Completing Everyday Tasks with Low Vision

How can you dial a phone, write yourself a message, or send an email if you have low vision?  This section describes some of the common strategies and tools used to accomplish Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) when reading regular print or seeing clearly is not possible.  You will learn that HOW a task is performed is not as important as getting the job DONE.

  1. Seeing A light colored tray holds a dark colored cutting board, bowl with a variety of kitchen tools and a knife.
  • Color contrast is important to make objects visible. Like colors cause objects or their features to blend in and become invisible to the low vision eye.  Many people will purposefully consider and build color contrast into their environment:  black coffee is more easily seen in a white cup.
  • Lighting is very important. Task lighting increases visibility on reading material or whatever a person is trying to see close up.  Ambient and accent lighting (such as over kitchen counters) increase a person’s ability to function.  Many people will use small flashlights or other portable lights to illuminate restaurant menus.  Most hand-held magnifiers also include a small LED light for this purpose.
  • Glare is the light that bounces off shiny surfaces or general brightness that prevents a person from seeing clearly. Sunglasses or a hat with a brim are excellent protection against glare.  So are curtains and blinds—as long as the lights are on in the room.
  • Regular glasses may not give a person 20/20, but they will give the best possible corrected acuity.
  • Close proximity often helps a person see something better. Most commonly, a person will have to move their chair closer to the screen to watch TV.
  1. Reading and Writing Dee uses an Ott Light for task lighting, wide-lined paper and a 20/20 pen to increase readality and prints in large letters.
  • Bold black pens are more easily seen than regular blue ball-point pens. Sometimes very thick black markers are the only tool that produces a legible document for someone making notes to themselves.
  • Printing is more legible than cursive writing. Upper and lower case letters should be used as appropriate for better overall word shape recognition. (Words written in all capitals become all rectangular in shape: “EGGS” vs. “eggs”)
  • Bold line writing paper, plastic writing guides, a crease in a piece of paper or a ruler can all act as a guide to keep a pen writing in a straight line.
  • Hand-held magnifiers, desktop video magnifier, or portable video magnifiers are all ways of enlarging print.
  1. Keeping Appointments/Telling Time
  • Calendars and watches come in large print sizes that are big and easy to see.
  • Talking watches and talking clocks eliminate the need to see the time.
  • A small portable voice recorder is a quick solution to recording important information such as doctor’s appointments, phone numbers, and other personal notes without having to worry about reading handwriting for accuracy later.
  1. Using the Phone iPhone with large display keypad
  • Large button phones are easy to see and are good for at home. Many have helpful features like speed dial.  Most phones have a bump or other tactile marker on the “5” to help locate all the buttons.
  • Odin, Jitterbug, and Doro are all brands of vision loss-friendly phones with features that make them easy to see or hear.
  • SIRI on iPhones will allow you to dictate who you wish to call from the list of contacts.
  1. Using a Computer
  • Windows computers have some optional accessibility features that enlarge font, increase color contrast, or make the mouse and cursor easier to see. Look under “Control Panel.”
  • Apple computers also have low vision accessibility features built into the operating features. Look under “General.”
  • Other “screen magnification” programs can be purchased and added to a PC such as ZoomText®, iZoom® and MAGic®.

There are adaptations for everything a person needs to do (ADLs) and wishes to do.  “Making Life More Livable” (revised by Maureen A. Duffy) from AFB press is an excellent resource to have on hand.