In 2015, it was estimated that around two hundred and fifty-three million (253 million) people were visually impaired. Out of this, thirty-six million people were blind. This number has increased over time. There are several reasons for visual impairment or blindness. Someone is born with it, some have a neurological disorder that causes them to lose their vision over time, and some are blind due to accidents or trauma in their eyes.
But being blind does not automatically mean that you lose your independence, that you have to rely on others your entire life. Once you understand what your needs are and how everything works, doing them becomes second nature. But to be truly independent, you need to accept your visual impairment, accept the reality of your situation, learn minimal skills, and then integrate yourself into society as an individual. This brings up a question that a lot of sighted (and even visually impaired) people have.
Can a Blind Person Live Alone?
The short answer is, yes, they can.
Around twenty-six percent of blind people live alone, which means one out of every four blind adults. The patterns, however, differ for women and men of different ages. It is more likely for a blind woman to live alone at an older age. The pattern is so different for people based on their race and ethnicity. (information found on the report provided by National Research Center for Health Research)
But the point is that blind people are able to live alone. Sure they will have to face some challenges, and things will be a bit different if they lived with someone else who used to help them. However, they will be able to adapt to their new environment and will thrive in it as well.
In today’s world, there are all sorts of technologies that help visually impaired people. An example is Apple. They have this feature preinstalled on all Apple devices (iPhones, iPad, etc.) called Voiceover. What it does is it reads whatever is on the screen, our loud once we touch it. So it helps blind individuals navigate their way around their phone, knowing which app they are using, who they are calling, texting, etc.
But this is not where it stops. If you are someone or you know someone who is visually impaired and is starting to line independently but needs to get some tips to help you with the process, you are at the right place. Here are some suggestions for blind people to help them live independently.
Also, you should check out my post on the Best Banks And Banking Apps For Visually Impaired.
10 Tips For Living Independently As A Blind Individual
1. Declutter The House
The first step towards living independently is decluttering the house. It’s better if you ask someone to help you with this because it will ensure you don’t need help in the future.
Remove things you don’t need; just put them aside (in a place that won’t bother you). The more you keep your stuff organized, the better it will be because you won’t have to shuffle through piles and piles of stuff to get what you want every single time. And while you are decluttering, remember where you keep everything (try not to keep things in a weird or complicated place). The more things are within your reach, the better it is.
Check out my related post on Best Microwave Ovens And Stoves For Visually Impaired.
2. Use Raised Dots
You will need raised dots to put them in appliances like on the start/stop button of the microwave, knobs of the stove, buttons of washing machines, etc. You can create a system with it as well if it helps you. Like for the washing machine, use the raised dots in chronological numbers (according to the steps, basically). So you know which button to press first and so on so forth. This also works on light switches (of you have a lot of them).
3. Invest On An iPhone
It would help if you had an iPhone. And no, I Don’t mean the latest, most expensive one, just anyone that has the voice-over feature. iPhones have voice-over features preinstalled, so it reads what’s on the screen out loud. This way, you won’t have to guess who you are calling or which all you are using.
4. Use Applications As Guides
There are several applications that you can use which will help you in your day-to-day life. Some of them are:
- LookTel Money Reader
This app recognizes the bill you are holding with the help of the camera. This way, no one will be able to give you the wrong change or take more money from you.
TapTapSee is a great app and is used to identify objects through pictures. All you have to do is open the app, double-tap on the screen. A picture will be taken, and then the name of the object will be spoken to you out loud. So you won’t have to guess what anything in your hand is.
Note: Open the voice-over function to beat the name of the object out loud.
- KNFB Reader
This app helps convert any printed text to speech so you can hear what’s written accurately and efficiently.
- Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes might be the application that you know about. It’s really well known as it provides real-time help by real people through video connections. So you can ask people even something as small as which can of soup is what, and they will help you out.
- Color ID Free
If you work with colors a lot (and even if you don’t), this app will be really helpful for you. All you need to do is use the camera of an iPhone, and the app will say the name of the color out loud.
It’s great if you want to paint, for picking out clothes, furniture, etc.
5. Use A Braille Display
This is a great way to proofread your documents or your work, read any story, any blogs, etc. With the help of a braille display, not only will you be able to read whatever you want, but you can also use the braille keyboard to type whatever you want if you are unable to use a standard keyboard.
6. Get Amazon Echo (Alexa)
We all have heard about Alexa and how great she is. She is also really helpful for visually impaired people. Anything you eat to read, you can ask her if you want to know the weather, listen to a song, ask for information, need a reminder. All you have to do is ask Alexa. This purchase might just be your lifesaver.
7. Use Talking Scales
If you like baking or just need to measure things a lot, say hello to talking scales. It will measure anything that you put on top of it AND will also state the measurement out loud. So you can use it for anything you want.
8. Buy An OrCam
This is another pricey thing on the list. And although it’s pretty expensive, it’s quite helpful as well. The OrCam reads any text, recognizes products as well as faces, reads barcodes, and even detects colors. Kind of like an all-in-one device. So if you feel like you can benefit from an OrCam, it’s worth the investment.
Make sure to check out my related post – Reading Devices For Visually Impaired – What’s Available?
9. Use A Long cane
A lot of visually impaired people struggle with accepting what they are going through. Because of this, they struggle with accepting and using a long cane. Although it’s really important and helpful for blind people, not every individual who needs it is ready to use it.
But it’s really helpful, especially when you are out and about. It helps you navigate your way, enables you to move around confidently and independently. When you realize that this thing does represent your disability but is an extension of your freedom is when you will truly embrace it.
10. Signature Guides
Signature guides do precisely what they say. They help you sign your documents correctly, ensuring that everything is similar. Even if you don’t have to sign a lot of documents, it’s beneficial if you have it for things like when you visit the bank or whatnot.
So here you go. Ten things and tips and to help you live independently as a blind person. Remember, just because you live independently does not mean you can’t ask for help. It’s completely fine to ask for and accept help because that’s human nature.
Another reminder, your sense of sight is not the key to your freedom. You don’t need to see to live a happy and fulfilled life on your own. So all the best on your new venture!