July 4th, Independence Day, for many is the “true” beginning of summer. Schools are out, beaches are booming, and people are generally more out and about enjoying parties and the outdoors. Regardless of your ability levels there are a myriad of things to enjoy during the summer months. If you or a loved one lives with any sort of visual impairments here are a few ideas to jumpstart your summer to a great start. The best part is that most of these options are available to enjoy year-round too!
Connect with Your Local Lions Club
One of the main missions for the Lions Club is to assist those persons with visual impairments. There are many ways in which they accomplish this, and some things will differ based on each individual club and what they can do. Traditionally, Lions have helped members in their communities obtain eye exams, glasses, and access to white canes. Other ways that some clubs have helped is by providing VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) bingo nights, state hosted events such as summer camps or fishing. The only way to know what is available in your area is by contacting your local club and asking. You can find your local club through this link.
Take a Walking Tour with the Help of Be My Eyes App
Whether you are native to your neighborhood or just moved in chances are there are many locations (both new and old) that you have yet to explore. Check online to see if any sort of walking or online tour already exists, contact your local parks and recs department, or create your own journey. Grab a real or virtual friend to help you see the world around you. Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call. Depending on your weather preference this option can be enjoyed year around.
Try New Foods
Trying new foods can be fun and exciting. Their touch, texture, and taste are just as important, if not more so, than their visual appearance. Have you ever tried raw oysters, escargot or frog’s legs? Maybe you have never had something as simple as sushi. Think of all the things you have yet to taste then go out and try something new. Not sure what to try first? Check out the Weird Food Bucket List: 60 Strange Foods From Around the World or The Food List Challenge’s 100 Foods to Try Before You Die.
Go to a Farmers Marker, Farm or Produce Stand
A farmers market can be a wonderful hands on experience to touch and sample a variety of vegetables and fruits you may not otherwise have a chance to taste. Some locations even give out free samples so do not be afraid to ask. Depending on which option (market, farm, or produce stand) you may also be given the opportunity to pick your own food. This is especially true when it comes to strawberries, but some areas allow for other produce to be self-picked as well. This option is most prevalent during the summer months but often operate on a reduced day/hour schedule throughout the year as well. The USDA Local Food Directories: National Farmers Market Directory can help you find locations where 2 or more farm vendors are set up to sell produce.
Planting something, whether an indoor herb garden or a tree, bush, or flower bed, is an excellent hands-on experience that allows the gardener to engage all of their senses into the task. It can also develop into a lifelong hobby or interest. Advanced gardeners can even join area clubs and become certified as a Master Gardener. Not sure what to plant or when? Check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac and input your zip code to find out.
Go to an Outdoor Summer Concert
Many towns across the nation will host free outdoor summer concert series starting around July. Simply go to your area’s website or Facebook page to enquire. These events are usually held in the heart of the town and will have vendors and/or food trucks set up to enjoy a light fare while you partake of the music.
Attend a Book Reading or Be Part of a Book Club
Reading, whether it be braille, large print, normal print, or an audio book can be a fun and immersive experience. It allows you to leave your normal world and dive headfirst into that of another. Both book clubs and book readings can be a fun way to combine this pastime in a more social environment. Sharing your love for the story, authors, or sharing common gripes about plot holes or things that you wish would have been written differently are all great ways to engage with your community. Signup for emails from your local library or join online book clubs to stay in the loop. Not sure where your local library is located? Both the WorldCat and the Libraries and Archives page put out by the US Government are great ways to locate your local library. If you are also looking for items in large print and braille that your local library may not have the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled is also a good choice.