Halloween Tips for the Visually Impaired

Tomorrow is Halloween. Trick or Treating may look different this year thanks to the coronavirus but everyone can still celebrate the little ghoul in us all. Some places are having trunk or treats, drive thru trick or treating, and even zoom type Halloween costume contests. This blog will look at costume ideas, safety issues, and fun craft ideas for persons with visual impairments to ensure everyone can participate in the fun festivities.

Costume Ideas

No matter what your interests, creative skill, or ability there are costume options available for everyone. Ideas from this section came from Your Cane Can Dress Up for Halloween Too and Incorporating Blindness Canes into Halloween Costumes. If you, or your loved one, uses a wheelchair or are an amputee, Bored Panda offers a compilation of great costume ideas for you as well.

Witch: The basic witch’s outfit can be as simple as wearing all black with a pointed hat. You could also add a cape, striped stockings, a fake nose, and/or makeup. If you have use a cane it can become part of the costume as well. You can use many different materials to create broom bristles, construction paper, straw, or even dried corn husks. Bunch your preferred material around the last joint of your cane and fasten it together with a rubber band and there you have it—the perfect broomstick for the spookiest of witches!

Fairy Prince or Princess: The outfit can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish from wearing something you have on hand to purchasing a frilly pastel color dress or suit. If you would like to utilize your cane you can take a spool of ribbon in your favorite color and carefully wrap the ribbon around your cane, winding it up from the bottom to the top. Fasten each end with sturdy tape and you have just transformed a plain white cane into a magical wand, charming and elegant for any fairy. Attaching flowers, feathers, glitter, or jewels can add an extra polished finish to your wand.

Magician or Ringmaster: Abracadabra! A magician is a fun costume that can make a cane seem like a very long magic wand, and it can also be used as a ringmaster costume for a circus. Your outfit can be as simple as a black pants, white shirt, and a black or red jacket. A top hat and/or bowtie can complete the look.

Favorite Character: If you are dressing up as your favorite superhero or cartoon character a simple idea to add flare to your costume is a cardboard “speech balloon” using a favorite line from that character. Write your character’s most memorable phrase or a silly saying on the cardboard and use tape to attach the speech balloon to your cane. Pose with the speech balloon pointed towards you and you will capture the spirit of your character perfectly! If you have a Braille writing or embossing device in your possession, add Braille to the speech balloon and make your catchphrase accessible!

Safety Tips

For most of us, Halloween is a holiday filled with fantasy, fun and candy.  For children and adults with a disability there can be some unique challenges. The following tips come from 15 Halloween Safety Tips for Kids With Disabilities. Some of these tips are not as important if you will be participating in a drive thru trick or treating where everyone stays inside their respective vehicle. For those still participating in door to door trick or treating these safety tips are especially important.

  • Stay away from costumes that include elaborate masks, eye patches, long-haired wigs, or over-sized hats. They can become unwieldy and may frustrate children. Be prepared to wear them yourself if your child decides to discard it!
  • Grisly boots, princess slippers and any other shoes should fit snugly so they do not fall off in the fog on Halloween night.
  • Ensure all your child’s costume elements are fire resistant. You can do this by checking tags or the costume packaging. (Do not take a match or lighter to it like a mindless mummy would.)
  • If your child is uncomfortable in a traditional costume, let them pick out something they enjoy instead. Maybe they prefer a Halloween themed T-shirt or forgoing a costume altogether. Some children with cognitive differences are uncomfortable with trick-or-treating. That is okay! Let them hand out candy at home, with parental supervision of course.
  • After a night of fun, go through the candy haul and remove anything that looks like it may have been opened or tampered with. For those with food allergies, look for these teal pumpkins! The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement to provide non-food treats, so children with food allergies or other conditions can still fill their bucket.
  • Children with visual disabilities who are not fully blind should use a flashlight to brighten walkways, sidewalks, and staircases. Parents: you can also utilize the flashlight function on your smartphone if you prefer not to lug around a flashlight all night.

A fun alternative to trick-or-treating is a trunk-or-treat, fall festival or local Halloween party! Many community centers, school and churches offer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Your kids can still dress up, haul in the candy loot, but in an environment that is more controlled and often safer than navigating the streets.

Craft Ideas

 Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children of all ages. Luckily, there are many different types of crafts that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of ability or interest level.  Complete instructions can be found by clicking on the craft title. Ideas from this section came from 10 Halloween Craft Ideas for Blind and Visually Impaired Children and 10 Accessible and Sensory-Friendly Halloween Ideas.

Autumn Wreath Project: This is a fun, two-part tactile project for visually impaired children. Collecting the materials outdoors and using them to create a wreath is a fun way for your child to enjoy the scents and textures of fall.

Cotton Ball Ghosts: This is a fun project that can be adapted by using puff paint to draw the outline of a ghost out on construction paper.

Tactile Spider Web: This tactile project uses yarn, Styrofoam, pipe cleaners and pompoms to create a three-dimensional spider web that is fun to touch.

Spooky Sensory Experience: A fun way to get blind children involved in the spooky side of Halloween is by filling food storage containers with creepy objects for your child to feel. The link above provides ideas that are likely better suited for older children. For little ones, consider using funny objects such as slime, pumpkin guts, or faux spider webs.

Textured Pumpkin: This is a simple idea to make a textured drawing by placing mats or other bumpy surfaces under your paper while you color with crayons. If your child cannot see the outline of the pumpkin, you can always raise the lines with puffy paint too!

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Portable Handheld Magnifiers/CCTVs

learning about portable handheld magnifiers, MANOtouch CCTVS

People with low vision have more choices than ever before when it comes to magnification. The more technology changes and advances the harder it might be to choose the right kind of device for your own personal use. This blog will look at a few features offered on portable handheld magnifiers, also known as CCTVs (or closed-circuit televisions). 

Magnification

MEyeSight states that bigger is not always better. A 6x magnifier is not always a better choice than a 3x magnifier. The higher the power, the smaller the area you see.  As a general rule, in order to maintain the largest area of view, choose a magnifier with the least power you can get away with.

Magnifiers are available in three different kind of strengths and some have the capability to transition between all three allowing you to pick and choose the strength depending on the task at hand.

Low Power Magnifiers: The lower the power the larger the diameter can be. For arts and crafts and viewing pictures a round magnifier may be preferred; for reading and writing a rectangular one can save some weight.

Medium Power Magnifiers: As the power increases, the depth of field decreases and the need for accurate focusing increases. This is where stand magnifiers have an advantage, especially for those with a tremor, with arthritis or with other problems that prevent them from holding and moving a magnifier for a prolonged period.

High Power Magnifiers: As the power increases, the field of view decreases. A stand is usually required. Most must be held close to the eye where the field of view is largest.

The MANOtouch 4 Touchscreen CCTV is equipped to go from a low 1X magnification all the way up to a 20X magnification.  It has a brilliant resolution camera with a 3.5″ touchscreen that delivers a superior viewing experience.

Portability and Functionality

Small portable CCTVs, tending to range between 3 to 5 inches in screen size, easily fit into a pocket or purse. Most are extremely lightweight coming in at under a pound.  Available only in the last 10 years, they have also improved steadily. They have the same options as a desktop CCTV, with white-on-black, color, freeze frame, and variable magnification levels. They are less expensive ($300 to $700) than a standard desk-top CCTV.

For people who are active, still working or traveling, portable CCTVs are especially useful. While there are some disadvantages, including small screen size, newer models have found ways to enable a work around. Devices with HDMI ports allow users to easily connect (with a HDMI cord) to larger screens such as monitors or TVs. This enables you to essentially have a desktop enabled device but at a handheld price.

Some devices also have built-in stands making it easier to use higher magnifications without the shakiness that could occur when held in your hand. The stand could also work as a tripod of sorts if you desire to take photos with devices with built-in camera ability.

The MANOtouch 5 Touchscreen CCTV offers everything mentioned in this section. It has a 5” touchscreen, weighs only 9.5 ounces, comes equipped with a built-in camera, and its built-in protective cover also serves as a stand. It also has an HDMI port allowing it to easily connect to larger screens.

Touchscreen Display

Touchscreen displays have opened the world up for on the go technology. No bulky keyboards need to be lugged around and everything can be done from one central screen. Different devices have varying degrees of added built-in additions to this display that might include haptic feedback (vibration) of a key being pressed or audible readback of either the text on the screen or functionality of the button. Most touchscreens tend to be highly customizable to each specific user’s need.

Some products include innovative camera technology which offers LVHD (Low Vision High Definition) technology to produce optimal image processing with flicker-free viewing. It also minimizes reflections from high gloss papers and removes all image distortions.

While many things can be intuitive with previous experience, it is often a good idea to consult with the user’s guide to learn all the different functions available on the touchscreen. You may be pleasantly surprised with everything your device can do.

The ManoTouch 5 Plus Touchscreen CCTV offers innovative touchscreen technology, combined with a fold out handle for optimal usability.  All operating controls are managed through a simple and intuitive touch screen display, with all the controls highly customizable according to a user’s specific needs.

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The Benefits of LED Lamps

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have many advantages over incandescent light sources, including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved physical robustness, smaller size, and faster switching. LEDs are used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting all the way down to medical devices. This blog will look at three types/uses of LED lights to include color changing, floor lamps, and reading lamps.

LED Color and Temperature Color Changing Lights

‘Color’ refers to the color of light that the diode emits – this can be any color of the rainbow. Color temperature refers to the shade of white light emitted. White lights can produce warmer or cooler visual effects, and this is measured in degrees Kelvin.  Color changing LEDs can be used for purely decorative effect, for example by slowly cycling through different colors whereas color temperature changing lights can change the entire feeling of a room.

LEDs can generate up to 16 million colors, but an individual LED cannot change color by itself. Instead, a color-changing LED is made up of three separate LEDs in one casing, with a micro-controller operating them. Each of these diodes emits its own, specific color of red, green, or blue. These colors are used because our eyes see all colors as different combinations of red, green, and blue wavelengths. When all three diodes are switched on at full capacity, white light is produced. Adjusting the intensity of each diode allows a range of different colors and shades to be created.

Changing the temperature color is not quite as simple as that of changing the actual color when it comes to LED lighting. Luckily, manufacturers have come to appreciate this situation and have innovated LED fixtures with changing color temperatures. These fixtures combine two sets of LED chips, cool and warm temperatures, which users can alternate between.

Warm lights (starting at 1,000K) have a relaxing impact, and blue lights (going all the way up to 10,000K) help to keep us alert. Understanding the Kelvin numbers is key to understanding where on the spectrum the light is going to fall. To better understand what these temperature color looks like and where each fall on the Kelvin scale check out this YouTube video.

An example of a light that changes temperature colors this OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp. It offers 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight (3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K.)

For more information on these lights see Hunker or LED Lighting Info.

LED Floor Lamps

As the name suggests, a floor lamp is a tall-standing lighting device that is placed on the floor. They typically range between 4 feet to 6 feet tall based on its functionality. Since the light is elevated, it provides an illusion of vertical space, making it one of the best light decoration ideas for homes.  Finolex provides an in-depth article on some of their many benefits including:

Installation: Unlike other lighting solutions, floor lamps offer the unmatched advantage of no installation. All you need is a cozy corner for aesthetics and an electrical socket for power supply. You can entirely skip the process of reaching out for professional help, cleaning up after and, not to mention, paying for the services. Floor lamps are also much more affordable than a wall-mounted lighting solution installed in your home. Furthermore, they can be installed in literally every room of your home giving you the dual advantage of mobility and elegance.

Versatility: The best aspect of floor lamps is that all you need is a floor! Due to this, floor lights are extremely versatile in nature. Whether you are looking for a permanent reading solution for your study or a temporary lighting solution for an evening with friends in the backyard, they never disappoint. You can also work with colorful LED lighting to change the mood and ambience.

One of the floor lamps that ILA offers this Uno LED Flex Floor Lamp. Lamp stands 52” tall and has a flexible arm which allow for optimal positioning. To see all available floor lamp options please see floor lamps.

LED Reading Lamps

Whether reading a paperback, e-reader, or tablet, it’s important to understand why the right type of lighting is important for your reading environment. Some reading lamps are desk lamps, some are portable, some are floor lamps, and others still are a combination therein. No matter what type of lighting you choose it is important to ensure It is right for you.

The Canadian Association of Optometrists offers two main things to consider when deciding on the right light to read by which are mindfulness of lighting both on/off the page and utilizing task lighting.

Be mindful of the brightness of digital screen vs. your reading environment. As many books are now switching from paperback to digital – including student textbooks – it is important to remember that the lighting of the area you are reading in should be as bright or brighter than your digital device. Therefore, avoid reading in dark rooms. Reading from digital devices in a dark room can cause discomfort, leading to lower concentration and disorientation because your eyes are constantly adjusting between the brightness of a screen and your dimly lit surroundings. Additionally, dark rooms will not provide sufficient lighting if you are reading a paperback book.

Increase task lighting in your home. Task lighting refers to artificial light that increase illuminance for activities, such as reading. Most households are significantly under lit, says Graham Strong from the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry, which can cause your eyes to tire out much quicker. For tasks such as reading, light should be positioned to shine directly onto the page and not over your shoulder to avoid any glare.

If relaxing and unwinding in your living room over a hot cup of coffee and an intriguing book is the best part of your day, opt for a functional floor reading lamp to complement your decor. ILA offers this Cordless LED Reading Lamp. No cord means there are fewer tripping opportunities.

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