Family or Friends
"We do things slightly different," Gloria explains. "We don't go to the movies, we watch DVDs so I can talk him through them and rewind when necessary."Read Carl and Gloria's Story
The support of family and friends is vital when someone loses their vision. Finding the right information or the best resources can be difficult when you don't know where to turn or don't understand the new terminology.
At Second Sense, we can help both you and your loved one discover the options that are available to help you make an informed decision. Below are some of the first steps you can take to assist your loved one. For additional information, please call us at 312-236-8569 or send an email to Polly Abbott. We are eager to help your loved one make the most of their new life.
Ten Steps to Encourage a Productive Lifestyle
- Clarify diagnosis and prognosis of the eye condition with a medical eye care professional. Make sure you understand how the eye condition affects the field of vision and acuity. Find out if there is a diagnosis of “legal blindness” (acuity of less than 20/200 in best corrected eye or visual field less than 20 degrees), and if so, get a letter from the doctor as proof. Copies of this letter may be used as proof of vision loss when registering for different services.
- See a Low Vision Optometrist for a low vision assessment to determine what needs exist for magnification, lighting and contrast. Obtain magnification devices. If the ability to pay for these aids is an issue, funding or other assistance is available through:
- Illinois Assistive Technology Program 800-852-5110
- Centers for Independent Living (Ask about the Elder Blind Grant). Find the closest center online at www.ilusa.com/links/ilcenters.htm
- Local public libraries sometimes also have CCTVs for loan
- Call the local blindness agency, state department of rehabilitation services/bureau of blind services or veterans’ hospital for assessment and instruction of daily living skills and orientation and mobility training. Be aware of what services and programs are offered in the community.
- Illinois Center for Education and Rehabilitation 312-633-3520
- Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration 708-202-8387
- American Foundation for the Blind 800-232-5463 (To find services in your area)
- Become familiar with adaptive products and technologies available to help your loved one carry out everyday tasks. Obtain catalogues from vendors who sell these products.
- Second Sense 312-236-8569
- Independent Living Aids 800-537-2118
- LS&S Products 800-468-4789
- www.ShopLowVision.com 800-826-4200
- Determine who and what is necessary to move your friend or loved one toward a more independent lifestyle. Take time to learn about the vision rehabilitation professionals who are trained to support people with vision loss. These include Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (CVRT) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COM). Attend conferences and educational workshops with your family member to better understand the vision rehabilitation process.
- Sign up for FREE 411. Call the telephone service provider and speak to the Customer Service/special needs department to request free 411. They will send a form to be completed by a medical doctor. After sending it back, directory assistance calls will not be charged within the local calling area. (This is an example of when a letter from the doctor describing the vision diagnosis would be very helpful).
- Sign up for reduced fare and paratransit service by contacting the RTA ADA Paratransit Certification Program at 312-663-4357.
- Sign up for other services to help your loved one stay informed and entertained:
- National Library Service Talking Book Program (books and magazines on tape and descriptive videos sent and returned free of charge). Call 888-657-7323 to connect to a local library.
- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (digital audio books) Call 800-221-4792 or visit www.rfbd.org.
- NFB Newsline (free access to newspapers, magazines and TV listings from across the country at anytime via the telephone). Call 866-504-7300 for a registration form or visit www.nfbnewsline.org. This service may also be acquired through your Talking Book center.
- Encourage your friend or loved one to reach out to their support systems. Offer information about counseling services and support groups with others who have similar vision issues. Confront your own stereotypes through self education. Get yourself connected by attending caregiver support groups.
- Managing the Balancing Act, Second Sense's support group, focuses on topics such as independence, anger management, coping strategies and depression awareness.
- Second Sense also offers an RP Support Group and other groups focusing on specific eye conditions. See our counseling program descriptions for more details.
- Contact Second Sense to find out if there is a support group in your area (Chicago-area only) Contact Kathy Austin by email or at 312-236-8569
- Continue to have your loved one see an eye care professional at least once a year to monitor vision health. Many newsletters are available on the latest developments in research and treatments that can be discussed with the eye care professional.