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.
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.
In this post I want to bring attention to some foundations and organizations that support the blind and low vision community.
Foundation Fighting Blindness
The FFB has been doing research for 50 years and has worked to identify Gene’s that lead to retinal diseases. They also help fund various research projects and clinical trials for potential cures to these diseases.
Two Vlind Brothers
Brothers Bradford and Bryan started a clothing line to bring awareness to the fight against blindness. 100% of the profits go towards research and to foundations such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness. You can learn more about them and visit the shop here.
American Foundation for the Blind
The American Foundation for the Blind has been around for more than 100 years. The foundation helps fund initiatives to help those in the blind and low vision community have access to education, employment and full inclusion in their communities. You can learn more about them here.
The National Federation of the Blind
The NFB was founded in 1940. This organization is comprised of people who are blind or have low vision from all walks of life. They have chapters in all 50 states in the U.S. plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. They hold an annual national convention that brings those in the blind and low vision community and their supporters together from all over the world.
This organization often advocates for the rights of blind people and has supported many legal cases on this issue. They also run several training centers to help those in the blind and low vision community learn the skills needed to lead an independent life. They have more resources for children all the way to seniors. Learn more about the NFB here.
The American Council of the Blind
The ACB is also an organization comprised of those in the blind and visually impaired community. They hold an annual convention and they offer many resources and programs to support those in the blind and visually community and their families. You can learn more about them here.
These are only a few of the organizations that support the blind and low vision community. 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 educate others on topics related to the community. In the next post I will discuss guide dogs.
Yes, a person who is blind or has low vision is fully able to dress themselves independently. The only exception would be in the task of identifying colors accurately. Yes, a person who is blind or has low vision can be into fashion and jewelry and makeup. The lack of sight is not an obstacle when it comes to enjoying this aspect of life. There are several tips, hacks and tools that make it possible to enjoy all of these things without eyesight.
Clothing is distinguishable by touch, by the style and texture. There are various apps available that are able to identify colors. The apps may not always be accurate so some sighted assistance may be needed for a new piece of clothing but this information could be obtained at the store. Clothing can be labeled with braille labels as well as other methods such as using puff paint to make dots instead of braille.
Organization is important and someone that is blind or visually impaired is usually very organized as it makes it much easier to find items. I have shared more on this topic here.
Jewelry is a very tactile item in many cases and sight is not needed to appreciate the item. If you are looking for jewelry with an accessible touch check out Elegant Insights.
All of the items they offer can be engraved with braille.
A person who is blind or has low vision is able to apply makeup independently. Yes it takes practice, and there are tips and hacks to make it easier but it is not an impossible task.
When you are blind or have low vision it can be complicated to make your way through a world that is built for sighted people. It is a common feeling to feel out of place. I am here to say that although it is hard at times it is not an impossible task. The first point that should be addressed on this journey through a sighted world for a person who is blind or visually impaired is the aspect of accessibility. Here are some ways that society can make things more accessible for people that are blind or have low vision.
There are several ways that restaurants can become more accessible to people that are visually impaired. First, they should have accessible menus. A menu in braille and a large print menu should be frequently updated and made available. It is also important to have an accessible website with an up to date menu as some visually impaired people prefer to refer to the site to access the menu. I am visually impaired myself and I prefer to look at the menu before I arrive at the restaurant.
Menus4All is a good resource for restaurants to make their menus accessible.
Second, restaurants should try to offer seating areas that have the option to increase lighting. Low lit areas can be challenging for some people that have low vision. I am one of those people and I think that having adjustable lighting options in select seating areas would be helpful.
Third, restaurant management should train their staff on how to best assist a visually impaired person if necessary. The staff should be trained on how to provide sighted guide if it is ever needed and have a basic understanding of what it is like to be visually impaired.
Movies, TV shows, plays and even concerts and sports broadcasts can be made accessible to those that are blind or visually impaired by including audio description. Audio description is the narration of all the visual aspects of a scene such as the clothing characters are wearing to a detailed description of the scene. This helps to fill in the gaps that the dialogue will miss and helps provide a full experience of the show. Accessible show programs in braille and large print should be provided where applicable.
The internet has become the gateway to all of the information for all aspects of life. It is very frustrating when a website is not fully accessible. Every site should be compatible with screen readers, they should offer the option to change the color contrast and they should be designed to be used with enlarged text. These points apply to apps as well.
Some extra thoughts
These tips can be applied to any industry. I hope that accessibility can become more common and that there will be more education on the need for accessibility in all aspects of society. Everyone can play a part in making this world a more accessible place.
You can learn more about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here. Come back each day this month except on Sundays to read my next post for this series. Thank you for reading.