do by regularly visiting the eye doctor but you have reached the point where


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