Resources and Tips for Meeting the Challenges of Blindness
Welcome to the National Federation of the Blind!
The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives they want.
We present this abbreviated list of resources to you in hopes that you will find this information useful in your journey towards overcoming the new challenges you may face. We believe we can live the life we want, and that blindness is not the characteristic that defines us. Please feel free to contact us if we may offer any further assistance.
Kattie Pinkney, President
Decatur Area Chapter
National Federation of the Blind of Georgia
Recommendations for the Journey to Independence
Social Security Benefits – If you have not applied for disability benefits, call your Social Security office at 1-877-626-9909. The process goes more smoothly if you discuss your plan to apply with your eye doctor, who must certify your blindness. Also, it is good to have a list of all medical procedures and medications readily available.
The National Library for the Blind and Print Disabled is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical, perceptual, or reading disability that prevents them from using regular print materials. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS circulates books and magazines in braille or audio formats, that are instantly downloadable to a personal device or delivered by mail free of charge. To get information on this free service, call 1-800-248-6701.
An extensive list of books is available from the NLS Library that will provide you with a wealth of information on blindness and tips on facing your new challenges. Here is a sample:
- Walking Alone and Marching Together, a History of the Blindness Movement
- We Know Who We Are, A History by Ronald J. Ferguson
- If Blindness Comes: by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan
- Freedom for the Blind, the Key is Empowerment: by James Omvig
- Blindness, What it Is, What it Does, and How to Live With It: by Rev. Thomas Carroll
- Blind Ambition, One Woman’s Journey to Greatness Despite Her Blindness: by Ever Lee Hairston
- When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: by Heather Fairbarn
The Hadley Institute has been in the business of providing resources to blind individuals for over 100 years. They currently offer a series on adapting to blindness along with other resources.
3 Ways for You to Learn:
Quick, practical advice from experts.
Recorded audio talk shows.
Listen live and chat with others who share your interests.
**To access this free training, Call 800-323-4238.
iPhone – Many blind or visually impaired individuals like using the iPhone with the Voice Over feature turned on. This feature is a complement to the SIRI voice you may have been using. To turn on voice over for the very first time, you may need sighted assistance. Once setup, you may then command SIRI to turn the voiceover feature on or off. To initially setup voiceover, this can be done by opening settings and navigating to accessibility. Then you can toggle voice over on and off.
iBug Today – is an organization that will assist you with free training on the use of your iPhone. Contact them at www.iBugToday.com. You can also get assistance directly from Apple Accessibility. For questions about assistive technology on your Apple device please call (877) 204-3930 or they can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaws – To use the computer, many blind People prefer the JAWS Screen Reader, which is the screen reader used in many business and professional jobs. It is available from www.freedomscientific.com. The subscription costs are $99 per year. You can download the full version free. It will run for 40 minutes, and you must restart your device when the 40 minutes expire.
**If you have useable vision remaining, you can also purchase a screen magnifier from them. Call 800.444.4443.
NFB-NEWSLINE® is as free service with hundreds of newspapers and magazines. There is blindness information, local and national NFB information, employment notices, Target circular information, and more. You access it via phone, computer or other devices. Contact: Dorothy Griffin, NFB Newsline Coordinator for Georgia. She can be reached concerning signing up for your free service at 404.632.5989.
Georgia Radio Reading Service, or GaRRS for short, is Georgia’s provider of information for individuals who are visually impaired or otherwise print-impaired. Every month, The Georgia Radio Reading Service broadcast and streams hundreds of programs including local and national newspapers, books, magazines, events, employment opportunities, and shopping ads. To access the expansive program library or sign up to listen to the live broadcast, call 404-685-2820/2822 or 1-800-672-6173 or contact via email email@example.com
You may find it challenging to begin using a long white cane to move around. Many people do. Once you are trained in the use of the long white cane, it will become second nature to grab it and get moving. There is a very good book available from the NLS library, Care and Feeding of the Long White Cane written by a longtime white cane user a few years ago named Thomas Bickford. You can get a free white cane from the National Federation of the Blind. www.Nfb.org
Call 410.659.9314 and follow the prompts to the Independence Market. Here is a few cane travel tips from certified instructors at a recent seminar.
The cane is one of the most important blindness tools because it allows you to be mobile, gives you the independence to go where you want to go, when you want to go and is an extension of yourself that allows you to receive information such as steps, curbs, etc.
Cane travel is a blindness skill and a transferable skill that you can use and take anywhere.
Types of Canes are the long white rigid cane, the folding cane and telescopic cane.
The long white cane is the best cane to use as it is the sturdiest and most reliable. The folding cane is very useful as well, but it is not as strong as it has breaks in it and is collapsible. The telescopic cane does not give as much info and feeling of the different textures, or the different surfaces and it is very important to understanding where you are.
Cane length depends on how tall you are, how fast you travel and the type of gait (distance of your steps) that you have. The cane that you choose should come to your chin or your nose. It is best to have a longer cane than a cane that it is too short. It is very important to pick the right cane for your needs.
Cane Arc is using your cane from left to right, shoulder to shoulder. When using the cane, you should concentrate and make sure that you have good cane coverage of your body at all times. Make sure that you do not swing too wide and overstep into others space as this will impede others space which could cause them to trip and fall.
High Arc is not always recommended as you may miss some things that are on the ground.
Some people use a constant contact where they always have their cane on the ground, but this may not give them all the information needed so there are times when you may need to use the high arc or the tapping technique.
There are several different cane grips.
Standard grip – open palm, index finger down, using your thumb to support the cane along with the other fingers.
Pencil grip– best used in a crowd as it lessens the chance of you tripping someone or when traveling a staircase to easily identify steps. Swipe with a 45-degree angle and go down. For this technique, bring your cane in and control with forefinger while resting on your thumb and other fingers.
Shore-lining allows you to follow along to help you locate what you are looking for. For example, you can shoreline a wall to locate the door or a curb to locate the building. Always remember to protect both sides of your body when shore lining.
Cardinal Directions – Understanding and knowing your cardinal directions (North, East, South & West) along with how to use the sun’s location will be very helpful to the individual when traveling. It is important to know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and to be aware of the places of the sun throughout different times of the day.
Always remember to take your cane with you even when you are using sighted guide.
Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency – When you are ready for additional training, you can apply for services from Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. If you are over the age of 55, you may find Project Independence, a program for older blind individuals, to be very helpful in getting used to moving about the home and taking care of your daily needs. The Centers for Independent living, located in several areas of the state are also helpful.
Vocational Rehabilitation 404.631.0060
Project Independence -404.780.6649
Disability Link 404.687.8890
There are several companies from which you can purchase tools and devices to make life easier for you. Before you purchase, you may want to ask people who are blind for their advice. There are a variety of Talking and audio products for labeling, identifying colors, signature/writing guides, reading/scanning, blood glucose meter/ Insulin Meter, blood pressure cuffs, bar code scanners, locator dots, dots for computer keys, kitchen aids, digital recorders and also so much more in cell phone apps. If you have found a support group, ask about devices and apps others are using. We believe the local chapters of the NFB can prove to be your greatest source of support. Ask your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Project Independence Counselor, or Disability Link Counselor for support group contact information.
Here is a partial list of places to buy tools to assist you in your home and work life:
Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) located in Atlanta
Call: 404-602-4358, Website www.cviga.org
The National Federation of the Blind Independence Market
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2216
Independent Living Aids.
LS & S Products
Telephone: 1-800-522-6294 – (To Order)
1-631-752-0521 – (For Information)
Blind Mice Mega Mall Phone 866. 922.8877
A T Guys
Here is a list of some devices we have found useful.
The Pen Friend provides unique labels for you to identify items such as clothes, food, letters, CDs and medicines.
Simply allocate one of the coded self-adhesive labels and record and store your message on the Pen Friend, to instantly playback the recordings, hold the Pen Friend over the label – no computer required.
Available from Independent living aids, blind mice Mega Mall, Maxi Aids, and others. About $150.00
Maxi Aids also markets an audio labeling device similar to the pen friend. It is about $90. The major difference we have found is that the labels are not re-useable on Maxi Aids device, whereas the pen friend labels can be re-recorded.
Free money reader. Ask your NLS librarian for information on how to get this free device to identify your money.
Victor Reader Streaming device – This device has access to internet radio, searching, downloading books from NLS and BARD, access to Newsline and Bookshare. Bookshare is a free site for downloading thousands of books. The device also has a recorder, book storage feature, and the capacity to store music. It is available from Humanware, www.humanware.com. It costs about $425. The phone number for Humanware is 800.722.3393
You may find a digital voice recorder or a Wilson Voice recorder helpful until you learn to make notes and create contacts using the iPhone or other device.
Here is a list of smartphone apps that can be downloaded from the app store:
Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers. for visual assistance through a live session, just give them a call and point your phone to what you want them to read or help you recognize.
Seeing aI – A smart phone app that uses your phone camera to read documents, product labels, bar codes, identify currency, and people. To begin, download the app, select the category of the item you wish to identify by double tapping it on the menu and the phone will identify the item for you when you position the camera to see the object or label.
Bard – Register for BARD and Get BARD Mobile. BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a web-based, password-protected service that provides access to thousands of audio and braille books, magazines, and music scores available from NLS (National Library Service) information on NLS Library Service was listed above.
AIRA is a subscription service that you can call and get assistance in identifying objects. Once you are registered, you can use it for 5 minutes without a fee.
KNFB Reader App for scanning & reading documents
KNFB Reader is a mobile app for blind, low-vision, individuals. Get information from www.nfb.org. It is available for a subscription fee, or available in a short form in your Newsline subscription.
Computers for the Blind (CFTB) is a non-profit organization devoted to providing computers to persons who are blind or visually impaired, at a low cost.
Visit: https://www.computersfortheblind.org or call 214-340-6328
Audio described movies have audio descriptions at strategic places in the movie so that you can follow along if you have little or no eyesight. Netflix has a
number of Movies and documentaries that are described. You can call your cable provider and they can walk you through how to turn on audio description. Amazon also has described movies. When you register for a membership in Blind Mice Mega Mall, you get access to their described movie vault.
If you have been using the hunt and peck method of typing, learn the qwerty keyboard if you are going back in the workplace. Even if you plan to input data on the phone, you will need to know where the keys are in relation to each other.
Memorize the traditional numeric and alpha telephone keypad. You will use this keypad on devices like the Victor Reader. Also, pay attention to the number 5 on the keypad. It is your reference point for learning to dial with little or no eyesight.
When you go outside your home to take out the trash or get your mail, place a portable radio or your NLS player with a book playing just outside the entrance. You will be able to find the door if you get disoriented.
Many websites now have accessible options for enlarging type size and changing colors to make the site easier for low vision individuals to read. If your favorite website is not user friendly in this regard, join the NFB in advocating for accessible options by visiting www.nfb.org.
We hope you find this information helpful and if you need assistance locating other resources to get you started, please call us and we will do our best to assist you.
Special thanks to Joann Johnson, President, Gwinnett Family Chapter of the National Federation of the blind of Georgia for her permission to use information from her compilation of accessible Aids and Resources.
The purpose of the Decatur Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia shall be to advance the general welfare of the blind of the Decatur area, of the state of Georgia, and of the nation; to function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind; to serve as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the Decatur area; to operate as a mechanism through which the blind and interested public can come together to plan and carry out programs to improve the quality of life of the blind; to provide a means of collective action for parents of blind children; to forward the interests of blind students and provide them with a means of joint action and expression; to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality, and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind.
With love, hope and determination, we build the National Federation of the Blind.