Read these 4 Coping With Blindness Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Disability tips and hundreds of other topics.
With advanced technology, it is getting easier for the blind and visually impaired to sit down and enjoy a good book. Bookshare.org is a site that acts as a central repository for scanned books. They are available for download over the internet. Bookshare does charge a small fee, but other sites have a limited selection of books that can be downloaded for free.
Books can be downloaded in digital grade 2 Braille or in the DAISY format. The books can be read using a refreshable Braille device or other accessible software program (such as Bookshare's Victor Reader Soft DAISY book player, provided with membership to Bookshare). The books at Bookshare have full text, but no pre-recorded audio, thereby necessitating the use of a book player.
Other options include buying or downloading audio books on cassette or CD. These can be listened to in a standard cassette tape or CD player. Some audio books may also be free, depending on the book and the site where you find it.
While there are many reference sites with information on blindness, the best sites to use are government sites and organizations. The Library of Congress has a list of sites with not only information on blindness, but other resources for the blind and visually impaired, including:
A blind or severely visually impaired individual can receive social security or SSI disability if he or she is considered legally blind. Even though disability payments are not enough to live on in most areas of the country, there is some help for the blind from the government. While the formal definition of being legally blind is 20/200 vision or worse, even with corrective lenses, the social security administration considers a person legally blind if vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the better eye. It also considers a person legally blind if the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the better eye.
On money matters, the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/nyregion/22blind.html) reports that in May of 2008, the federal appeals court panel in Washington upheld a lower court ruling that says the government discriminates against the blind and partly blind because paper money is all the same size with the same texture. If the ruling stands, the Treasury Department will have to redesign bills. If the bills are redesigned, vending machines will have to be refitted for the new currency.
This is a big issue for the blind and visually impaired, as people cannot rely on sighted people to be honest about the face value of each bill. Many times, a sighted person will tell the blind or visually impaired that the bill is a $1 bill, when in fact it is a $5 or a $20 dollar bill.
Being able to read and write is of great societal importance. A person with a visual impairment is considered illiterate if he or she cannot read Braille, according to definition. Statistics were taken from the Braille Institute. Because of the importance of literacy, the Braille Institute dedicates much of its resources to help increase Braille literacy in the blind community. Ninety percent of blind jobholders in the United States are Braille literate. Thirty-three states have enacted bills that promote Braille instruction in school (grades K-12).
A person is considered legally blind if “their central vision acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye, even with corrective lenses.” If the central vision acuity is more than 20/200 but the peripheral field is “restricted to a diameter of 20 degrees or less,” a person is considered legally blind.
About 7.3 million (about 25 percent of the population) people over the age of 65 have some form of vision impairment. Diabetics are 25 time more likely to go blind than non-diabetics. In the United States, there are 15 million people who are either blind or have some other vision impairment.
Women live longer than men, so visual impairment statistics are overrepresented in favor or women. One in 20 preschool-age kids (ages 3 to 5) is affected by vision problems. About 25 percent of school-age (6 to 17) children are affected by vision problems. Seventy percent of blind or severely visually impaired people are over 65, and out of that group, 50 percent are legally blind.
There are aids for the blind and visually impaired, but not many blind people make use of these aids—only 2 percent of legally blind people use a guide dog and 35 percent use a white cane.
Leading causes of blindness include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related cataracts.