Tips & Tools - For Vision-Related Disabilities

Overview

If you are a person who is blind or have a visual impairment, learn tips and find tools to help you complete basic tasks in the workplace and home without vision or with limited vision.

Return to Top

Traveling

White Cane

Learn to use a long white cane and your remaining senses to travel independently without assistance.  When used properly, the white cane gives you the ability and freedom to travel whenever or wherever you wish to go.

Guide Dog

Receive assistance from a service animal, a dog guide specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability. See Tips & Tools – About Service Animals for more information.

Person as a Guide

One way to travel is through the use of a person who can guide you where you want to go:

  • Ask for guided assistance.
  • Hold the arm of the person guiding you just above the elbow.
  • Walk to their side and a half step behind them, so you can follow his or her body motions.
  • Use your white cane to assist you when being guided by someone who is not accustomed to being a guide.
  • Walk at a pace that you are comfortable with. You set the pace.
  • Ask your guide for any verbal assistance if needed, such as if taking stairs, or going through doors or narrow spaces.

Return to Top

Telling Time

Tell the time using:

  • Low-vision watches or clocks with large faces and numbers, if you can read the numbers
  • Talking watches and clocks, which tell you the time when you push a button
  • Tactile watches and clocks, which allow you to tell the time by touch

You can check the time without disturbing the people around you by using a tactile watch. Tactile watches are also beneficial if you have a hearing impairment.

Return to Top

Using the Telephone

Use the telephone by memorizing the order of numbered keys on a standard telephone and:

  • Place a raised dot on the number 5 key on the keypad.
  • Place three fingers on the row that contains the number 5 key.
  • Use the row that contains the number 5 as the “home row” to help you select the correct numbered keys.

This is the order of numbers on a standard keypad:

  • First row includes numbers 1, 2 and 3
  • Second row includes numbers 4, 5 and 6
  • Third row includes numbers 7, 8 and 9
  • Star key is underneath the number 7 key
  • Zero is underneath the number 8 key
  • Pound key is underneath the number 9 key

When selecting a phone, it may be helpful to choose one with large buttons and numbers.

Telephone Directory

If you cannot read a telephone book, contact your local phone company to apply for free directory assistance service.

Return to Top

Reading, Writing & Notetaking

Braille

Read and write using Braille, a touch-based writing method that uses raised dots to represent letters, punctuation and other symbols used in print.  To write in Braille, use a slate and stylus, a Braille writer, or a computer that Brailles with a Braille embosser.

The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers correspondence courses in Braille for beginners and for experienced Braille users, as well as for your families.

Touch Typing

Write with a computer, using touch and memory to type on the keyboard:

  • Memorize the order of numbers, letters and other keys on a standard computer keyboard.
  • Place all eight fingers in a row along the middle of the keyboard, or the “home row.”
  • Move the index finger of each hand to the “home keys,” the letters F and J, which are identified by a raised dot or bar.
  • Use the home row and home keys to help you select the correct keys.

Large Print

Write in large print using a heavy black marker and legal-sized or bold-lined paper.

Tape Recorder

Take notes with a tape recorder and play the recording back when needed.

Return to Top

Organizing & Identifying Items

Organize and identify items such as groceries and office supplies by using:

  • The shape of objects to help you tell what they are
  • Braille labels, if you know Braille
  • Large-print labels or colored dots
  • Your own labeling method using rubber bands, puff paint or any other label that works for you

Organize and identify clothing items and colors using:

  • Safety pins to label different colors of clothing 
  • Braille labels, if you know Braille
  • Sock locks, plastic rings that you pull your socks through to ensure they stay matched before washing, drying and reuse

Return to Top

Setting Appliances

Set appliances such as thermostats, ovens and stoves by marking your preferred dial settings using:

  • Silicone caulk, available at most hardware stores
  • Puff paint, available at most craft stores
  • Hi-Marks adaptive aid, a tube of plastic that hardens on application
  • Bump Dots adaptive aid, raised dots of various sizes that are adhesive-backed

Return to Top

Using Money

Identify Coins

Quarters and dimes are the only coins with ridged, rather than smooth, edges.  The quarter is larger than the dime.

Nickels and pennies are the only coins with smooth, rather than ridged, edges. The nickel is larger and heavier than the penny.

Identify Paper Money

Identify denominations of paper money by separating each value into individual compartments, or by folding them differently:

  • Leave $1 bills unfolded
  • Fold $5 bills in half
  • Double fold $10 bills
  • Fold $20 bills lengthwise

Ask your bank teller or cashier to tell you the denomination of paper money as it is handed to you.

Return to Top

Contact Information