If you are a person who is blind or have a visual impairment, learn tips and find tools to help complete basic tasks in the workplace and home.
Tips and Tools
At home and work, these tips and tools will help you navigate the space you live in.
Independence in mobility is important. These are the most common ways folks who are blind and visually impaired navigate the space around them.
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 and wherever you wish to go.
Receive assistance from a guide dog specifically trained to guide a person who is blind or visually impaired. See Tips & Tools – About Service Animals for more information.
Note: skills are required in orientation and mobility using a white cane before obtaining a guide dog.
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 by their side and a half step behind them, so you can follow their 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: when taking stairs or going through doors or narrow spaces.
Be on time to meetings and gatherings using these tips.
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.
Whether you use a traditional telephone or a cell phone, memorize the order and orientation of the keys on a standard keypad.
Standard keypad number order:
- 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.
On a traditional telephone:
- Place a raised dot on the number 5 key on the keypad if the key is not already marked tactually.
- 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.
Knowing this keypad order and orientation will help you use other devices, such as: ATM machines.
If you want to find a phone number by dialing for directory assistance, you can call 1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-373-3411). Note that a part of the call will contain an advertisement to offset the cost of looking up a number. For traditional 4-1-1 directory assistance service, Contact your phone provider for availability.
We are surrounded by written words and need to document things in our lives. Use these tips to help navigate the written world.
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 braillewriter, 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.
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.
Write in large print using a heavy black marker and legal-sized or bold-lined paper.
Take notes with a digital recorder and play the recording back when needed.
Life is so much easier when we get organized. These tips will help you navigate spaces you live in and common items you use.
Organize and identify groceries or 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.
Freedom to change the temperature in your home and use your stove to cook make daily life easier. These tips can help.
Settings on Appliances
Set appliances such as thermostats, ovens and stoves by marking your favorite 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 when applied to surfaces.
- Bump Dots adaptive aid. These raised dots of various sizes that can be stuck to your stove or thermostat.
- If you use braille, use braille labels on appliances. For example, the settings on the washing machine or dishwasher.
Money runs our world. These tips will help you navigate coins and paper money.
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.