Canes, talking watches and more: Group offers tool kit for the visually impaired
Jackie Young is blind in one eye, with just a slice of vision remaining in the other. Young has glaucoma and gave up driving years ago when her vision began to worsen. But she wasn’t willing to stay at home, and she never quit her daily walks.
“I get out,” Young said. “I walk the neighborhood, the parks … a little bit of the trail.” All told, she covers at least 4 miles every day. And she credits Society for the Blind with helping her stay safe and independent.
“Being taught to use the cane — that was one of the biggest things for me,” Young. said. “That cane has saved me from falling over a big cement block that was unexpectedly in the middle of the sidewalk.”
The long white cane is one of several assistive tools included in Society for the Blind’s “Senior Safe At Home Kits.” As part of this year’s Book of Dreams, the organization is asking readers of The Sacramento Bee for $5,800 to cover the cost of 50 kits for blind and low-vision individuals like Young who are 55 and older.
“The pandemic has done a couple of things and one is that individuals are recognizing sooner that they need help because of their vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director of Society for the Blind. But while demand has increased, she said, the pandemic has also made it harder to provide clients with in-person training.
“That’s where these Senior Safe At Home kits become critical,” Roeseler said. “We get on the phone with them when they get their kits and we go through what the items are and how they can use them.”
“The items that are part of the kit are things we have been purchasing and delivering to our clients in the senior program for many years,” added Shane Snyder, the group’s director of programs.
In addition to the long white cane, each kit includes a liquid level indicator, a device that clips onto a drinking glass or mug and beeps an alert when it’s time to stop pouring.
“When you lose vision, suddenly pouring a cup of coffee can become a hazardous task,” Snyder said. The kits also include a talking watch key chain and digital recorder. The talking watch is a simple device that announces the time at the push of a button. The digital recorder has many uses, including storing phone numbers, appointments, to-do lists and recipes.
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