Category: Blog (page 1 of 2)

Participating in an Accessibility Walk

I’m writing this Blog for two reasons.  First, some folks said I should share when I do interesting stuff.  Hopefully you think that is what this is. The better reason is that you may want to seek such an event where you live.

Our county health department person in charge of their active living program created this event to which I and others were invited to participate.   

The purpose was to expose city and county officials to the everyday, real-world experiences that people with various physical and mental different challenges as they negotiate our downtown streets and sidewalks.

It turned out that I was the only blind or low-vision person invited.  There were 2 people with physical disabilities using their own equipment–one a manual wheelchair and the other a power wheelchair.  I wished folks dealing with other challenges like hearing loss or who walked with difficulty could have been there too.

There was a bicycle/pedestrian advocate, one person who worked with a group that promoted independent living and another from a group helping those with brain injuries. The rest of the group came from city and county government.  They included one city council person, our mayor, the assistant city administrator, the fellow from public works responsible for sidewalks and, of course, the county public health person.

What made it all work was the consultant who led the effort.  They were an expert on such topics as the ADA, signal devices and what made sidewalks, driveways, intersections, traffic signals and curb cuts safe to use.

We left from the downtown library and walked 8 blocks out one route and back another.  During the walk, folks tried on the low-vision simulator glasses and the spare wheelchairs brought for that purpose.  I skipped both of them. <grin> 🙂

I had the chance to point out to the city folks how helpful contrast is to those with low-vision.  I was surprised to learn that none of them knew that. They asked if the “truncated cones” in the sidewalk by each curb cut helped.  I said that for me, they mostly helped because they contrasted with the concrete so I aim for them.

Some of us gave them an earful about the curb cuts that dumped you out into the intersection instead of directly into the crosswalk.  The audible crosswalk features also generated much discussion.

I left feeling that some good might come from this.  If it does, many people will benefit. Maybe this is something to consider where you live?

Edward

Thank you Rochester Post Bulletin and Boomer Grandpa

Hello friends,

I’m so pleased that Loren Else, the man behind the Boomer Grandpa column, featured me in one of his articles in our local newspaper, the Rochester Post Bulletin.

Karen noticed in the paper an upcoming Saturday event at the Civic Center called the Healthy Living Fair.  We stopped in that Saturday after hitting the Farmer’s Market. Apples and spinach were in my backpack.

When Karen and I walked in, she pointed out that our newspaper had a booth.  Believing that local newspapers are very important, we have subscribed since moving to town.

Loren Else, writer of the Boomer Grandpa columnI said, “Let’s step over”.  Loren Else, who writes the Boomer Grandpa column, was staffing and talking to people.  Never known for being bashful, when he was free I confirmed that he was the person who wrote about what some boomers were doing in our community.  When he confirmed that was indeed him, I pulled out a copy of my calendar. I intentionally took one, just in case such an opportunity might present itself.  

Loren looked at the calendar and asked a few questions.  I could tell he had a keen ear for possible stories. After a couple of minutes, he asked for my card and said he’d be in touch.  It sounded promising, but I’ve heard such words from others before that led nowhere.

What a pleasant surprise when he called a couple of days later to arrange a chance to talk.  Two days later we were sitting across from each other with coffee between us. We talked for almost an hour and a half with his little recorder running the whole time.  

He asked all sorts of questions about my early years, my many career paths and much about how the EZ2See® Weekly Planner/Calendar came to be. And throughout the time, I got to learn a bit about his interesting life as well.  The following week, the article came out. How fun it was when I heard from those who know me. Hopefully, it makes someone who it might help aware of the product.

You can read the article here, in the Post Bulletin

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2SeeEdward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

When Where You Are Is Not Where You Want To Be  

This Blog Post is quite different than my other ones.  This one came to me over time and seemed worth sharing.  I’m trying to put into words a philosophy for dealing with my vision-loss. It’s an attitude I’m trying to live by.   Perhaps it will strike a chord with you. Here’s how this thought came to me.

I have more trouble seeing now than I did about a year ago.  I have a couple of routes that I can walk to get to the store, the coffeeshop and downtown.  One is more shaded by trees than the other, so when it’s hot I take the more shaded route. While the coolness is nice, it is also darker.  A year ago, I could make out the curves in the sidewalk and paths where the shade was deepest.

However, this year I realized that I no longer could see the path in those shaded spots.  It was disheartening to face the reality that my eyesight had declined so much so fast. I stood there soaking in what this meant.  After a bit, with no visual clues, my handy long white cane found and kept me on the path. I slowly get past this and other sections and back on my way.  

Over time, I started to try and see beyond the deeply shaded sections.  If I could make out where the path picked up beyond these sections, I’d aim for them.   Combining confidence that comes from using my long white cane, some eyesight and this method, I’d get through these spots more quickly.  Later, I realized that if I could see someone on the path ahead of me, I’d try to use them as a moving target.

It was on one of those walks that it dawned on me that such a practice could be an allegory for the way one lives their life.  There will be times in our lives when we may feel lost, getting nowhere or unhappy with our current situation.

But if you have a big goal or a series of smaller goals, you have that spot in the path ahead to aim for.  If you don’t have such goals or if they are vague, work on them. Having goals and working towards them can be very helpful.

I also noticed that If someone was a bit ahead of me on the trail, I could use them to point the way forward. I translate this to mean, find or learn about someone who has walked a path similar to yours.  Especially if they are now in a “place” more like where you’d like to be. Guides, role models and mentors can make all the difference as you travel along your path.
Image of Edward, owner of EZ2SeeEdward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

Saving Face: Spatial Awareness Suggestions

By saving face I don’t mean avoiding embarrassment, but it could mean that too.  I’m really talking about actually avoiding running your head or face into things while moving about your place.  Why in the world would this happen?

If you are someone who moves with ramrod straight posture, you can skip this blog post.  For the rest of us whose posture tends to assume a slight bow, read on.  

Moving in this way puts your head slightly forward of your torso.  In this position, with good eyesight in dark spaces, it’s potentially more likely for your head or face to contact the corners of walls or partially open doors.  

To reduce injury, consider these ideas.

  1. Try to always keep doors fully open or fully closed.  Close cabinet doors before walking away.
  2. Little lights can be helpful.  Put nightlights in selected outlets to offer some “navigation” aids. 
  3. Create your own “early warning system.”  This means that your hands will contact the object before the rest of you.  Use this defensive move when you aren’t positive of the situation, when going around corners or passing through doorways. Here’s how I do it.
    1. With your thumb pointing up, pivot one arm up so your hand is about centered on your body at a comfortable height.  Keep your fingers slightly curved towards you and won’t get jammed if they contact an object before the rest of you does.
    2. For extra protection, position both hands in front of you and lightly press your fingers together or rest one against the other’s palm or forearm.  Whatever seems comfortable to you, just be sure those fingers are several inches in front of any part of your face that you have become fond of.

But accidents can happen even when you’re standing still.  When you bend over, you can run your face into something below and in front of you.  The goal is to always remember to check before bending over.  Some things to remember to do before bending down:

  1. Sweep your foot or hand in front of you to see if something is there,
  2. Bend over slowly rather than immediately reaching for a dropped object,
  3. Take a step backwards before bending over, or  
  4. If you can, lower yourself instead of bending at the waist.  

Changing lifelong habits takes awhile.  The key is to begin to transition to habits that help you.  Let me know if you found something here helpful.  


This is my husband’s second year for your calendar and pen order. LOVE THEM ALL!!

Your product is great and has given my husband his “freedom” back – he knows when his appointment are without needing to ask anyone He loves being in control of his schedule and life.  Independence – a very good thing to keep as long as physically possible!!

Thank you again, from both myself and my husband.

Alexis S.  Port Angeles, WA

 


Image of Edward, owner of EZ2SeeEdward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar. 

Finding Stuff, Part 2: Knowing Your Clothes

Finding stuff and then knowing what it is

Here are some tips to consider when poor eyesight impacts identifying your clothing items. What ever you do, it has to work for you.  Too many rules and it might not work over the long term.  You know yourself.  Find the right balance of simplicity and complexity that will help you.

  • The fewer variety of colors, patterns and styles you have, the less confusing it will be.
  • I love safety pins.  I use them to keep pairs of socks together before tossing them in the hamper.
  • By putting the pin at the top, heel or tow of the sock pair, it tells me the sock colors or material.
  • Do you have a pullover top that you have trouble identifying the front from the back?  Put a safety pin inside the rear collar.

Make your Closet a Helpful System

  • Organize related items by hanging them on the left or right side. If there are other natural dividers on the closet rod, use them.
  • Use different types of hangers for similar things.
  • Point the open end of the hanger hook facing towards or away for similar items.
  • Hang tops and bottoms that go together on the same hanger.
  • Let which side the buttons on a button up top face mean something.

If you swap out seasonal Items, maintain any order you’ve created by storing similar items together.

As I’ve said before, there are professionals trained in methods that will make your life easier.  Track down where you can find them.  Your state will have a program for either seniors or the blind.   Start by reaching out to them.

Lastly, if you have systems that work for you, please share them with me.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Edward Cohen is the legally-blind creater of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

Return to Table of Contents

Finding stuff, Part 1: In the Kitchen

Finding stuff and then knowing what it is

If your eyesight no longer gives you the information you need about the world around you, it’s time to pay more attention to other senses.   The sense of touch is the sense most used by low-vision and blind people to learn about the world around them.  Below are things that I’ve come up with that work for me.  Please share some that work for you.  You may need sighted assistance to set up some of these.  

I’ve divided these tips into two parts.  This one focuses on dining issues and finding and identifying things in the kitchen. The next one deals with clothing issues.

Making eating a bit easier

  • Yes, you can touch your food to help get it onto a fork, but probably not when dining with strangers.
  • If you have some sight, consider selecting a plate or bowl with a color that contrasts with the contents to makes food easier to spot.  
  • Some meals are easier eaten in a bowl instead of on a plate.  This might help when dining out.

What’s in this container?

Rubber bands are my friend.  Here are a few ways I use them.

  • There are several similar salad dressing bottles in the fridge door, but my Italian dressing is the only one adorned with a rubber band.  
  • We store many dry items in identical glass jars.  The one with my corn chips have a rubber band around the cap.  My cracker jar has a rubber band around the bottle cap.
  • Olives always go into the same glass jar on which I’ve put a tactile bump on the cap.
  • Consider learning the braille alphabet.  Then you can use adhesive labels with a word or letter.

 Where is that button?

Our microwave and other appliances have a flat screen display, useless for the blind and low-vision.  

I put a tactile bump on the microwave 30 second and off button and I’m good to go.  These tactile bumps are small adhesive-backed raised dots.  An example you are familiar with is the one your cabinet doors close against, to protect the wood.   Find them online or at a hardware,  big box or dollar store.

There are so many handy tips and devices to make kitchen tasks easier.  Consider finding and working with a trained rehabilitation teacher.  They can be very helpful.  

My next post deals with identifying and managing clothing.

Image of Edward, owner of EZ2See

Edward Cohen is the creator of the EZ2See® weekly planner/calendar.

Return to Table of Contents

Now where did I put that?  Breaking unconscious habits

In my last Blog Post, I said I would begin to discuss those unconscious habits that may no longer serve you and what to do about them.  This post discusses the all too common situation of briefly setting down an item and then not being able to quickly find it.

Before I start, let’s agree that it will help if you assign a place for an item and then always put it back there.  This is, of        course, much easier to do if small children aren’t around.

The key to breaking habits is to pause at the critical moment to consider your options and only then continue.  At first you won’t regularly pause.  But keep trying, eventually you will.

Here are some options to consider when you pause:

Option 1:  Get a grip

Consider not setting the item down at all.  Obvious, right?  If you don’t set it down, you won’t be looking for it all over.  Evaluate what you’re holding.  For example if it is something small and light like a bread bag twisty, you might grasp it lightly between your teeth.  You’re unlikely to misplace it there.

Option 2: Got pockets?

If clenching it in your teeth isn’t appropriate, what about putting it in your pocket, assuming you have one?  Of course, you’ll have to remember you put it there.   Think of the old joke of the person looking for their glasses only to find them resting on their forehead.

Option 3: Corner the problem

Consider that a 3 foot by 5 foot table has over two thousand square inches.  Plus, if the table has stuff on it or your vision is poor, finding what you set down can be even harder.

Now consider that most tables or counter tops likely have no more than four corners.  If you get in the habit of setting things down on corner, you’ll only need to look in one or two places which could greatly reduce your frustration finding things.

Even kitchen counters may have inside or outside corners.  If not, consider the corners of those fixed objects that sit on the counter top.

My next post will deal with reducing and dealing with dropping things.

Return to Table of Contents

Sharing Tips I’ve Learned

Occasionally I’m invited to share lessons I’ve learned as I deal with vision loss and show some of the devices I find helpful.  At more than one, I’m encouraged to put this information on to the internet.  So here goes.

The first thing you need to know is that every state has a program specifically devoted to assisting people of all ages who are dealing with vision loss and blindness.  They are a tremendous resource, so seek out your state’s program.  Look for State Services for the Blind or something like it.  They have professionals who can come out to you and they may also be able to provide useful training, products and/or devices at no charge.  

Over my 60+ years, I slowly at first and later more rapidly, lost eyesight.  In a way, I’m lucky.  I’ve had the time to learn a lot of coping skills.  I’m convinced that a big part of dealing with vision loss is mental.  By mental, I mean the many unconscious habits we have.  Perhaps these actions were positive and helpful in the past.  But it’s likely that some of them are not anymore.  Some may now even be harmful or dangerous.  

Your challenge is to recognize those habits that are no longer helpful.  Let’s call them, “Habits to Stop” or H2S.  One clue that you’ve found an H2S is when you find yourself frustrated over something you just did such as walking in, setting your keys down and later can’t find them.  When you notice an H2S, you might even want to stop and say out loud, “Oh, an H2S”.  Finding and replacing it is the solution and your mission.

Once you’ve spotted an H2S, you’re on the path to success.  The next step is to find a replacement habit.   Lastly repeat it until it becomes subconscious and automatic.

In my next several blog posts, I will get very specific on the helpful habits I’m using.  I hope you’ll let me know if you find any of them helpful.  Perhaps you’ll share some of your own.

Return to Table of Contents

When I get an order through the mail

One of the major things that motivated me to turn this calendar idea from something just for me into what it is now, was  the feeling I got hearing the comments from those first enthusiastic buyers.  I’d think to myself, “Wow, I’m really helping someone”.   Could this be what a teacher, medical professional or the like experiences as they go about their work?  How few of us ever get to experience such a feeling.   

As each handwritten first time or repeat mail order form arrives, it reminds me of that original feeling.  Sometimes people give me feedback via the website or in a note stuck in the envelope.  How rewarding it is to hear that this simple product is making a difference in people’s daily life.  

While orders to resellers and over the Internet to individuals are a vote of confidence, these mail-order customers are somehow special to me.  I hope I never lose this feeling.

Return to Table of Contents

With Spring Comes Yardwork

I don’t know about you, but when working in the yard I often can’t find the rake or other long-handled tool I had just set down.  This happens even when I consciously place it where I think I’ll find it.  It occurred to me that, just as a lack of contrast makes it hard to find things inside, that may be part of what is happening here.  

The wooden or metal handles blend in with the ground and trees.  They stand out better when laid on the sidewalk or driveway, but that isn’t the best idea.  When inside, I set things down in certain places and that really helps to find them.  But I’ve yet to develop such helpful habits when setting things down outside.  Of course, outside is much bigger than inside.  Maybe drag out an old garbage can to serve as the tool holder?  

So, now I’m thinking of how I can add some contrast to the tool.  White tape or white paint on the handle is one idea.  If I find something that works well, I’ll share it.  If you have already found a solution, would you share it with me?  I’ll pass on what comes in.

Return to Table of Contents

« Older posts

© 2019

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to content