Skip to main content
Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Clients Learning New Skills

The stories our clients share are a great way to show the impact our donors have on their lives. They are also a glimpse into the type of training Second Sense staff can provide. Here are a few client stories we shared in our email newsletter.

Margaret Uses Eccentric Viewing

Margaret sits at a table with a beautifully decorated birthday cake in front of her.

Margaret has age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition causes a loss of central vision.

If you put a nickel right up to your eye, you can’t see anything straight ahead. You can, however, move your eyes — side to side or up and down — to see around the coin.

But, moving her eyes doesn’t help Margaret. The blind spots move with her eyes.

At her first appointment with a low vision doctor, Margaret was told to try a technique called “eccentric viewing.” This technique involves using your peripheral vision in place of your central vision.

“I was in the early stages of with AMD then. I found it easy to do. Then, as things got worse, I found it was easier to use the peripheral vision on the left side.”

As Margaret’s vision deteriorated, reading became more of a struggle. Margaret’s daughter, Pat, called Second Sense and asked if we could help. Cody, one of our Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, went out to do an assessment. “Cody was great,” Pat said. “He was very patient. He praised what mom already knew and then taught her new skills.”
“The exercises for eccentric viewing helped,” Margaret added, “I am able to use it to read my mail without help.

Before vision loss, Margaret spent a lot of her time sewing, knitting and doing needlepoint. She believes that using eccentric viewing and magnification she will be able to do some needlework again.

“I am determined to make a cowl scarf for myself for the winter.”

Kenneth Learns to Travel Independently

Kennth leans casually against a wall with his legs crossed at the ankles and his cane by his side.

Kenneth was less than a block away from the state training center where he was learning some basic mobility training. It started to rain heavily. The group broke up and Kenneth headed alone back to the center. He tried to use his training, listening for the sound of the cane again the sidewalk. But all he could hear was the sound of the rain.

When someone grabbed Kennth’s arm – he still is not sure who or why – Kenneth was completely turned around. Now he was alone, in the pouring rain, and completely disoriented to where he was. Luckily, a woman from a nearby office saw his predicament and braved the rain to help him out.

Kenneth wants to avoid any future situations like that. He wants to improve his mobility skills and learn how to effectively disengage from someone offering unsolicited assistance.

So, he started orientation and mobility training with Mandi in May of this year.

“Just a few weeks ago – this is something I have never done – I walked down to the Dunkin’ Donuts, got a coffee and walked back. I used all the skills I have learned from Mandi.”

One of the skills used to orient yourself to your surroundings is to designate a “marker.” This can be the sound of music from a bar, the smell of food from a restaurant or a physical structure.

“On the sidewalk just outside my destintion, there is an elevator going up to the ‘L. I use this as a marker so I know where the revolving door is to go inside. Before my training, I would never have done that.

“My goal is to be able to walk to my local grocery store, to my bank, to the local Polish deli to get my sauerkraut. They are all so close. But without this training I would have to schedule a ride with Pace. Wait for them to come pick me up, and only make one stop. All on their schedule.”

Kenneth is also looking forward to participate in training at Second Sense that will teach him how to disengage from “helpful” strangers and to de-escalate potential dangerous situations.



Mary Learns Cooking Skills

Three oreo cookies

“I was living on Oreo cookies and hard boiled eggs.”

Mary could no longer just look in the refrigerator and put together a quick meal.

“I couldn’t tell if food was good or spoiled. It was exhausting to just make a sandwich.”

But, Mary is stubborn and likes to be independent. Luckily, when Mary worked for a DuPage County organization, she had received information about Second Sense. “I kept the information just in case.”

And “just in case” happened when COVID struck, she lost her husband and her vision loss accerated.

Mary is working with Taurus on daily living skills.

Taurus is teaching her cooking skills and to use her iPhone with VoiceOver.

“It is a whole new world,” Mary shared. “Taurus showed me how to use Be My Eyes. It is the best app ever!”

“I was making a scrambled egg sandwich. But the only bread I had was sourdough. I couldn’t tell if it was moldy just by the smell. So I opened the app and was connected with a sighted volunteer. I showed him the bread through the phone’s camera and was assured that it was fine.

“I am learning to ask for help a little more. I decided I could sit here and feel sorry for myself. But, that would just leave me with no clean clothes and no food to eat.

“I have found that the more you complain, the less people want to be with you. I have been blessed with so many good friends. If I can be more independent and do more things on my own, I can just ask them for help when I really need it.”