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.
One of the misconceptions that some people have about blind or visually impaired people is that they are not able to live independently. People think that they need a caregiver at all times. In this post I want to share that it is possible for a blind person to live independently. I am visually impaired myself and I do still live with my parents but this is my choice and it has nothing to do with my vision impairment.
How a person who is blind or has low vision handles money
First, to have money, you must have a source of income. It is true that over 70 percent of people that are blind or visually impaired are unemployed, but it is possible for a blind or visually impaired person to hold a job in various career fields and to perform the work as well as their sighted peers due to assistive technology. I will be discussing jobs in my next post in this series. Let’s get back to the matter of money. There are apps that can identify dollar bills and there are ways to organize money in a wallet to keep track of each amount. Most banks have now moved online and this makes things even more accessible information can be accessed using screen reads which are text to speech programs that read the text on the screen. Banks also offer large print checks and some banking cards can have braille added to them. A person who is blind or has low vision is able to manage their finances independently.
I will also add how the mail and Bill’s are read.
How a person who is blind or has low vision cooks and shops for groceries
A person who is blind or has low vision shops for groceries like everyone else. They can go to a physical store and the only difference is that they may ask for a shopping assistant to help them locate items. All stores should offer this service to their customers that need it. There is also an app called AiRA that connects to a trained agent over video call and they can assist a vlind or visually impaired person to navigate a store and locate items. Delivery services have become more widely available as well allowing all the shopping to be done online from home.
Cooking without sight is not much different from cooking with sight. There are tools that make certain kitchen tasks more accessible. There are talking food thermometers and talking scales There are measuring spoons and cups with braille and large print labels. There are tips and hacks that make things safer and easier but it is very possible to cook without sight.
How a person who is blind or has low vision handles daily living and household tasks
When it comes to getting dressed a blind or visually impaired person is able to pick out their own clothes and have their own style. I wrote more about that here..
A blind or visually impaired person is able to do laundry independently. Machines can be made accessible with bump dots to identify buttons on a touch screen. This system works for all touch screen machines around the home.
Cleaning can be done by touch and it may not be perfect but it is doable.
Some extra thoughts
I hope that this gives you a better insight into what is possible. Please leave any questions in the comments below.
October is Blindness Awareness Month and today I want to share some of the tools that make my life easier as a visually impaired person. I hope that this will be helpful. These tools work in the workplace as well.
1. Sharpy Marker
I can no longer see the ink from regular pens or pencils. I need a lot of contrast to be able to see things so a black bold marker stands out and I can see what I am writing. These days I only ever write on paper when I am making a greeting card.
I need to use a very high prescription when it comes to my glasses so they make my eyes look very big. My glasses help me see objects and people but I cannot see small details.
3. A White Cane
I use a white cane even though I have some usable vision. The white cane helps me detect curves and steps and objects that may be in my path. The cane also alerts others that I cannot see them so well. I use it when I am out on my own for safety reasons and it is a very helpful tool for me.
4. A Smart Phone
I use the screen reader and magnification accessibility options on my phone. I use TalkBack on Android. I am thankful for these accessibility options because they allow me to access my phone independently. I access my computer in the same way.
Share Your Tools
Feel free to share the tools that help you each day whether you have a disability or not. Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and it is also Blindness Awareness Month. I want to take this opportunity to share some information regarding employment and the blind and visually impaired community.
It is widely known that the unemployment rate for those in the blind and visually impaired community is very high at about 70 to 75 percent. I want to focus on sharing examples of blind and visually impaired people in the workplace. I want to bring attention to the fact that blindness is not an obstacle and the job may get done a little differently but it will get 100 percent done.
The video below shows the various assistive devices that are available and how a blind person gets their work done at the office. I hope that all employers will watch this and be open to hiring more people in the blind and visually impaired community.
According to an article from Cool Blind Tech the glove is able to read printed text under a person’s finger. I think this is a great tool because it is more discreet than other options such as CCTV’s or devices that are similar to glasses but are bulky and attract much attention.
I am not against using assistive devices but this cwould help students that are struggling to fit in in school or someone at a job site.