How Adaptive Technology Helps The Visually Impaired Live, Work and Play

Magnification devices, personal assistants, white canes, signature guides, screen readers, braille displays and smartphones are all pieces of adaptive technology that help the visually impaired live, work and play. These low and high-tech gadgets and gizmos have enhanced people’s lives and increased independence. Some technology helps with daily living skills, others with mobility or accessing employment, entertainment or staying connected to friends and family.

Regardless of the available technology, there is something for everyone. Jan. 6 is National Technology Day so let’s explore some of the possibilities for people with vision loss.

Assess your technology needs.

Since there is a lot of technology to choose from, start by assessing your needs. What duties do you need to accomplish daily? What skills are you struggling with the most? What tasks have you quit doing because of vision loss but long to continue? Take some time and think about your life. Set some goals and objectives to help avoid intimidation and fear. Technology is here to help improve your life and enhance your independence. 

After your assessment is complete, start investigating the technology available. Talk to experts like Outlook Enrichment’s Adaptive technology trainers. They can assist you in weaving out various devices to find the best fit.

Talk to peers who are blind or visually impaired. They can share personal experiences and give recommendations. Attending Outlook Enrichment’s peer support group is a great place to start.

Technology helps you live.

Mastering daily living skills is key for people with vision loss. This includes cleaning, grocery shopping, organizing the home, marking and labeling items and personal hygiene. For example, many people with vision loss desire to get back into the kitchen  after a vision impairment. So, when cooking use low vision aids like high contrast cutting boards, measuring cups and spoons. As your confidence grows move on to higher technology like smartphone apps to read food labels and/or calling a personal assistant to read recipes. 

Travel and mobility is another part of daily living. Whether you are using a white cane or guide dog, the ability to commute freely with confidence is important. There are several navigational apps on your smartphone for traveling. Others, like Uber and Lyft, allow you to call up a ride through your smartphone and will transport you to your destination.

Technology helps you work.

People with vision impairment either want to maintain their employment or land that ideal job. Several jobs require skills using a personal computer. Learning how to use screen readers and magnification software helps you access employment opportunities.

Other jobs might require the use of smartphones or tablets. These devices are accessible with magnification and speech output. All of these devices can be connected to braille displays as well. Using adaptive technology is considered a workplace accommodation. Learn the technology tools you need and how to advocate for them to be successful at the job.

Technology helps you play.

People with vision loss want to have fun and access entertainment. Reading audiobooks, watching audio-described movies and TV programs, listening to music, and playing video games can be done with technology. You can tap into all these options either by using your smartphone, tablet, PC or personal assistant. One example is video streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, Prime Video, HBO Max and Disney Plus. These services are fairly accessible to the blind and also provide large volumes of content in audio description. 

People met and socialized via video conferencing verses in person during the pandemic. Initially, platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Slack were used primarily for work-related meetings but they have expanded into social activities. Virtual game nights, meet-ups, dinner parties, special celebrations and cocktail hours are all done over video conferencing, providing a way to stay connected to friends and family.

Technology impacts every area of our lives. It is critical that people with vision loss learn and access technology to maintain independence and quality of life. Contact Outlook Enrichment to learn more about how adaptive technology can help you live, work and play.