Holiday Gift Giving: Shopping for Someone with Vision Loss

December 1, 2014 | 1 Comment

by Polly Abbott, CVRT, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense

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Do you have people on your holiday gift giving list that seem impossible to shop for? Out of ideas of what to get? Welcome to the club!

If you are shopping for someone who has vision loss, the task might seem even more challenging.

Do you have a mother or father with low vision who, despite your efforts to get them a magnifier or other helpful device, continues to tell you, “I’m fine — I don’t need anything!”  How nice that the holidays are a time for getting them what they don’t need!  Why not get them a large print 2015 calendar, a large pretty pot of a year’s supply of 20/20 pens, a talking clock or a new Ott lite!

Here are five tips to keep in mind before you buy:

1. Do Your Research

Talk to people who are already using the item and have vision loss.  This is especially important if you are considering something with buttons or trying to decide Android vs. iPhone,  Kindle vs iPad, or Dragon Naturally Speaking vs ZoomText.

Join the Second Sense listserv, Tech Exchange, to ask your questions and get feedback from users.  You can also contact David Flament for information and advice on what might be the best device for your family member or friend.

2. Be an Informed Consumer When Purchasing Magnification Devices

Unless you already know what strength and style of magnifier your gift recipient needs, don’t buy one.  It’s too easy to get the wrong strength or style and it might just cause more frustration.

Instead, consider scheduling a visit with Brian Hollandsworth in the Second Sense product center with the person in your life who needs the magnification.  Brian’s expert advice and consultation will help your loved one find the right magnifier.  Facing resistance? Consider sweetening the experience with lunch in downtown Chicago!

3. Caution Needed

Use caution if purchasing an item that is related to an activity that is potentially injury-causing, such as kitchen gadgets.  Educate yourself on any special techniques or safety points by speaking with a vision rehabilitation professional before purchasing the item.

For example, a liquid level indicator is a great device that makes pouring hot liquids without over-filling the cup easier, BUT did you know you must always pinch the sensors to test that the beeping mechanism still works each time before you pour?

A person may have trouble pouring because of other issues that have nothing to do with not being able to see when the cup is full.  There are also many other strategies for pouring safely and even ways to get a hot cup of tea or coffee that don’t involve pouring at all!  You might wish to schedule a “how to use it” lesson with a vision rehabilitation therapist to go along with the gift.

No matter what accessible gadget you buy, remember success is made up of 10% battery power, 45% encouragement and 45% training and support.  You are buying a solution to a difficulty that you observe your loved one having — the gadget alone doesn’t necessarily make everything better.

4. Spending Time Together

Often, the best gifts have no price tag.  Your family or friend may just enjoy spending time with you above all things.  Consider sharing that time together at some of the many events in and around Chicago that are accessible to people with vision loss

5. Need More Ideas?

Each November, the American Foundation of the Blind publishes an issue of Access World that includes a variety of accessible gift suggestions:

Call us at Second Sense! Together we can help you find the perfectly accessible, useful and enjoyable gift.

Good luck and happy shopping!

1 comment on “Holiday Gift Giving: Shopping for Someone with Vision Loss”

  1. Vince Burns says:

    I think it is smart to get them something that they need. You don’t always have to do something that people might like. I like to go through and see if there is anything that they need and help them with that. There are a few sites that sell aids for daily living that people with disabilities. I was looking on https://www.ansteys.com.au/c/4163822/1/daily-living-aids.html and they have a pretty good selection on things. Some things I think are really helpful in everyday life like a shoe horn.

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