A Guide to Independence for People with a Visual Impairment

People with a visual impairment want to be as independent as possible but may not know exactly which resources are available to them to make their independence a reality. It is important for people with a visual impairment to know there are transportation services, service dogs, kitchen modifications and tools, and other accommodations available to help them live life on their own terms. Our guide to independence for people with a visual impairment offers suggestions and tips for people who want to do as much for themselves as possible.

Transportation Services

If you live in a larger city, there is a good chance that there are taxi services or bus services that can help you get from one place to another. For people who live in smaller cities and towns, these public services may not be available and you may have found yourself relying on friends, neighbors, and family members to drive you to appointments, the grocery store, and other locations. The good news is, Uber and Lyft have made their way into many other parts of the country and offer transportation options to people with a visual impairment.

Simply download the app for the ride-sharing company of your choice, request a pickup or schedule a pickup, and get where you need to be. You can automatically pay drivers with a credit card in your account and rate your driver, which puts you in charge of your transportation and opens a whole new world of possibilities to you when it comes to independently getting around your hometown.

Housekeeping Services

Of course, people with a visual impairment can clean their own homes by starting at one end of the room and working your way through the room until the area is clean. But, if you aren’t sure that your home is as clean as you’d like it to be, or if you would rather spend your time learning how to cook or engaging in a hobby, you should consider hiring a housekeeper. 

When you interview applicants, communicate your needs to her after you have a plan in mind for what you want her to do, when, and how. Share your goals and expectations with the candidates and explain which tasks you want her to do. Check on her qualifications and experience and contact her references to make sure you are hiring a trustworthy, hardworking housekeeper. If you have several appointments over the course of a month, make sure that your housekeeper has a somewhat flexible schedule and can accommodate your schedule.

Guide Dogs

A guide dog is one of the best options for visually impaired people who want to gain more independence. Service dogs can perform tasks that help you each and every day, including guiding you around obstacles, opening doors and drawers, retrieving objects, turning lights on and off, finding doors or access areas at unfamiliar places, and walking slowly to lead you. Of course, guide dogs also provide companionship and love for a person with a visual impairment.

Kitchen Modifications and Tools

Being independent also means being able to cook for yourself. People with low vision and no vision are capable of cooking with proper training and accessible kitchen technology. Various schools for the blind and visually impaired offer kitchen curriculum for visually impaired students and their families. There also are certain techniques to follow if you want to cook and have low or no vision: 

  • Keep sleeves short when working at the stove
  • Wear extended oven mitts to protect your forearms when handling hot pots, pans, and baking sheets
  • Set timers to remind yourself to turn off the stove and other kitchen appliances
  • Use task lighting to direct light to your work areas, especially when cutting food
  • Use vegetable peelers rather than knives when peeling food
  • Use kitchen shears or pizza cutters to cut food instead of knives when possible
  • Store tools and heavy objects such as crock pots and large pans in low cupboards instead of high cabinets
  • Store cleaning supplies in a separate location from food items
  • Use a light-colored cutting board when chopping dark food and a dark-colored cutting board when chopping light food
  • Use measuring tools with large print or tactile markings
  • Store kitchen utensils in the same location each time so you can easily locate them
  • Keep dirty knives behind the faucet while washing dishes to avoid cuts and then wash them separately
  • Use an electronic liquid level indicator
  • Turn off burners and the heat to the oven before you remove food

Learning to cook under the supervision of a friend or teacher is a great first step to becoming independent in the kitchen.

People with low or no vision can live independently with the aid of a few services or training. Take advantage of available transportation services, housekeeping services, a guide dog, and cooking training to take charge of your daily tasks of living.

Image via Pixabay by Foundry

Author: Jackie Waters