There are a range of communication strategies that you can try to help you be fully informed about your own vision and determine what you need.
Communication – making your thoughts and needs clear
The essence of good communication is balancing opportunities for helping and for receiving help. Knowing when to ask for help is a dilemma for most people – whether they have a disability or not.
Some good guiding principles are:
- Cherish your independence; ask for things when you need them;
- Gently and cheerfully remind people when they fail to be inclusive;
- Mention your sight loss as a fact of life
- Consult your own understanding of the real impact of your sight loss and your own sense of fair play.
- Approach each and every task or responsibility by asking yourself: • Can I do this myself? • Is it really the other person’s responsibility? • Am I asking for something unrealistic? • Am I giving as well as I’m getting?
Consider who might be most appropriate to ask for help. If the help you receive is inappropriate for any reason, don’t make the helper feel bad. Ask the helper again, reminding them what it is you’re trying to achieve, or ask another person you explain what you need. Importantly, remember concise and unambiguous requests are best.
Don’t make people guess what you want or need. Be forgiving if you do ask and they forget your request. It happens. We have to be aware of, as well as accept, our limitations and strengths and we need the confidence to be able to share that information with anyone at any time.
Orientation and mobility
With minimal financial or time commitments, you can make it easier to move around your community independently and safely.
Orientation and mobility specialists can help you to learn useful skills through training in:
- How to use your remaining senses to determine where you are.
- Techniques for safe movement from one place to another. Instructional skills include:
- Sensory and motor development.
- Use of residual vision and low vision devices.
- Sighted guide techniques.
- White Cane techniques.
- Route planning.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Techniques for crossing streets.
- The use of public transport.
Some tips for travelling outside of your home are:
- Pre-plan your route by identifying landmarks that are easy for you to detect and use them as reference points.
- If a sighted guide will be required plan to organise this.
- Consider using public transport, taxi or Uber.
- If travelling by bus and are unable to read the bus timetable, almost all bus companies will have a customer help line. If you let them know you’re blind/vision impaired they’ll advise you how to get from A to B.
When moving around your community consider:
- Lighting (carrying a torch)
- Planning your journey to avoid hours of darkness or adverse lighting conditions such as late afternoon sun.
- Choosing the most navigable route, by selecting orientation landmarks that are easily identified by size, contrast, smell or terrain.
- Controlling glare by wearing appropriate sunglasses or visors.
- Being organised, preparing scenario plans, enlarged route maps, and phone numbers for assistance.
Leisure, recreation and sport
Participation in recreational activities, whether they are energetic and challenging or quiet and relaxing, is integral to our physical and mental wellbeing. There are a number of ways in which participation is made possible for people with a vision loss and a wide range of sports and activities can be enjoyed through adaptation, guides and equipment. For example:
- Tandem Cycling
- Martial arts
Contact your local sports association or vision support services to discover the range of options available near you.
We acknowledge Retina New Zealand’s work in preparing the guidance given above.