You may remember my "Low Vision Products for the Home" series I did previously, now I'm going to do one for those with hearing loss.
I do admit that this series is going to be much shorter as Deaf & HoH people don't need as many adaptations as those with vision loss, so I will also focus on various issues that the general public may be unaware of.
Areas I'll cover:
* In the Home
* While Driving
* On the Job
* Hearing & Listening (for deaf and hard of hearing who do depend on aural assistance)
If anyone has any topic they want to see covered, please let me know!
For many people when they hear the word "Deafblind" they automatically picture Helen Keller - completely deaf and completely blind.
I'll let you in on a BIG fact - it's a SPECTRUM y'all!
What is a Spectrum?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Spectrum as:
"Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points."
The Deafblind Spectrum
In the case of Deafblindness, the two opposite points are:
Completely Deaf (no sound registers) --- Hard of Hearing (mild hearing loss)
Completely Blind (no light registers) --- mild vision loss
So,, if you meet someone who labels themselves as Deafblind (like me) it could mean a whole world of things....
Keep in mind there are spectrum ranges within Deafness and Blindness alone too.
It's all individual too, 2 people with the same hearing or vision loss will be able to use it in different ways. For example, 2 people both have the same level of severe hearing loss - one can still comprehend speech with hearing aids or a C.I. while the other can barely identify sounds.
What causes Deafblindness?
There's a wide variety of causes of Deafblindness, either caused at birth or during some time in their life.
Some simple causes are:
Why is Deafblindness Different?
You may now see it as "Deaf + Blind" when in reality it is "Deaf x Blind".
Here's what I mean:
Now think about it...how much of the environment around us everyday is solely tactile? Not much eh?
People who can see and hear often take for granted the information that those senses provide. Events such as the approach of another person, an upcoming meal, the decision to go out, a change in routine are all signaled by sights and sounds that allow a person to prepare for them. A deafblind person will miss these cues because of limited sight and/or hearing and either need someone or technology to compensate.
Now, now..... don't start the pity party!
Many people with deafblindness can and do lead fulfilling lives with relationships, jobs, families, hobbies, adventures and everything else! Sure we need a few adaptations but Pffft!
I've listed some successful Deafblind people in a previous post, but here are some Deafblind folks leading ordinary lives:
This is in BSL (British Sign Language) but you can see the various communication styles and activities.
Now you have a small example about Deafblindness. We can and do everything we'd like to do and find ways to do it.
Some of us talk, some don't.
Some get around fine, others prefer a sighted guide, white cane, or guide dog.
Some know sign and use it exclusively, some don't sign at all.
Some have a positive outlook on life, some don't and want pity and attention.
We. Are. Just. Like. Everyone. Else.
We just do things a bit diffferently, or take longer to do. That's all.
Take me for example, I'm a mom of a teenager and a college student (oh Lordy), I work from home as a freelance writer and ASL tutor, I travel, I watch movies, I listen to music (all the time). The only things I "don't" do is drive or talk on the phone.
If you want to know more about deafblindness, drop me a comment and I'll be glad to help!
Deafblind Awareness week is almost over and I hope you're learning new things about the Deafblind community. If you want to read more, check out the #DeafblindAwarenessWeek hashtag on social media.
Now if you have been following my website or know me - you'll know I'm always expressing that Deafblind people can be independent and live fulfilling lives on their own.
But, there are still barriers to our independence and I'll list a few:
Lack of Support Service Providers
Support Service Providers (SSPs) are trained individuals that accompany the Deafblind person and be their eyes and ears to access their environments and make informed decisions. SSPs provide them with visual and environmental information, sighted guide services, and communication accessibility.
Understand that SSPs do not do anything FOR the Deafblind person, for example - in the grocery store, the Deafblind client wants to get apples, the SSP will guide them to the apples, and the client holds up an apple and the SSP describes it (no bruises, spots, etc.) and the client bags it. SSPs are not Interpreters either - they can interpret small verbal exchanges but not for important events such as medical visits, signing a rental lease, and the like - a professional interpreter would need to be hired.
As I said in the title, there is a lack of SSPs available nationwide. A study done in 2006 estimates there are about 1.2 million people that have combined vision and hearing losses. I couldn't find any current data but in 2006 only 28% of states ahd any level of SSP services. I'm sure this number is larger (Oklahoma just passed a SSP funding law), but I doubt it's enough to cover a million Deafblind clients.
Now, SSPs are not exclusive to Deafblind people, they can be used for Senior Citizens who cannot drive anymore due to sight and hearing loss, Blind hearing clients can benefit from SSPs to guide them around unfamiliar places as well as get audio information on their environment.
So, the solution:
Barriers to Health Services
Many Deaflbind have limited access to quality Healthcare for a variety of reasons. This is a very long list so I'm going to bullet point them:
The solution? Provide better sensitivity training throughout the hospital and medical service community. Provide a Medical School course in the various disabilities and their preferred communication and interaction methods. Have more ASL interpreters and tactile interpreters on contract in hospitals. And finally - stop being stuck up jerks. (My personal opinion). Read more in my article.
General Lack of Access Everywhere Really
There's a huge lack of access for Deafblind people in every part and stage of their lives. I believe the number one cause of this is the public's view of Deafblindness.
As soon as a person finds out someone is Deafblind the majority of the time they instantly think of Helen Keller and "total deafness and total blindness" and forget that Deafblindness has a wide and varied range. The other thought that often occurs too is low expectations - they're hellpless and can't do anything for themselves. I once showed up at a doctor's appointment alone and they asked where my caretaker was. Yeah, I wasn't happy with them.
So because of this attitude, many barriers happen:
One sad fact about all this lack of access and socialization for the Deafblind is that it leads to depression and other mental health issues. It's hard staying positive when there is limited contact with the outside world, and when there is interaction - those people are treating you as if you're incapable of anything.
If you suspect a Deafblind person, or anyone with a disability, of having depression or any other mental health issues, please read these helpful articles
More awareness and training is the best solution. But this takes time, effort and monies that are usually not there. But I believe it starts with the Deafblind people themselves - they need training on empowerment, self-reliance, and how to speak for themselves. Only then can we educate one person at a time, or as a group and wake the public up.
Another solution - stop the "hero" mentality and quench the need to rush to someone's aid (and filming it) for your own self satisfaction or gain. People with disabilities are not your pawns, we are people too and deserve (and should demand) respect. If you see them, simply ask "everything alright?" and if they say it's fine - leave it alone. If they do need help, ask how and help with the one request. Do not assume because they had trouble with one thing that they'll need help with everything else.
I saw this post on Facebook the other day that sums this up perfectly:
I hope I gave everyone food for thought and a change in attitudes.
Welcome to the last part of this Series! I thank you for following along!
Miscellaneous Low Vision Products
Here's a few more products that may help you, depending on your degree of loss:
1) It doesn't matter what type or the degree of loss you have, a simple identification white cane will help while you're out in public. Understand these are much lighter and thinner than those that really depend on a white cane for use. These "identification" canes don't necessarily need to be used "full-time" but just alerts people that you have trouble seeing and it can occasionally be used to find a step or curb. I know there will be a struggle with "being seen with a cane" but you need to think of it as a tool and not an "identity". It's a lot simpler (and safer) if that car saw the cane and stopped before you're able to see it out of your limited peripheral vision.
2) Have a personal magnifier on you. Have one around your neck as jewelry, or a wallet sized one to pull out whenever you need to read a menu, a price tag, and other things.
3) Wearing a hat with a brim really helps me with reducing glare while outside and inside bright offices and buildings. You'll rarely see me without my ballcap outside my house.
4) Do protect your vision with sunglasses whenever you're outside. Dark ones don't necessarily help with low vision (and may actually make it worse). There are a variety of colors that help the various types of loss, the best ones people with low vision have found suitable are 4 colors: RED, YELLOW, ORANGE and AMBER (BROWN). These colors help with contrast clarity and items "pop out" clearer. Be sure to get polarized UV protection as well. You'll need to experiment to see which color benefits you the most. These can come in slip-overs (fits over your existing glasses), and clip-ons.
5) For even more freedom to travel alone, download Lazarillo. A specialized GPS for blind and low vision travelers. It will give audio instructions to your designation as well as describe the places around you as you go.
Final Say about Having Low Vision
I just wanted to say a few final things to you with low vision, and to those around you:
* If you just got diagnosed with low vision and you might be feeling a big loss and feeling down - I'm telling you things will be alright and you CAN be independent and continue to enjoy your life! Please seek out Independent Living Skills and Orientation and Mobility Training from your nearest Vision Loss Agency. This will go a long way to regaining your freedom and reduce your fears.
* It will help to join social groups with other people that have the same vision loss as yours. Sharing and support helps with mental and emotional issues and you'll meet new friends and get new "life hack" ideas as well.
* To friends and loved ones of those with vision loss - Number one rule: Do not patronize them AT ALL! It's their eyesight that's lost, not their mental facilities.
* Do let them, (and encourage them), to do things for themselves, no matter how long it takes. Patience goes a long way here.
* Learn how to properly guide the person with low vision. Learn to give verbal clues instead of pointing or saying "over there".
* Lastly, if you need financial help for your low vision loss:
Search for Low Vision Products Yourself
Thank you for reading my series and feel free to comment your own life hacks for low vision or any questions you want to know.
Note: Many adaptations in this series can be found in my eBook.
Disclosure: Some text contains Affiliate links and I may receive compensation from them.
If you missed the other parts of this series, you can start here.
Today let's do the office space and products that will help with computers, reading, and writing.
If you've been following this series, you already can guess what's wrong with the above photo. I see two things:
Personally, I like my office space somewhat dim so I can see my computer screen clearly. I have a small desk lamp for tasks such as reading and writing, but it mainly stays off while I'm working.
Let's talk about low vision products that can help with computer accessibility:
1) Most computers have accessibility settings built in already and are very useful for low vision and don't cost extra. Settings such as:
2) A low vision keyboard may help those unfamiliar with typing. Since I pretty much type without looking at my keyboard, there are a few keys that give me trouble locating. My solution is to use the same puff paint I used on my microwave on some keys. I have it on my DEL key, Arrow keys, and a few others I use frequently.
3) If you only need a little magnification, a computer tip is to hold down the CTL key and press + to make the text bigger on your browser (PC computers).
4) If you prefer to have a screen reader instead there are several options:
With low vision, reading is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish and can easily lead to frustration because of small, blurry print. Don't worry, there are lots of ways to ease that situation:
1) If you use an Kindle e-Reader, many accessibility options are available such as:
2) Switch to Large Print materials. Amazon and other websites has a variety of large print books and other everyday products available such as:
3) As I mentioned in my last post about the bedroom, there's a great product called the PenFriend. This is a handheld reader that will record and read self-adhesive labels that you stick on almost anything in the home. I already mentioned the laundry labels you can attach to your clothes. You can stick these tiny labels onto your prescription bottles, place them in a row on your phone and record important phone numbers, or anywhere else you struggle to read.
4) For viewing pictures, magazines and other material you couldn't get in Large Print you may want to get a CCTV reader. This is a camera and monitor set-up that will magnify text and photos placed on the tray onto the monitor. Many low vision agencies have a variety of different types and sizes for you to try out and you may get them for free or at a discount. There is a smaller, cheaper alternative, but I cannot vouch for it's clarity or magnification possibilities.
Writing is the next frustrating task after reading. Again there are a few alternatives:
1) Use a black sharpie or similar dark marker or pen on either a white or yellow notepad. You can get notepads with bold lines for easier writing.
2) Use writing guides for envelopes, letters, and more. I use a small writing guide for signatures to use to sign receipts especially in dark restaurants.
3) It may help to get a magnified lamp for writing (and reading) at your desk.
And that's it for the Office, Reading and Writing. I hope you're finding these helpful for yourself or a loved one.
The next and last part of this Series is "Miscellaneous" which will be a smorgasbord of various low vision tips that didn't quite fit in other categories.
If you're looking for help in a particular area, please contact me and I'll be glad to help! Have any other low vision tips? Comment them below!
Hey y'all! Welcome to Part Four of this series, please be sure to check out the others if you've missed them.
Today covers the Bedroom:
Let's use the photograph to explain a good bedroom layout:
1) The bedroom is the one room I feel doesn't need to be well lit as it's usually a quiet place and used for sleeping. But tamps and task lighting and a well lit closet would help greatly.
2) The headboard and footboard are contrasting colors from the walls which helps visually, but not so much contrast with the flooring and a light area rug under the bed may help (and your toes will thank you).
3) The doorway to the bathroom is a little lighter color than the wall but could do with going darker instead.
4) Personally I have light colored curtains and I leave them open just a little bit to help my eyes adjust to the light in the mornings. My eyes "adjust" while I'm sleeping and the morning light gets brighter. If I'm in a place with "black out" curtains and no chance to acclimate to the light change, I sometimes end up with watery, sensitive eyes and I'm walking around with sunglasses in the house, Heh.
Now for a list of low vision products that'll help in the bedroom:
1) Clothing - If it's getting hard to see colors clearly (which can occur with some low vision users), you can use a talking color reader, or audio laundry labels to use with PenFriend (I'll explain more about this awesome product in the next segment of the series)
2) Use a clock with large numbers to see clearly from your spot on the bed. If you prefer you can get a simple large button talking clock instead.
3) If you don't have hearing loss, you may opt to listen to audiobooks instead of reading. Here's a little secret - if you or a spouse/partner is a member of AARP, you can get 10% off Kindle e-Readers, 50% off some eBooks & 10% off print and audiobooks!
4) Organization is important in every part of the home, but it really helps in the closet. Use shoe organizers to keep pairs of shoes together, use double hangers to keep matched sets together, and use baskets for the smaller items such as hats, scarves, belts and such.
5) For going to the bathroom at night it may help to have a motion detector night light. But after a while, walking to the bathroom (and other parts of the home) becomes second nature.
Well that's it for the Bedroom series! If you use any other adaptations or tools, please comment below!
Please join me in the next chapter where I explore the Office.
Note: Many adaptations in this series can be found in my eBook.
Disclosure: Some text contains Affiliate links and I may receive compensation from them.