Mark Ivy is NewView Oklahoma’s Community Outreach Specialist and Public Policy Advocate. He also lives with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a rare genetic eye disorder. Today on the blog, he’s sharing ten things that make life with blindness a little easier.
1. Ride-share apps
Blind people are often at the mercy of the person who is driving them. This is something I struggle with, because I know what it feels like to drive—as do many people who have lost their vision throughout life. Ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft allow me to schedule a doctor’s appointment that works for my schedule rather than my driver’s schedule. It allows me to pick up some soup and crackers for my sick spouse. It allows blind people to go where they want, when they want.
2. Adjustable lighting
A lot of blind people I meet are sensitive to sunlight and bright indoor lighting. Installing a dimmer for your workplace and home is a game-changer.
3. Stating your name
Blind people always like to know who they are talking to. A lot of my friends have started doing this at night and dark environments, and it’s so helpful to know who I’m speaking with.
4. Talking crosswalks
Nothing’s more terrifying than depending on your ears as you try to cross a street. Nowadays, stoplights have an audible countdown, so you know exactly how long you have before the light turns green.
5. Technology in general
Right about now older men and women who are blind are saying the classic, “Back in my day we didn’t have fancy technology to get around—we had to learn the old-fashioned way!” Let’s just say I’m grateful for the modern technology that’s available.
6. Play-by-play announcers
Listening to a good play-by-play sports announcer on the radio is exhilarating. It’s also the only time the entireaudience is blind, not just those who are physically blind. An announcer’s job is to explain every detail so that people who can’t watch the game with their eyes can watch with their ears. It’s perfect.
7. Guide dogs
I can’t make a top ten list of things blind people appreciate without mentioning dogs. My younger brother got a guide dog five years ago, and it changed his life. A blind man and his guide dog take the saying, “a dog is a man’s best friend,” to a whole new level.
8. Airport escorts
The airport might be the only context where a sighted person feels jealous of a blind person. My first few trips to the airport after losing my vision were awful. Then I found out that the blind and visually impaired can request a sighted guide. The first time I requested one, I was on my way to Washington D.C. My sighted guide showed up promptly, offered me his elbow, and guided me past the long check-in and security lines. He placed all my belongings on the conveyor belt in security and handed me my belongings as I stepped out. The next thing I knew, I was sitting at my gate over an hour early. This is such a great resource for navigating crowded airports when you’re visually impaired.
9. Gas grills
I have always loved to grill. After losing my vision, I started grilling with propane instead of charcoal. Using a gas grill lets you control the temperature much easier than charcoal grills. When you know the exact temperature, you can rely more on cooking time instead of your eyesight.
10. Sleep and rest
Blindness wears you out both mentally and physically. For me specifically, my eyes are extremely overworked throughout the day. I still have ten degrees of vision, which means I rely on those ten degrees heavily. It’s crucial that my eyes get rest each night so I can recharge for the next day.