Many of you know of my vision impairment from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Basically, the only things I see with any clarity are my computer screen and my videomagnifier. These were almost lost to me before recent cataract surgery.
The Optelec videomagnifier (VM) is basically like a TV with a tray underneath for holding printed matter which is magnified on the screen. (The VM is essential for reading cooking directions on food packages.) Windows “Accessibility Wizard” (found under “accessories” in “programs”) allows me to enlarge everything on my comuter screen with white fonts on black backgrounds.
Other aids include a talking clock, a talking calculator, a talking color indicator (“very dark green”) and personal checks with very heavy raised lines.
Remarkably, as vision ebbs, a person can let go of dependence on sight and let the other senses kick in. And, believe it or not, one becomes more observant.
A couple of examples:
When I could no longer see the settings on my clothes dryer, I marked the point where the knob should stop with a black marker. When I could no longer see the mark, I realized if I turn the knob slowly, it automatically stops at that point, something I never realized until it became necessary.
I used to get terribly frustrated “looking” for cooking aids in my kitchen gadget drawer, then I let go of vision and began to feel for the shapes of a spatula or garlic press. So much easier!
I have a keen sense of hearing which helps me locate items which fall to the floor. I can hear an eyelash hit the floor!
This gives a whole new meaning to “coming to your senses.”
Handy little helpers for the visually impaired are white plastic “dots” with adhesive on the back. Placing these on the dark brown knobs on my stove guides me easily to the proper settings.
Equally helpful are clear plastic “bumps.” Placing these over the microwave touchpad numbers I can no longer see allows me to feel the numbers, which are positioned the same as those on a telephone.
Let me give you a test of how observant you are. Check your computer keyboard, your telephone and your stove. You will feel little bumps under your index fingers when you place your fingers on the home keys; you will feel a bump on the “5” on your telephone; and you will feel bumps on the “off” position of your stove knobs. All these wonderful little bumps are there to help the visually impaired or blind, whether typing, using the phone or cooking. Had you noticed them before?
Here’s another test of how observant you are, and this one blew me away! How many times have you tried to use aluminum foil or plastic wrap and had the roll fall out of the box? If you will “feel” the ends of the boxes, you will discover a perforated circle. You will “see” that it says “Press here to lock in end.” Doing this will keep the rolls from falling out. Now, how many of you have ever noticed this? It only took me about 50 years!
My favorite use of bumps and dots is the one I got Chris to place on that pesky “insert” key on my keyboard, which, when accidentally touched, will gobble up your type. Now, all I have to do is feel for the bump instead of looking for the key!
Little things really do mean a lot.