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Living Independently: Are You Prepared?

Living-independently-emergency-checklistAs a person with a disability you’re well aware of the adjustments that are made for daily living. Most are things that so many without a disability take for granted. Could there be an element even you haven’t thought of or take for granted that just hasn’t crossed your mind to worry about? Could you be unprepared? Studies show that those with disabilities are at worst, unprepared for, or without some difficulty in achieving-the ability to carry out emergency plans. This article explains the horrifying numbers and his concern for this problem. Get yourself ready! 

Find more useful information and news here.

Emergency Plans Lacking for Most with Disabilities
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Vision Loss Technology: Where Is It?

Technology-lacking-for-visual-loss-educationEvery day, if we searched, we could find some sort of new innovation to make our lives easier, faster and more accessible. One area that seems to be severely lacking with regard to accessibility for the disabled community is innovation for the blind or visually impaired. It seems especially lacking within the education system, where arguably its need most. Kyle Shachmut, a technology consultant, tells here how this affects his ability to do his job as a blind man and discusses other aspects that affect the student body as well. 

For information to learn about ways to help you live more independently click here.

Digital education shouldn’t bypass disabled
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A Heart Story: A Second Set of Eyes

Dairy-queen-good-deedThere sometimes seems to be a shortage of kindness in the world today—until—we hear about a small act of kindness that fills your heart completely. They are a reminder that not all is lost. They can also be humbling for ourselves and encourage passing it on, or, paying it forward. Give your heart a lift and click on this article and read about a 19 year old who knows the difference in right and wrong and acts on it. 

Dairy Queen worker’s good deed goes viral
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Research Found to Help Your Eyes Stay Young As We Grow Older

Research-eyes-stay-young-as-we-ageGrowing older can be a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people-but it’s inevitable and happens to everyone.  It’s like the saying-the only guarantees in life are death and taxes….. BUT-with advancing technology we can push that black door further away and keep our youthful elements from falling victim to this aging thing.  New research discussed here, gives new hope to those that have genetic variables that may cause vision loss with age. 

For more news and events about eye health and vision loss click here

Researchers use new genetic mapping technique to identify two genes that can cause vision loss in seniors
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SDCB News: October is Home Eye Safety Month

PBA-visionwear-sdbc-newsOctober is a month filled to the brim with activities and awareness. Breast cancer is among the most publicized, but recently joining the ranks is awareness for our eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology –Prevent Blindness America has announced Home Eye Safety Month.  There are many ways to take preventative care regarding our eyes, with protective vision wear being one of the easiest. Read here about topics covered for awareness during the month of October to help carry you through the rest of the year. 

To attend an event for education of eye health or vision loss click here

Prevent Blindness America Alerts Public to October as Home Eye Safety Awareness Month
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Eye Health: Thou Shall and Thou Shall Not

Eye-health-10-commandmentsBeyond our beating heart and our remarkable brain, hearing and seeing are tops of our sensory wants and needs, but are often times the most neglected concerning our health. If you are aware of the little things you can do to help take care of those things you can incorporate them into your daily life and they can become a good habit. Here you will find 10 easy ways to help you take care of your eyesight. It’s as easy as washing your hands! 

For other articles that are loaded with information eye health and vision loss aids click here.

Ten Commandments For Good Eye Health 
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Kindle Fire Tablets Get An Accessibility Upgrade
kindle fire hdx
Amazon’s Kindle tablets, e-readers and apps have been criticized in the past for a lack of accessibility for users with blindness or low vision – particularly, Kindle has lagged behind in built-in accessibility features in its own devices and the ability of Kindle apps to take advantage of the accessibility features of other devices like iPads. Last May, the Kindle app for iOS finally got an upgrade that allowed it to use iOS features like VoiceOver. And now, at last, Amazon is finally turning some serious attention to the built-in accessibility of their own tablets and readers after being faced with legal action.
The latest versions of the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HDX have many new features that will make it easier for readers with visual impairments to get the most out of the tablet, including the Voice Guide screen reader and more customizability of fonts and colors. While some shortcomings remain, this is a pretty good step forward. This post from Media Access Australia takes you through some of the basics and includes helpful demo videos: Demonstrations of Kindle Fire accessibility features
Image: A hand holding up the new Kindle Fire HDX tablet, which displays book and movie titles on its screen (via Amazon)     
Posted in Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
5 Ways Technology Can Help You Read with Low Vision

eyeglasses and bookIf you’re a bibliophile with low vision, you may worry that the enrichment and entertainment of a good book is out of your reach. It can be particularly difficult if your low vision is due to vision loss later in life, as you may be so used to the ease of picking up a traditional book and diving right in that it can be tough to imagine how you can continue without that ability. Luckily, the accessibility of books is growing by leaps and bounds as technology keeps finding new, innovative ways to deliver information. In this blog post from Adventures in Low Vision, you’ll learn five ways you can use technology to keep on reading, from some obvious solutions like using a magnifier to some that you may not have considered (I never knew there were scanners that could read a printed book aloud!): Reading in Low Vision
Image: A pair of folded black plastic glasses resting on an open dictionary
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How to Get Help for Low Vision

Freeway exit sign pointing toward the futureVision loss can make daily activities more difficult and has even been linked to depression in adults; that’s why the importance of getting help for deteriorating vision can’t be overstated. Luckily, there are many things you can do to maximize your remaining vision and to adapt your environment so that you can live independently. Possibly the most important step you can take is contacting a low vision rehabilitation specialist who can teach you techniques for continuing your work and hobbies, as well as recommend low vision aids that work for your unique situation. To find out more about what kinds of help are available, check out this article: Low Vision Aids and Low Vision Rehabilitation

And if you’re in San Diego and looking for help with low vision, find out more about our counseling and rehabilitation services here, and contact us when you’re ready to take the first step toward (re)gaining your independence.

Image: A freeway sign bearing the words “Future – Next Exit”
Posted in Emotional Adjustment to Vision Loss, First Steps After Vision Loss, Living Independently, Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
How to Help Someone with a Visual Impairment

We’ve blogged before about using a human guide when you are blind or have low vision, but what about the view from the other side? If you are sighted and wish to offer assistance to someone who has a visual impairment, what are the guidelines?
Luckily, there’s really only one important rule, and it’s very simple: Ask! That’s right, all you have to remember is to ask the person if they need any help and, if so, what they would like you to do. It can be tempting to just jump in and do whatever you think might be helpful, but don't do this. Imagine if somebody began reading things aloud to you or grabbed you and propelled you to your destination without asking: you might feel annoyed, patronized or even frightened. The same goes for people who are blind.
So that's the main thing, but there are some more advanced guidelines, such as the best techniques for physically guiding someone or for offering verbal directions. If you’d like to learn more, check out this great article from BrailleWorks: 10 Common Courtesies To Offer People Who Are Blind
Or, to see some of these techniques in action, watch this great video from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT: ‪How to help someone with vision loss

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Blindness, Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Blind and Low Vision Aids: Going Into the Next Phase of Your Life-Tips to Help You Get Prepped For College

Living-blind-resources-for-collegeWhen it’s time to leave the nest of home, making a list of all the things you need just to survive without mom and/or dad nearby can cause some anxious feelings. Going through a similar checklist to prep for college seems insurmountable even in the best of circumstances. Add to that a disability that is vision loss and you may want to give up before you even start. Fortunately, on this blog you can find a list of resources available to help with all of your extra needs. From alternate format material to recreational activities, it’s in here. Click through to start your list and get ahead of the game.  

For other valuable links to resources click here.

Living Blind, Attending College
Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Blindness | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Assistive Technology Devices: Bringing Darkness to the Light in Your Eye

Assistive-technology-beyond-deep-space-to-inner-eyeTo quote the loveable character Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!”, it seems that we’re getting to the beyond.  Technology is beyond amazing each passing year and the crossover applications seem to be never-ending, but most of all, surprising. Researchers that look into the darkest corners of space have reached new corners of darkness—into our eyes. The same imaging, on a smaller scale, that is used to find the smallest sparks of light in space is also used in detecting possible vision loss in the same manner. Early detection is one of the greatest aspects of this – click here to read more about the fantastic aspects and possibilities of this new technology as it relates to vision loss. 

To learn more about assistive technology beyond what you just read about click here.

Space Camera Tech Could Be Used to Detect Blindness Before It Happens
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Watching Out For the Health of Your Eyes

Protecting-your-eye-healthTypically eye health is not something most consider when they thing of general health. We take ourselves to our annual checkup and call it good. Did you know that there are other ways to help protect your eye health? This article gives you eight ways to help you take care in maintaining your eye health. There are exercises that you probably already do that have overlapping effects for your eyes as well, walking being one of them.  Find out what else you can do or are doing that can help! 

Eight Ways to Protect Your Eyesight
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Sensory Awareness Training: Feeling Is More Than Just Feeling

Advocating-blind-book-awarenessMost of us are usually busy running our lives and often take for granted the small things that make it easier for us to stay on the go.  When you are without one of your major senses, it really throws a wrench in the way you function. We can all relate to how awful it is when we are sick and can’t smell which also affects our taste buds. Imagine how it would be to not have your vision. In this blog, the mom shares ways she has used to teach her son that people have all kinds of differences and blindness is one of them. She uses a braille book to demonstrate this to him to bring the connection closer to his understanding of having no vision. 

To learn more about programs for you or someone you know that may need help in adjusting to vision loss, click here.

Health Awareness: Blindness
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Assistive Technology Devices for the Blind: Step by Step and Soul to Sole

Living-independently-talking-shoesMany strides have been made over the years to help visually impaired persons to live as independently as possible.  This has come in many forms, with technology leading the way presently.  So many of us would literally be lost without our handy little cell phones.  They often contain our whole world inside them, including an app that helps us get from point A to point B. Our GPS’ can be life savers.  Who knew this could be used to help the blind to the same within their shoes?!  Read here, just how this awesome technology has started to help the visually impaired make living independently much more attainable. 

Soul to Sole: Eye Surgeon Anthony Vipin Das has developed shoes that see for the blind
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Vision Loss and Visual Arts

Edgar Degas - Two DancersIt’s easy to think that “blindness” and “visual arts” don’t belong in the same sentence – after all, a painting or photograph is something that requires sight both to make and to consume, right? Wrong! People with blindness or low vision today are active in the arts both professionally and as hobbyists in media like painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, and more. Experiencing art is also becoming more possible every day for people with visual impairment, as new technologies and multi-sensory exhibits make the museum experience more inclusive.
But this isn’t just a product of our technological age – history also has many examples of artists who created masterpieces despite or even because of vision problems. For instance, did you know that Edgar Degas’ vision began to deteriorate due to retinal disease when he was in his thirties and continued to decline throughout his life? Art historians speculate that his choice of subject matter, those famous backstage scenes of the ballet and opera, may have been influenced by the fact that he was sensitive to sunlight and preferred working indoors and in low light conditions. Additionally, many of Degas’ masterworks were painted later in his life, when his vision loss was quite advanced. This means that his unique artistic vision may be at least in part a product of his, well, vision!
For three more famous artists with vision loss plus some great tips and resources for getting and keeping your creative juices flowing with blindness or low vision, check out article from Vision Aware: Continue Painting with Vision Loss
Image: Edgar Degas’ Two Dancers, c. 1898, a work in pastel, which Degas switched to later in life as it required less precision than oil painting
Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Living Independently, Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Tips for Sewing After Vision Loss

bobbin with threadSewing, with all its tiny tools and detail work, is one of those hobbies you might think would become too difficult to continue after vision loss. But, as with so many things, adaptations are possible that can allow you to keep on stitching! Check out these great article for some tools, tips and techniques that will have you getting your craft (back) on with ease:
Image: A steel bobbin with pale blue thread
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Tandem Bike Stolen from SDCB Fundraisers

Awful news for two members of one of our partner organizations, the San Diego Blind Stokers’ Club: Harry and Nicole DeRochement have had their tandem bicycle stolen from their La Mesa home. Nicole, who is blind and participated in the BSC’s Cycling for Sight fundraiser to benefit SDCB this year, and Harry were given the bike as a gift and have been using it to train for upcoming fundraising rides. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of the bike, you can call La Mesa Police at (619) 667-1400. The couple stressed that they just want the bike returned and that, should the thief have a change of heart and bring it back, no questions will be asked. For more, check out this video on the theft from CBS 8: Thief steals blind woman's fundraising dream

Members of the Blind Stoker's Club have also set up a fundraising page where you can donate to help get Nicole and Harry a new tandem bike.
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10 Essential iOS Apps for People with Visual Impairment
screenshot of accessible keyboard appThere are lots of iPhone and iPad apps out there to help people with blindness or low vision work, play and get around. This being the internet, there are also lots of lists of those accessible apps floating around. If you’re new to iOS or just overwhelmed by all the possibilities, we like this short but great list from Mac Life to help get you started. It covers 10 of the best, representing everything from essential functions like object identification and a keyboard that works with VoiceOver, to great options for downtime like audio and text games and the best audiobook app out there. Top it all off with an accessible app that finds you other accessible apps, and you’re all set! Read: 10 Apps for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Image: Screenshot of Fleksy, the iOS keyboard app with VoiceOver integration
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3 Lessons to Get Up to Speed with Braille

reading brailleDespite being a reading and writing system with a long and proven history, braille is no longer the go-to communication choice for most people with blindness or visual impairment. It’s estimated that only 10% of blind people know braille, and the system is no longer commonly taught to blind students. This may be due in part to the advent of assistive technology that can read print for people: a common myth is that braille is just not as fast or efficient as a screen reader or other device.

The truth, however, is that braille users can achieve reading speeds as fast as or in some cases even faster than those of print readers; it’s really just a matter of learning the right methods and practice, practice, practice. In this three part series, “How to Learn Braille in Six Months”, Jerry Whittle of the Louisiana Center for the Blind dispels some of those common myths and takes you through the techniques, habits and recommended manuals that will get you up to speed in no time!
Image: A close-up of a finger scanning a line in a braille document (via Wikipedia)
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3 Reddit AMAs from Awesome People Who Are Blind

Tommy Edison Reddit IAmA proof pic
An AMA, short for “Ask Me Anything”, is a type of post on Reddit where celebrities and ordinary people alike open themselves up to questions from the site’s users. Ranging from funny to informative and everywhere in between, these posts are a great way to get insight into unique events and experiences. Here are three excellent ones from people who are blind:
  • Tommy Edison – also known as The Blind Film Critic, Tommy’s one of our favorite vloggers (check out one of our favorite videos from Tommy here). In his AMA, Tommy answered questions about movies, music and what it’s like to have been blind since birth, all with his usual great sense of humor.

  • Christine Ha – the winner of Fox’s Master Chef Season 3 and a blogger at The Blind Cook, Christine dishes about cooking, sight loss, and reality TV in her AMA.

  • A cook who lost her eyesight 5 years ago – for another perspective on cooking after vision loss, check out this AMA by a home cook (with the help of her son) for some droolworthy food talk and tips on making your way around the kitchen without seeing.
Image: Tommy Edison poses for a picture with a handwritten sign that says “Reddit”, one of the ways that AMA subjects typically prove their identity
Posted in Blindness, Living Independently, Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The Birth of Braille
Louis Braille

Did you know that when Louis Braille started studying at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, the school had only fourteen accessible books? These books, which were made by embossing the letters of the alphabet used by sighted people on paper, were large, heavy, difficult to use and didn’t contain much information. Louis, frustrated by these limitations, was motivated to invent Braille at the age of only fifteen! For more on the invention of a writing system that revolutionized learning and communication for people with blindness and visual impairment and that is still in use today, watch this great Discovery Network video: The Braille Story

Image: A screenshot from the video showing a hand reading Braille text with an engraved portrait of Louis Braille, a map of France, and Louis' birthdate, 1809
Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Blindness, Living Independently, Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Accommodating an Aging Workforce

older man workingThe US work force is getting older, for reasons both positive and negative. In these tough economic times, many people may not have the financial security to retire and must continue working. At the same time, advances in medicine are allowing us to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives, and many people don’t want to give up on work they are passionate about and that keeps them active and engaged.
One of the results of this aging workforce is a big positive for employers: better workers! With age comes a wealth of experience, well-established networks of contacts, a greater repertoire of knowledge and skills, and many other benefits. However, with age may also come some health problems, such as reduced physical abilities or age-related vision loss, which may require accommodation.

If you’re an employer looking to adapt your workplace in order to hire or retain experienced older employees, or if you’re an older worker or job seeker who would like to educate yourself on the range of accommodations that are possible, check out this great info from the Job Accommodation Network. You may be surprised to learn that many are simple and cheap or even free! Read: Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees who are Aging
Image: A man with greying hair wearing business casual clothing, writing in a day planner while talking on a cell phone
Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Facility Design for Accessibility, Living Independently, Vision Loss, Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
5 Things to Think About When Using a Human Guide

a man who is blind and a sighted guideWe know that getting used to a new mobility aid such as a white cane, a guide dog, or many forms of assistive technology will involve a lot of training time, but it’s easy to assume that having another person guide you will be much less involved – after all, humans tend to have a better combination of intelligence and judgment than dogs, computers and canes. But in reality, as with any other mobility assistance, having another person physically or verbally guide you likely does not come naturally to you or your guide! In this great post from George Abbott, the Director of eLearning at the American Foundation for the Blind, you’ll learn 5 considerations that can put your human guide at ease and help both of you get to your destination safely: Getting a Grip: Thoughts on Using a Human Guide
Image: A man using a long cane grips the elbow of the woman who is guiding him along a sidewalk in a residential area
Posted in Blindness, Living Independently | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Cane or Guide Dog: Which One Is Right for You?

choicesThere are many mobility aids available to people with blindness or low vision; two of the most popular choices are the iconic white cane and the guide dog. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, and in the end the decision really comes down to personal preference. For instance, you may prefer the feeling of companionship and safety that comes from a guide dog, or you may be allergic to dogs or simply not like them; the white cane similarly has arguments both for and against. And, of course, you may decide that neither works for you and instead seek out alternative assistance! Sarah J. Blake has a great rundown of the pros and cons of each of the classic choices here: Cane or Dog Guide?

Image: Pavement with a white chalk outline of footprints and the many paths they could take
Posted in Living Independently | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
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