016: Resources for People After Losing Their Sight

[Podcast] Resources for People After Losing Their Sight - Episode 16

One question that always comes up when someone loses their sight is “What now?” People want to know where to turn, who to talk to and what they have available to them now that they are a VIP. It is important to let people know that there are many organizations and opportunities for support for those who are going through sight loss. While it would be exhausting to list out every group in one podcast, today we'll take a look at a few categories of resources that individuals and families can tap into to find support for a variety of needs that they will have now that they have lost their sight.

News & Updates

1. Preview of Accessibility Features in Upcoming Apple Software

If you are like me, you are excited about this time of year. Apple recently released information about their new updates to their software lines, including iOS and MacOS. AppleVis, which is a great site providing all kinds of information  about accessibility on Apple products, provides a breakdown of upcoming accessibility features that we can hopefully look forward to in the near future. Make sure to take a look at the link above!

2. Microsoft Improving One Note for Accessibility 

I am an Evernote user myself, but I thought this was important to mention. Microsoft's One Note has gotten an update making it more consistent across devices. Also, they are working to make it function better with screen readers for the visually impaired. Thought I am an Apple user, I love that companies like Microsoft are taking accessibility seriously even down to their apps like One Note.

3. Giant Icons for Your Android Device

As I mentioned, I am an Apple user. But, I know not everyone is. Take for instance my good friend Sam. He has a Youtube channel called The Blind Spot. He has a ton of great videos, including ones on Android. Below you'll find one where he shows you how to make your icons huge. Very helpful for low vision. Make sure to check out his channel for more great stuff!

Resources for the Visually Impaired

If you are like me when I lost my sight, you are probably wondering where you should turn at this point. You don't know where to go, who to talk to or what is even available to you. It can be a scary thing for sure! So, I want to take you through few categories of resources that can help give you an idea of what might be out there and where to turn next.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, things will vary in your area. Please make sure to seek out professional, legal and medical advice from trusted people and organizations in your location. Thank you!

Orientation and Mobility

The first category is what we call O and M Training. This stands for orientation and mobility. It is designed to help you get around with greater independence. It can involve using a cane, learning how to ride public transportation, plan out different routes and so forth. I think it is so important to gain this training early on so that you can have confidence in your daily life.

Life Skills Training

This is a natural partner to O and M Training. You might wonder how you are going to get around town, but what about in your own home? How will you cook? What about chores? Depending on level of sight, how will you match your clothes? And, so many other questions that can be asked by you. But, this is where life skills comes in. There are so many ways to amen your life more accessible. There are great organizations who offer these kinds of trainings to give you confidence to live your life as “normal” as possible.

Technology Training

Now that you can get around town and live a quote “normal” life at home, what about the other elephant in the room? By this I mean technology. Each and everyday, we interact with technology. From smartphones and tablets to streaming devices and game systems, technology is such an integral part of life these days. And, at this point in history, so much accessible technology exists to help us VIPs access the world of technology. Many organizations offer tons of training as well as online teachings. (I love technology and talk about it a lot, so make sure to check out my Youtube channel as I cover tech over there!)

Career Training

One question that we have talked about before on the podcast has to do with wondering what we will do for work now that we are sight impaired. While many jobs are not as sight intensive as we think, there are definitely things that might need to accommodations. So not only are there organizations to teach and train you about working, there are organizations to help you find those jobs as well. Search for “Vocational Rehabilitation” in your area to get started. If you want to work, you can. While unemployment can be high for the VIP community, there are opportunities out there for you for sure!

Support Groups

As We've seen, there is a ton of training that you can go through to learn how to do all kinds of things to live your life. But, what about for things like emotional turmoil and mental anguish? No one understands what it is like to lose sight save those who have lost their sight. And, this is where a support group or coach can come in handy. Whether you are the person who lost the sight or the sighted supporter, there are groups out there for you to be a part of. They will help you walk through your journey, offering advice and support along the way. And, if you don't know where to start or feel a little overwhelmed, contact me and let's talk!

Transportation Options

The one thing that nearly everyone says is the hardest part oabout sight loss is the inability to drive. They can no longer hop in the car and go whenever and wherever they want. While noting replaces driving on your own, there are transportation options depending on your location. From buses and subways to taxi cabs and services like Uber, you can actually get around much easier than before. Of course, you can always bum a ride from a friend. I enjoy that one the best!

Social Security Disability

This one is just something I want to mention as some people aren't aware. As a legally blind person, you (typically) have access to receive financial benefits from the government in the form of disability. If you are a parent, you can sometimes receive benefits for your kids as well. This is a topics that is very personal as people have opinions both personally and politically. But, if you are interested, contact your local social security office for more information.

Scratching the Resource Surface

These are just a few things that you have access to now that you are visually impaired. But, there are so many opportunities you have at your finger tips. My advice to you is t become an advocate for yourself and do lots of research. Figure out what is avaialbe in your area and seek them out. Even though things might seem bleak when you first lose your sight, remember, this is just the beginning of your new journey!

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