Hang in there! Winter is almost over!
Today's "Welcome Wednesday" is Brian Switzer - Deafblind Athlete.
Brian has been featured in the Alaskan Dispatch News and Runner’s World for his running exploits. He runs with the help of human guides and his running guide dog, Intrigue.
He was on the first team of all blind and visually impaired athletes to successfully complete a Ragnar Relay Ultra. He ran in the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon. He is most known for running in the Equinox Marathon with his human guide, Marco, in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness! It is widely considered to be the fifth toughest marathon in the world.
Brian runs to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome and the abilities of people with disabilities. He also runs to support charities like the Usher Syndrome Coalition.
In April, he will be running in Genoa, Italy with fellow DeafBlind athlete, Alessandro! The adventure will be highlighted on Brian’s Facebook page.
Hi, I'm starting a Series of blog posts for low vision products to use around the home.
The sections will be:
I hope you will join me as I explain each area and the products that can help with low vision - both low tech and high tech.
This series will run throughout the month of March!
Please help me out and let me know what other area would you like to see covered.
As a Deafblind person I've dealt with a lot of negative feedback throughout my life.
I'm sure a lot of people have experienced some at one time or another. Whether from a teacher or a boss, it's sometimes deflating to hear.
Here's a great post on how to deal with Negative feedback that was posted on the American Foundation for the Blind's website.
Have a great week y'all!
While living every day with severe hearing and vision loss, or learning how to cope with your new loss and be self-sufficient in your own home, adapting your living environment to accommodate your daily needs becomes paramount.
Among other rooms in the house that have varying hazard levels, the bathroom stands out as one of the most dangerous home environments for those with vision loss.
The bathroom regularly has slippery floors, handles, walls and other surfaces that a deafblind person might have a difficult time noticing. Moreover, standard bathroom amenities need to be replaced with adequate pieces that will help the deafblind individual stay safe and use the bathroom easily on a daily basis.
Here are the five essential bathroom adaptations for deafblind people.
Clean and Simple
The easiest and most affordable adaptation is regularly making sure your bathroom is clean and clutter-free in order to avoid the risk of slips and falls. One of your worst enemies is clutter, and it can accumulate quite fast if you’re not careful.
The first thing you need to do is to declutter your living environment, including the bathroom, and leave plenty of room for easy and safe maneuvering. Be sure to memorize where your bathroom necessities are and always put them back in their place after use. Remember, organization is key.
Start with the Flooring
When looking to introduce adaptations to your bathroom, you should turn your attention to the floors first. The floor can be the most dangerous part of your bathroom, so you want to make sure you introduce non-slip flooring, as well as non-slip mats in the shower and bath.
Another great way to increase the overall safety of your bathroom is to put non-slip fabrics on the edges of your bathroom amenities as well in order to be able to grab every surface without the fear of it being wet or slippery. Make sure you cover the vanity, and the bathtub.
Choose the right Amenities
Speaking of amenities, they need to be able to accommodate your specific needs. This means that you should choose sturdy and durable white baths that contrast the surrounding design, making them easier to locate and use. Likewise, you want to outline the vanity in a distinctive color in order to avoid slips and falls.
If you have storage space or electric appliances, such as the washing machine, in your bathroom, make sure you highlight all of the important areas in hues you can easily discern. You can even put markers on handles and buttons in order to be able to use your appliances with ease.
Colors and Contrasts
In order to transform your bathroom into a safe, warm, and friendly environment, you will need to use colors and contrasts to your advantage. It’s important to divide your bathroom into sections and give every detail its own distinctive color, or even group several different things under one hue.
This will allow you to use the power of contrasts to your advantage, and navigate your bathroom safely. In order to make contrasts work, you want to make sure the bathroom is adequately illuminated at all times.
Install Safety Features
Finally, if your loss is recent and you're still coping and learning to get around on your own, you may feel safer installing safety fixtures. Be sure to install handrails in the bath, the shower, and around the toilet and the sink. You also want to mount a durable seat in your bathtub in order to minimize the risk of injury.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you might also want to cover the rails and other safety fixtures with easily distinguishable color markers as well in order to avoid missing them by accident.
Living with vision and hearing loss doesn’t have to be an arduous task; in fact, by following these essential tips, you will have no problem transforming your bathroom into a safe, and serene oasis you can enjoy for decades to come.
Catherine is a passionate home design consultant from Melbourne. She loves making homes beautiful and buildings sustainable, but she also like sharing her advice and knowledge with people.
That is why she is also a regular contributor to the Smoothdecorator blog. Besides all this, she loves reading and enjoys a superhero movie from time to time.
Home security is an important issue. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily need it, but it's one of those things you like to have just in case. People think that by buying a quality door with strong locks they will stop intrusions, but the truth is that burglars are smarter than that. Those with disabilities are especially targeted because the burglars see them as weak and unprotected.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) registers 285 million visually impaired people on the global level. There have been many technological solutions to help them with their daily activities and keep them mobile. This so-called assistive technology has been present since the 1960s and was focused on helping with personal care and mobility.
Assistive technology depends on the information collected from the person’s surroundings. Then that data is transmitted to the visually-impaired person through the audio or tactile format and both. This technology has improved over the years with the development of the sensor system, like for the Smart Cane.
When it comes to home security, the visually-impaired require a little bit more finesse, but the basics stay the same as for everyone. If you live with the visually-impaired person or are one, here are some security measures to take into consideration.
Always Lock your Doors
You must always lock your doors, no matter if you’re at home. Burglars always look for the most convenient way to enter someone’s home. In order to make sure that the doors are locked use locks that you can register by touch.
For example, if the lock is vertical that means that the doors are locked. Adding some heavy protection like deadbolts to the front door will also help, and if you leave in the house you should install them on the back entrance too.
Before you open the door, you should always know who you're letting into your home. Camera and microphones connected to the doorbell are very common today in the apartment buildings.
You can connect the feed to your smartphone or tablet and answer the door from any room in the house. Even though you may have problems with visually identifying the person, you will be able to recognize them by their voice.
Use Bright Tape for Home Alarm Systems
Home alarm systems can be tricky. They require a certain reaction time from the moment you entered your home and until you reached them. In order to be effective in the shortest period of time and shut down the alarm, you should make a signalization for yourself.
The bright tape is an ideal tool to leave directions for yourself in order to press the right buttons. If you frame the control panel with the bright tape you will locate it more quickly and enter the appropriate passcode in time.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Burglars are not the only danger that may come your way. Even though we feel the safest in our homes, that safety bubble is not perfect. Accidents happen and the most common ones are created by fire.
It’s hard to predict these accidents and that’s why installing fire and carbon monoxide alarms are the best safety measure you can have. Make sure that you check their functionality regularly since they operate on batteries which need to be changed.
Emergency Panic Buttons
An emergency panic button is designed to give you a quick respond of your home security system if you feel threatened. The button is located next to your bed and the moment you press it the sound alarm will turn on.
Sirens will alert your neighbors and security personnel, sometimes even the police, depending on your alarm system.
Clear your Path
If you need to escape from your home, in case of fire or to run away from the intruder, you have to clear the path beforehand. Remove rugs and carpets from your home which can trip you on your way out or make you slip and fall.
Keep the furniture out of the way and don’t leave clutter by the door. All stairs should have handrails to keep you from falling down and injuring yourself. Cords and wires should be nailed to the wall and out of the pathway. Keeping your home clean and tidy will prevent tripping and injuries.
Motion Sensor Lights
Usually, people use motion sensor lights for the entryways, yards, around the house perimeter and any other critical spot outside the home. Visually impaired people can also use them inside their home.
It’s a useful intruder detection system and you can have it installed only for those purposes. Indoor and outdoor LED lights are inexpensive and effective solution varying in color and brightness.
Wander alarm is a specifically designed device for detection of movement. It’s intended for windows and doorways, but can also be used for pieces of furniture like bed and chairs. It has a wireless motion sensing system with the range of 4.5 meters.
It can release a chime or send a signal to the receiver up to 30 meters away. The system uses two 9V batteries which should be changed regularly for it to be operational.
Secure the Windows
If your windows are old, you will have to replace them in order to secure them better. Even though alarm system will cover all entrances including the windows, you should make sure that all windows are locked. I
f you live on the lower levels, and can’t install the burglar bars, keep your windows closed. If you need additional security, install the sensor lights just above the windows. That way you’ll be alerted if anyone is trying to enter your home.
Use Light Timers
Light timers are a nice trick to create the illusion that you are at home. You can control them over your smartphone or just set the timers when you want lights to turn on. This will certainly make it easier for you if you come home when it’s dark so you wouldn’t trip and fall.
All this may seem complicated for someone who is visually impaired, but it can quickly become a routine for you. The most important thing in a person’s home is the safety and with this advice you will secure your environment.
Today is #WorldBrailleDay where we celebrate Braille Literacy and Learning!
We all know what Braille is....
We've seen it on just about every signage on doors, walls, and a multitude of other places.
While I was surfing Twitter I came across this tweet:
This made me sad, these teachers and counselors forget a major group that's usually dependent on Braille - the Deafblind.
Sure, there are some Deafblind individuals who can rely on their limited hearing for auditory input from audiobooks and screenreaders. Then there are some Deafblind who can read enlarged print (like myself). But that doesn't help those who don't have this capability.
Did you know that many Blind and Deafblind are lagging behind in school and colleges because their textbooks and materials aren't readily available in a Braille format? Thanks to technology like the refreshable braille display this problem is being remedied to a point.
These refreshable braille displays are not cheap - they range from $3,500 to $15,000, depending on the number of characters displayed. Some are complete "notetakers" with computing capabilities, while others plug into a USB port on your computer and acts as a keyboard/screenreader.
Thanks to an organization called iCanConnect - the National Deafblind Equipment Distribution Program - Deafblind individuals can obtain equipment and software to help "connect" with their family, friends and the world around them.
Deborah Kendrick summed up why we need Braille in her article in the Braille Monitor and I agree!
Can y'all help me out and support braille literacy through the Braille Institute?