How to Optimize Your Light Source: Tips for the Visually Impaired

Have you ever been in a dark, poorly-lit room and then, with the flip of a switch, experienced a dramatic change in the way you perceived your environment? Good lighting impacts both how well we can see and how we feel.  

People who are visually impaired want to optimize their light sources so that they are able to have the best work or recreational experience possible. A few small changes can make a big difference.

Use Adjustable Lighting

Adjustable lighting usually comes with an arm or flexible head that allows you to direct light where you need it. Because daylight or overhead room lighting may not be directed enough to improve your visual perception, directed light is preferred for work that needs precision.

Adjustable lighting can be wall mounted or freestanding on a floor or desk. The key to adjustable lighting is its range of motion, not whether it is a specific type of lamp or fixture.

Light that comes over your shoulder is best for reading. If you are right-handed, position the light over your left shoulder. If you are left-handed, place the light over your right shoulder. This eliminates any shadowing from your hand as you hold the book.

In areas that aren’t wired for lamps or additional switches, stick-on lights can be used. With a quick touch, you can use stick-on lights to illuminate awkward areas of shadow, such as the dark corners of a closet or pantry.

When outside of your home, gain control of the lighting situation by bringing a portable lamp or flashlight. Flashlights can be useful for reading restaurant menus, and portable lamps give you hands-free illumination when playing card games or writing and taking notes.

Some lamps also incorporate a magnifier so that you have lighting and hands-free magnification all in one package. Just make sure that the lighting source you choose is not too bright. When you walk away from your task, you don’t want there to be too big of an adjustment for your eyes. You should still be able to see the room around you.

Reduce Glare

One way to help with the brightness and glare factor is to position your adjustable light source no more than six inches away from your task. If the light is too bright, or glare is reflecting into your eyes, reposition the lamp.

When using a magnifier in conjunction with your lamp, adjust the lamp to shine underneath the magnifier. This will prevent light from shining onto the lens of the magnifier and creating a painful glare.

To test out the potential glare on a book or project, set a small mirror on your workspace to see if any strong light reflects into your area of vision. If so, rearrange the space so that the light is bouncing away from your eyes. You don’t want your eyes to become injured or fatigued.

A dimmer switch is a great addition to reading lamps. Paper types differ, and you may need more light for a matte card stock than you do for a glossy photography book. A dimmer switch will allow you to adjust the intensity of lighting for different surface textures quickly.

Consider the Bulb Type

LED lights are energy efficient and generally cool to the touch. They cost more than the old incandescents but last a really long time. And less heat emission means that they aren’t adding extra heat to your house in the summer. Bonus! You will save on your air conditioning bill.

There are different measurements used to describe LED lights.

  • Kelvin is a measure of the color “temperature.” 6,000K is closer to daylight color. 3,000K is closer to the old incandescent light colors.
  • Lumens is a measure of brightness. Lux is a measure of density, or how bright the light is at a specific distance from the light source.

Recessed lights can be improved by using flood or spot bulbs. Flood bulbs offer good ambient lighting and spot bulbs are good for illuminating work areas, such as craft tables or kitchen counters.

Track lighting can provide a narrower beam than recessed lights, and they also use less energy. However, both track lighting and spot bulbs use halogen lights. Halogen lights are hot, and may not be allowed in certain settings, such as assisted living facilities.

Optimizing your lighting source when visually impaired is an important task to prioritize. Making small tweaks like these can make all the difference in how you see and feel in your work and home environments.

Looking for better illumination? Check out ILA’s selection of lamps and lighting for floor lamps, task lamps, bulbs, and more.

Make Your Super Bowl Party More Inclusive For The Visually Impaired: Three Easy Ideas

The Super Bowl is often the most-watched television program of the year. That means over a million visually impaired Americans may be tuning in. So don’t be surprised to find that your legally blind friend has plans to “watch the game.” Feel free to invite them over to join you and your buddies for the event. These easy ideas will help you keep the space and the party atmosphere accessible.

Be Mindful of Environmental Obstacles

Before your friends come over, clean up. And I don’t just mean scrub the toilets. (Though that’s a good idea, too.) Focus on clearing environmental obstacles from your guests’ path.

If people take off their shoes in your home, make a space for them away from the door. Look for rugs that may have turned up corners or electronics that have hazardous placed cords. See if there is a clear path to all of the things you would expect your guest to access, such as the bathroom, seating, and food.

If you have pets that jump up or get underfoot, you should probably put them in a different room until everyone is gone, especially if there’s an added possibility that they might try to swipe the snacks.

Describe The Food Before Everyone Digs In

To help your visually impaired friend feel comfortable at the buffet, give a little overview of the food before everyone starts helping themselves.

Describe both the location and ingredients of the food. Most people will appreciate this. No one wants to play a guessing game with what they put on their plate. You can say, “The hot wings are on the first plate to the left, and the mild wings are behind them.” Some people also have food allergies or dietary restrictions, so announcing ingredients up-front can break the ice for them to inquire about the specifics.

Using high contrast or bold colored plates can also help those with limited vision see a delineation between dishes. You can even go as far as making the visual cues match the culinary theme. In the case of the hot wings, maybe the extra spicy should go on a red plate while the mild go on a cooler-color serving dish.

Narrate More Than Just The Game

The Super Bowl should provide a pretty good play-by-play, thanks to their professional sports commentators. But the game isn’t the only reason your visually impaired friend came to your party. Socialization is the majority of the fun.

While you don’t need to go overboard in your descriptions, do consider saying things out loud more than you usually would. For example, if everyone is captivated by a friend’s new phone, don’t just ooh and ahh with no clear verbal explanation.  Make sure you state what you are all looking at. “Wow, Mike, your new iPhone looks really sleek,” is a lot more descriptive than, “Ooh. Cool.”

And don’t forget to make introductions among those who don’t know each other. Having the guests all say hello will give your friend a chance to hear everyone’s voice and pair it with a name.

It’s not hard to make your Super Bowl party enjoyable for everyone. The big game day is not really about what we see on the television screen, but what we experience with our friends and family.

Afraid the party will be so hoppin’ that it will be hard to hear the game? Check out ILA’s TV SoundBox Wireless Speaker. Keep it close to your chair or take it with you anywhere in the home. Or if folks are making so much noise chatting that you still can’t hear the game, plug a pair of your own headphones into the SoundBox, and listen in peace. When you rely on your ears, it helps ensure you won’t miss a thing.

 

Traveling With Medical Supplies: Lighten the Load with These Hacks

Having a lot of medical equipment or supplies to haul around can put a damper on your desire to go on adventures outside of your home. The lugging, packing, unpacking, and setup may make you feel that it’s too much trouble to just get out of the door.

I’ll be honest. It takes our family almost a full day just to pack for a trip. Out of the six of us, half need specialized equipment or medications. We have a list, and we’re checking it twice. But over the years we’ve streamlined some of the processes. Here are some things we’ve learned.

Medications

Go ahead and sort your medications for the duration of the trip. When you are busy traveling and out of routine, it is much easier to forget if you’ve taken your daily meds. There are many types of pill organizers. Most hold a week’s worth of pills and have slots for AM and PM. But you can also find ones that have up to four slots a day, or that sort up to a month’s worth of pills at a time.

For medications that you take “as needed” you may want to find smaller containers to store a few doses in rather than bringing entire bottles. I’ve even used a (new) contact container as a pill box to carry a seldom-used medication. And sometimes over-the-counter meds can be purchased in smaller, travel-sized bottles.

Our family puts together a “medicine bag” where we keep all of our medications together. It’s the size of a toiletries bag, and it has handles on the top, which make it easy to grab. When we pack the car for a road trip, we make sure this bag is always accessible. That means it’s up front with the passengers or it’s on top of the pile in the back. We do this to avoid situations where we have to unpack half the car to get to a needed medication when our travel plans have us on the road later than expected.

Supplies

When packing supplies, we count out enough for the number of days we are going to be gone and then add one or two more days’ worth. If weather or other circumstances delay your return, you don’t want to be caught short.

One thing that can be helpful when organizing these supplies is making them into daily packs. Gallon sized Ziplock bags are perfect for this. For example, if you use intermittent catheter supplies, instead of throwing a week’s worth of catheters, cath packs, and continence supplies into a box or bag, sort out what you need for each day and place those supplies into a single Ziplock bag. Label the bags with the days of the week. Then, each day you can pull out the bag you need, rather than hunting around and counting out supplies each day. (Or each trip to the bathroom.) The same thing applies to wound care supplies, feeding supplies, or anything you use on a daily basis. We even pack our service dog’s food in single-serving sized sandwich bags!

Medical Equipment

Where to put the wheelchairs, walkers, grab bars, and toileting systems?  All this equipment may make you feel like you need to rent a U-Haul trailer to pull on the back of your vehicle. Our family owns a 12 passenger Sprinter van. When we go on big trips, we remove the back row to have more space. But that’s probably not necessary for smaller families. One of the best ways to get around the equipment issue is to buy lighter, portable items that can be used when you’re on the go.

Bathroom supplies seem to take up the most space. Instead of bringing your full, rigid, toileting system, try using a device like the Foldeasy Toilet Support. Pairing it with a lightweight Plastic Toilet Seat Riser helps you simulate the support you would find in an integrated system while breaking down for storage in only a fraction of the space.

Worried about adequate stability in the bathrooms you’re visiting? Pick up a few Easy Install Bath Safety Grip Handles. They’re cheap, strong, and apply easily to most surfaces. It’s possible your hotel may be out of accessible rooms, or your daughter’s home may not be equipped in the same manner as yours. Bringing your own support eliminates worry.

ILA wants you to travel with independence and confidence. Check out the links above for hygiene helpers that are designed for travel. Visit vacation destinations and get out of the cold!

Plan Your Year: The Most Effective Ways To Use Your Calendar

It’s a new year, and you have a new calendar. The sight of all those blank white squares is inspiring. This year, you are going to organize your time and be the master of your schedule.

But exactly how do you go about doing that? What’s the best way to record events and appointments to help you take it all in at a glance? Is there a way to keep your time more balanced, blocking off more time for the people and activities you love?

There are ineffective ways to use your calendar. (Scribbling in information willy-nilly.) And those methods won’t do much to help you gain control of your new year. So let’s check out some of the most effective ways to use those crisp, promising pages.

Color Coding

If one of your biggest concerns is achieving more balance in your life, color coding is a way to give you a quick visual of where your time is being spent. You can do this by using different color pens or highlighting over your writing.

First, you need to decide what categories you want to see. An example of that may be work, recreation, volunteering, family time. Choose a different color to represent each group. Then, when you enter an appointment or activity write it or highlight it in the category color it belongs in.

Now a quick glance at your calendar can show you if there is an area you are neglecting. Is your schedule full of one color but contains little of another? Maybe it’s time to re-think where your time is going.  

Use More Than One Calendar

Sometimes it’s hard to follow our calendars when they contain too much information. Doctor’s appointments get sandwiched between daily routines and children’s sports practices. You, your kids, spouse, or caregiver struggle to find the information they need. In this case, you may need to have more than one calendar. And there are two ways you can choose to set that up.

One way to use multiple calendars is to have one calendar that lists your daily routine and another calendar that shows doctor’s appointments, work meetings, or sports practices. This is especially helpful if you want to track your hourly routine each day, but you also want to be able to see special appointments at a glance. A quick look at your appointment calendar will show you have to go to the eye doctor at 3:00 while your daily routine calendar can stay open all day as you follow your schedule.

Another way to use multiple calendars is to have one calendar for work (or activities that pertain only to you) and one calendar for personal or family events. This is an effective way to use your calendar when you have other people, like children or a spouse, who need to be able to find the appointments that are relevant to them.

Throw Out Your To-Do List

This quote from author Srinivas Rao says it all. “Millionaires don’t use to do lists. If something truly matters to you, put it on your calendar. You’ll be amazed at how much the likelihood of getting it done increases.”

Do you want to read a few chapters in that new book? Remember to replace your lightbulb in the bathroom? Call your mother? Put it on your calendar.

To-do lists often get ignored. They have no concrete deadline. If you are serious about accomplishing more of the little tasks in your life, make an appointment with them and put it out on your calendar. If you have a daily routines calendar, you can intentionally save blocks of time for things like “reading,” “home repairs,” or “phone calls.” That way, no matter what specific thing you need to on a given week, you have a generic slot to pencil it in.

Are you inspired to use your calendar more effectively this year? Get a jumbo print planner or wall calendar from ILA and start your path to organization today.

 

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash