Independent Living for Adults and Seniors with Vision Loss

Remaining independent is certainly possible for adults and seniors with vision loss. The sites in this section offer resources and advice on assistive technology, finding new ways to perform familiar tasks and household chores, organizing one’s home for safety and convenience, caring for belongings, and tending to personal appearance.
 
Below is a list of topics you'll find in this section. Click on a title to jump to a specific topic.
 
 
 

Assistive Technology

The resources on this page are designed to promote independence in older adults who are blind or visually impaired. Inclusion of specific products and manufacturers is not an endorsement by Perkins School for the Blind, but rather an attempt to inform consumers on the range of devices that are available.
 
Braille Monitor, 48(10), 2005, National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
The access technology staff at the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind of the NFB Jernigan Institute has now compiled some valuable information about low-tech and high-tech equipment of interest to many seniors.
 
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
These aids and appliances are designed to help seniors with low vision to stay independent.
 
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
A searchable database of assistive technology products used by people who are blind or visually impaired. Search for a product or manufacturer, explore the variety of products, and decide which product is best suited for the user's needs.
 

Classes & Programs for Independent Living

Helen Keller National Center
A state-by-state directory of publicly and privately funded resources and consultants.
 
A directory of Independent Living Centers, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for people with all kinds of disabilities; includes international listings.
 

Classes and Programs for Independent Living--Massachusetts and New England

Approximately 40,000 services and programs in Massachusetts for elders, including those with vision loss; aimed at consumers, caregivers, and professionals.
 
While the directory portion of this website is specific to Central Massachusetts, this website has a wealth of useful information for seniors and caregivers about coping with vision loss. Includes general information on aging, population demographics, and more.
 

Classes and Programs for Independent Living: Organizations & Resources to Explore

ILRU is a national center for information, training, research, and technical assistance in independent living, and offers extensive full-text online publications.
 
U.S. Department of Education
This site advises on the use of federal funds to provide independent living services to older individuals who are blind.
 
NCIL advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy; the site includes information on current legislation.
 
 

Cooking & Kitchen Safety

Practical suggestions on a range of topics, including grocery shopping, setting the table, safety, serving food, and eating out; includes a video on kitchen activities.
 
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Practical suggestions on a range of topics, including, cutting and chopping, pouring, peeling, baking, adapting cookbooks and recipes and useful tools and small appliances; including a video on safely pouring liquids.
 
 

Environmental Modifications

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
A checklist of safety tips for lighting, furniture, elimination of hazards, use of color contrast, and safety in hallways and stairways.
 
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
This webinar produced at Perkins explains specific aspects of environmental obstacles, with adaptation tips.
 
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Making the home environment safe and well organized; focuses on lighting, glare, contrast, organization, and eliminating hazards; available in English and Spanish.
 
VisionAware
Modifications to improve lighting, contrast, and organization; includes a video.
 
VisionAware
Lighting, color contrast, and glare reduction in effective environmental design.
 
VisionAware
This questionnaire is a tool for evaluating safety and lighting in the home.
 
Vision Australia
Outlines some principles that make tasks a bit easier.
 
VisionAware
A survey for identifying safety issues with many ideas for solutions and adaptations.
 
Low Vision Center
Using contrast to maximize vision in the kitchen, bathroom, around the house, and outside.
 
About.com Guide to Senior Living
Low vision safety tips to prevents falls and other injuries.
 
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Take this short quiz to learn how to enhance your quality of life and practice safe habits.
 
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
A room-by-room safety evaluation, with dozens of recommended modifications.
 
VisionAware
This list of suggestions will eliminate home hazards.
 
 

Financial Matters

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Simple techniques for distinguishing U.S. coins and bills from one another; available in English and Spanish.
 
VisionAware
Basic skills for maintaining financial health: identifying money, managing a bank account, and paying bills; includes online video.
 
 

Grooming & Personal Care

VisionAware
Many tips for labeling clothing and other personal items.
 
VisionAware
Step-by-step instructions for a bright shoeshine.
 
Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB)
This slide show offers instruction and tips for measuring medication, administering eye drops, and pouring accurate doses.
 
Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB)
This downloadable PowerPoint shows a step-by-step explanation of his razor-shaving techniques by a man who is blind. Presentation also available as an MS Word document.
 
 

Household Tasks & Management

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
This “better living blog” has tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people.
 
Macular Degeneration Foundation
Tips for home lighting (creating contrast, reducing glare, etc.), and kitchen, bathroom, and leisure activities.
 
American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Occupational therapists explain what they can do to help elders with vision loss perform typical daily activities independently. Also see http://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Patients-Clients/Adults.aspx
 
National Federation of the Blind
Common concerns about activities daily life, including reading, mobility, recreation, and household management
 
 

Lighting

Lighthouse International
Lighting consultant Linda Sanford addresses the importance of increasing light, reducing glare, enhancing contrast, and augmenting color discrimination.
 
Lighting Research Center
Lighting principles that increase effectiveness for older adults.
 
Lighting Research Center
This 28-page booklet answers common questions about vision and lighting for older adults, and offers practical solutions for the home. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
 
Vision Australia
A fact sheet on the best ways to use both general and task lighting.
 

Safety & Personal Security

VisionAware
AFB’s advice helps seniors travel and enjoy community resources safely and confidently.