(N) Navigation | How to Guide a Person who is Blind or has Low Vision (AToZChallenge 2021)

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My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired and to address misconceptions regarding the blind and low vision community. In this post I want to discuss how to correctly guide and give directions to a blind or visually impaired person.

How to give directions to a certain object or room

When you direct a person who is blind or has low vision you should specific language. You should use phrases such as to your left or to your right or straight ahead. You should avoid phrases like over there or that way.

Entering a car

It is important for a blind or visually impaired person to know if they are entering the front or back seat and what side so for orientation purposes.

Approaching a door

It is important to let the person who is blind or has low vision open the door themselves. This allows them to know which direction the door is opening and avoid any accidents.

Providing sighted guide

The person who is blind or has low vision should hold on to the elbow of the person who is guiding and walk 1 step behind. In narrow areas they can put one hand on their shoulder.

Some extra thoughts

The important to remember is that communication is key but this is possible when there is teamwork.

(M) Magnification Tools for People with Low Vision (#AToZChallenge)

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My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired and to break down misconceptions that still exist regarding the blind and low vision community. Today I want to discuss magnification tools for people with low vision. 

There are many magnifiers to choose from. There are full page magnifiers as well as pocket size magnifiers. There are also magnifiers with LED screen magnifiers that allow users to change color contrast and adjust the font size. These magnifiers come in a range of sizes, they can be as small as a mobile phone to the size of a desktop computer. You can learn more here. 

There is also software that magnifies the screen on the computer and is available free on Windows and mac devices.

I resisted using these tools while in school because I did not want to look more different. The glasses I use are in fact magnifiers as I use a very high prescription and I did not want to be seen with extra tools. This attitude did more harm to me and made things much harder for me so I should have used these tools as things would have been much easier for me.  

(L) Lighting a Candle | How a Blind or Visually impaired Person Lights a Candle (#AToZChallenge 2021)

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My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired and to address the misconceptions regarding those in the blind and visually impaired community.

In this post I will discuss the topic of candles. This may seem like a random topic but I want to show that a blind or visually impaired person is able to light a candle independently.

I think it is important to highlight these tasks because it shows that the loss of sight does not stop a person from enjoying every day life.

I want to say that I am visually impaired and I personally choose to avoid candles but this is my personal choice. There are several examples of blind and visually impaired people who love candles and use them independently.

Here are some videos below. I think this is a better way to explain this.

Now you know that it is safe and possible for blind and visually impaired people to use candles.

(K) KNFB Reader | Assistive Tech for Blind and Visually Impaired People (AToZChallenge)

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My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired and to address some of the misconceptions regarding the blind and low vision community.

Technology has come a long way in the last decades. This is true in the area of assistive technology. Artificial intelligence allows a computer to recognize images, read text aloud and now it is possible for these types of software to read handwritten documents.

This has opened the door to those that are blind or have low vision allowing them to access many items independently. This technology is now available on cell phones expanding accessibility.

In this post I want to highlight the KNFB Reader.

This app is available for Apple, Android and Microsoft Windows 10 devices. It is able to read printed material from brochures to receipts to product labels. The app converts the text to speech.

There are several other apps available that perform the same task but I want to give an example of how accessible things have become. These apps make it possible for documents to be accessed independently and in a much more expedient manner. This opens the doors to more employment opportunities and independence in all aspects of life.

You can find out more about the app here.

(J) Jobs Held by Those who are Blind or have Low Vision (#AToZChallenge 2021)

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My theme for the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is to give an overview of what it is like to be visually impaired and to break misconceptions that exist regarding the blind and visually impaired community.

Unemployment has always been high among those in the blind and visually impaired community. Some research shows that in 2017 the unemployment rate was at about 70 percent. There have been many advances in technology that make it possible for a person to work without sight.

Screen readers make computers accessible by using text to speech software. Artificial intelligence is now being used to provide image descriptions although these are not always reliable.

There are now portable braille displays with refreshable braille that converts everything on a computer or phone screen into braille.

There are now tactile drawing sets that turn a drawing into raise lines so a person can feel the drawing. There are talking scales and calculators and measuring tools that make it possible to complete many tasks. 

Today I want to highlight some of the jobs that are held by those who are blind or have low vision.

A blind scientist

Mona Minkara is a computational chemist and is a professor at Northeastern University. Read more about her and the tools that allow her to do her job here.

A blind lawyer

Jack Chen is a lawyer for Google. Learn how e is able to do his job in the video below.

A visually impaired graphic designer

Angela is a graphic designer who has low vision. Learn more about her story in the video below.

Some extra thoughts

I hope that these examples prove that a blind or visually impaired person is capable of holding a variety of jobs. Society has to be more open to this fact and begin to give those in the blind and visually impaired communities more opportunities.