Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

CVI's SightSeeing Blog

Welcome to CVI's SightSeeing Blog! Here we discuss topics of interest and importance to the community.

Some of the information posted here includes personal stories from CVI clients, perspectives from CVI's expert staff, hot topic issues in government, the latest trends in technology for the visually impaired, and much more. Our desire is that this blog is a useful tool to enlighten, educate and provide needed information in a meaningful dialogue for both the blind and sighted communities. Join us as we invite you to share and discuss the topics with us.

Please note: Blog comments are not to be interpreted as a direct endorsement by the Center for the Visually Impaired. If you have any questions or comments regarding the blog posts, please send them to Lara Tillery at ltillery@cviga.org.

Appreciating Those that Teach People with Vision Impairments

Picture of orientation and mobility instructor with clientThis week, April 11-15, is observed as Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Appreciation Week. A VRT is an instructor who teaches independent living skills to people with vision loss. The role of the VRT is to provide instruction and guidance in adaptive independent living skills, enabling adults who are blind and visually impaired to confidently carry out their daily activities. Other job duties for a VRT include evaluating their client’s needs, developing individual plans, identifying resources, teaching problem solving and how to use adaptive equipment.

VRT Appreciation Week began as a way to increase awareness of the field and recognize the dedication of professionals within it. VRT Appreciation Week takes place in April to coincide with Anne Sullivan’s birthday on April 14. She is best known for being Helen Keller’s teacher. But it was not until last year that VRT Appreciation Week was changed from June. Here at CVI we have VRTs as part of our New View Adult Rehabilitation Program and want to say a special thank you for all your hard work and service. We appreciate your efforts to fulfill our mission of empowering those with vision loss to live with independence and dignity.

Originally VRTs started out as a charitable home-based program in the 1900s that provided instruction in reading Biblical scripture. These home teachers were mostly blind women who quickly realized that people with vision loss needed more than just religious instruction. They developed strategies and helpful hints that address communication skills, daily living skills and handy crafts. It was not until after World War II that rehabilitation teaching established as a profession. Through customized training VRTs now learn about low vision, the psychosocial aspects of vision loss, gerontology, multiple-disability challenges, daily living techniques, and indoor orientation skills.

Because VRTs are college-trained professionals who can address a variety of skills needed; their clients are more equipped to live independently at home, to become employed, and to participate in community activities. Here at CVI our teachers give individualized instruction in braille, meal preparation and cooking, financial management, emergency preparedness, in home mobility and orientation, and so much more.

Picture of ADL teacher with CVI clientI remember when I started working with a VRT some years ago; I learned some valuable techniques that I still use to this day. For example, she taught me how to pour liquids, like hot water from a tea kettle, without spilling it on myself or the kitchen counter. She also came up with a creative way for me to keep up with my scarves by using a plastic hanger with multiple pouches. I then braille labeled the pouches to correspond with the color of the scarf that was in it. We also worked on identifying money and labeling my home appliances. Learning these skills gave me a stronger sense of independence. It also encouraged me to learn more ways to handle my life activities such as paying my bills and grocery shopping.

Have you worked with a VRT? If so, what things did you learn from that experience? If you have not and you want to learn ways to be more independent contact CVI’s New View Adult Rehabilitation Program at 404-875-9011.

How to Use Uber

Last Tuesday on March 29th CVI hosted an Uber educational evening event. The goal was to help people with vision impairments learn more about the share ride service that has hit Atlanta in the last few years. At the event, we had two Uber representatives speak to over 50 people about the service, answer questions, address concerns and then spend some one-on-one time assisting people with the app on their smartphones. Additionally we performed a mini demonstration of calling up a ride in real time on both an iPhone and Android so that the participants could actually hear what it sounded like when interacting with the app. After the event was over several people shared how helpful they found it and were glad that they attended. But for those of you who could not attend, are interested in Uber or are not even sure what Uber is this blog post is for you.

So, let’s start at the beginning. What is Uber and how does it work? Well, let me explain. According to the Uber website in 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. So they came up with a simple idea to creat an app that could call up car service via a smartphone. Today, Uber is providing rides to people all over the place. Basically what happens is a person uses their phone to call up a driver for a ride. That driver is a contractor with Uber and is using their personal vehicle to pick the person up. Since the person is using an app on their smartphone no cash is being exchanged; it is all done via a credit or debit card. This is an option that I like the best because I don’t have to worry about carrying cash. Also, I have had problems with cab drivers not wanting to accept credit or debit cards when trying to pay for fares and don’t have that problem when I use Uber.

Empish holding new iPhoneThe app on the phone is a free download and is very easy to install. Additionally, the app is very accessible with smartphone technology. I use Voiceover on my iPhone and have very little problems accessing the app. The one challenge is that Uber does constantly update the app so I have to stay abreast of the new changes but once I swipe around the screen I can quickly get reacquainted again and check out the new features they have installed.

Once you have downloaded the app you can create your profile which includes your user name, password and credit card information. When you are ready to call up a ride you will have some options depending on the type of car you want to use. Uber X is the most popular and the most affordable. The car size can hold about 1-4 people and in Atlanta the fare starts a little over five bucks. I use this option the most and I find it a great alternative to when I want to go up the street for grocery shopping. I call it my five bucks for five minutes. My grocery store is about a mile or so away from my home and it only cost about $5 and takes about five minutes. A trip on my local Paratransit is $4 and can take upwards to 30-minutes or more. So Uber is a much better deal. Then there is Uber XL for a larger car, Uber Black and Uber SUV for luxury cars. These other options, of course, are much more expensive too.

When calling up your trip you can type in the location of where you are and your destination or you can use the GPS in your phone to do it. You can also creat two locations in your profile that you travel to frequently so that you don’t have to type them in all the time. For me I have my home and work address stored and then I just tap on them when I want to go to either one. It saves a lot of time and energy. Before your car arrive Uber will give you a fair estimate right there on the screen so you know up front if you want to pay the fare. This is an estimate because Uber can’t totally factor in traffic, congestion, accidents, bad weather or drivers who get turned around or lost. These factors can make the fare more. But I have noticed that the estimate does stay relatively close to what I actually pay in the end. One thing that is great about Uber is that if you don’t agree with your final fare amount you can dispute it. You will get an e-mail receipt that will give the breakdown of your fare. By replying to that e-mail and explaining why you don’t agree an Uber representative can review the fare and look in to it. Additionally, if there are problems with your driver that same e-mail can be used to address those issues as well. If you don’t want to use e-mail you can do all of this via your app too.

Picture of someone holding iPhoneOnce you have agreed to the fare the next screen on your app will show the name and picture of the driver, license plate number and make and model of the car. It will also give you an estimate of time that your driver will arrive to pick you up. If you want to contact the driver just tap on the driver’s name and you can either call or text. I like this feature because I can contact the driver and give special instructions, also let them know that I am blind and that I might need assistance to the car. I usually let the Uber driver know that so they can get out of the vehicle and come over and assist me and that way we don’t miss each other.

After you connect with your driver and get into the vehicle, it is a good idea to confirm the address of your destination. Sometimes information can get lost in the shuffle or drivers can get distracted or might not be familiar. So, just double-check. Your phone will indicate that you are in the car and then will give you an estimate of the time you will arrive to your destination. Once you arrive your phone will pull up another screen with the final fare and a rating for the driver. You can rate the driver from 1-5 and submit comments as well. Please note that if you want to tip the driver you have to do that via the Uber website. When you create your profile there is a place on the website to select the tip rate that you want.

Now a couple of key things to keep in mind. Uber does what they call surge pricing. This typically happens during peak times like rush hour or if the weather is really bad. The fare during this time can be multiple times the regular rate. Uber will tell you this in advance and will offer you the option to get a text message notice when the surge pricing goes down if you like. When I see the notice for surge pricing I usually will look at the fare and will compare Uber X with Uber XL to see how much of a difference it will be if I really got to get going. Or I will just wait until the surge pricing goes down. Or I will use their competitor, Lyft instead.

When it comes to guide dogs, Uber had gotten some heat in the past. Many people with guide dogs and service animals were having difficulty with drivers not allowing them to bring their animals on a trip. There was little recourse or information on the Uber site that a person could do if this happen to them. But today if you go to the Uber website and look under their Help section you will find updated information on service animals. Drivers are not allowed to deny you a trip and if they do you can report them to Uber.

One last key thing to remember is Uber offers corporate or business accounts. I have one of these as well. From time to time I have to travel for work here at CVI and instead of using cabs or hiring a driver my manager and I set up an Uber business account. When I get ready to call up a car I just have to be sure that I change the account option from personal to CVI on the screen of my iPhone so that the charge goes to the correct account. When I do that an additional screen pops up to fill out for the trip; but I skip it because it takes away from calling up the car. I just provide the documentation of the trip later on. After I have travel to the work function Uber not only sends me a receipt but my manager too. Then we send that to the accounting department for record keeping.

Now that I have shared with you how Uber works hopefully you have learned a little more about how it can be a viable transportation option. There are more features to Uber that I was not able to share such as Uber Pool, Uber VIP and split fare. But to learn more you can visit their website at www.uber.com.

Rules of the Road with Bioptic Driving

Picture of someone driving carA few weeks ago the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired held a webinar titled Rules of the Road: Bioptic Driving. The purpose was to provide information about the possibility of driving for people with low vision. When vision loss occurs, losing the ability to drive can be a stressful and hard experience. For some with low vision, driving may still be an option with the assistance of Bioptic glasses and training. Mary Ellen Keith, COTA, CDRS discussed what makes a good bioptic driving candidate. During the hour long webinar she shared about the evaluation process, the optical devices and the importance of training that enable some to remain behind the wheel.

Bioptic glassesEven though I am totally blind and therefore not eligible for Bioptic glasses, I found the webinar very interesting and informative. Keith was very knowledgeable and shared good information on Bioptics in a clear and concise way. She first explains what they were then talked about who was eligible for them. Just because a person has low vision does not mean they are automatically a good candidate. She mentions people with eye conditions like stargards, albinism, macular degeneration and rod cones were good candidates. But people who have conditions like glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa, were not because vision may not remain stable and peripheral vision might be too poor to drive

The other key thing she stressed the most was getting proper training. She gave tips and strategies on how to accomplish that successfully. She also shared that requirements for training and the overall process for Bioptics will vary from state to state. But the process can be between 6 months to a year from beginning to end so people must be self-motivated and persistent. If you are interested in Bioptics and want to learn more you can listen to this webinar on the Hadley website. Additionally, CVI’s Florence Maxwell Low Vision Clinic provides Bioptic evaluations to clients that qualify. For more information call 404-875-9011.

Pixar Films Now Accessible with Audio Description from Disney on Your Mobile Device

Audio described movies have been around a while. But for those that might not be aware an audio described movie provides extra verbal narration of visual elements happening in the film. It could be hand gestures, facial expressions, physical movements or a description of clothing and action happening in the movie. It describes things that a person with vision loss might not notice or realize. Typically, you can view an audio describe movie at home on your TV through a service provider like Comcast, Direct TV or a satellite station. You can also rent audio describe movies through Netflix, WGBH Media Access Group or other sources. You can also physically go to your local movie theater and watch an audio described movie with a special headset provided by the theater. But today another option is now available. Pixar Films are Now Accessible with Audio Description from Disney on Your Mobile Device.

Picture of Empish holding up cell phoneBy simply downloading the Disney Movies Anywhere app on your smartphone you can enjoy up to 16 Pixar films in audio description. Some of those movies are: Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, A Bugs Life, Monster, Inc., Finding Nemo, Monsters University, Inside Out and the Good Dinosaur. The Disney Movies Anywhere app is free but you have to have purchased the movies beforehand. That could be on a DVD, BluRay, Amazon, iTunes, Comcast or Netflix. In the future you will be able to use the app in your local movie theater and sync it with the latest movie.

The idea to create this app began at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California, and was taken on by the engineers at Disney. Additionally, they made sure to include the blind and visually impaired community. Back in December 2015, nearly 200 blind and visually impaired people gathered from the Bay area to beta test the app while watching the movie the Good Dinosaur. The feedback was very positive and helped Pixar to move forward with the development of the app.

Now that you have a little background on its creation let’s talk about how the app actually works. First, download the Disney Movies Anywhere App on to your iPhone® or iPad® running iOS 7 or above. Then activate “Audio Description” by going to the “Access” section under “Settings” in the Disney Movies Anywhere App. Once activated, you can find a list of movie titles through the Audio Descriptive (AD) button on the featured tab. You must decide in advance which of the 16 movies you want to see and have it on “pause” on a separate device. Then you can push the “Sync & Play Audio” button within the Disney Movies Anywhere App to initiate syncing and playback of the accompanying narration.

Picture of Empish using audio description equipmentSomething to keep in mind that I personally noticed when I tried to use this app. Since the app is just the audio description only and not the actual movie you want to be mindful of the timing between the app and the movie playing on the separate device. I tried the app with a movie on my DVD player. I had to put my movie on pause, fast forwarding through previews, while I pulled up the movie on my app and waited for it to sync first. It took a couple of minutes and then the audio description started immediately. Currently there is not a rewind or fast forward option just a pause button so if you don’t time it right with your movie the audio description might be off track.

This app is very new and work is being done constantly to improve it. Pixar is on the cutting edge and putting the control of audio description in the hands of the blind and visually impaired community. If you have downloaded the app and notice things that can be changed to make it better or if you have questions or concerns, Pixar wants to hear from you. They have set up a special feedback email address so that you can contact them. Just send an email to dmaappfeedback@pixar.com.

Now, let’s watch a movie! What do you think about having an app to watch audio described movies? Do you like what Pixar is doing? Do you think other movie studios will get on board and do the same? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below.

A List of the Best Android Apps for People with Low Vision

I recently read the February 2016 issue of AccessWorld where Shelly Brisbin gave a review of several apps for the android phone. In the article she took a look at some of the best apps for Android users with low vision. Her focus was on apps that support a low-vision Android user experience, and also make it possible to use a phone or tablet as a visual assistant. She cautions that there are many more accessible apps that work well with the TalkBack screen reader, and also provide great assistance for the visually impaired. You can find additional accessible apps by going to the community website, www.InclusiveAndroid.com. On the website members rate and review a wide range of Android hardware and software. But in the article the apps range from using your camera, scanner, magnifier, on screen keyboard and much more. Below I have listed five of the several apps listed; but to read more go to AccessWorld.

Picture of an Android phoneBefore Brisbin list the best apps she emphasizes the importance of knowing your Android OS. Android runs on such a wide array of devices that a number of versions are in circulation. This is important to pay attention to because not all accessibility features and apps are available on all OS versions. She notes that version 5, also called Lollipop, marked a particularly important gain for users with low vision. Lollipop (and its successor, Marshmallow) added the ability to invert the colors on your device screen, providing a dark background under light text and icons. If this is a feature you wish to use, or if you want to use apps that accomplish the same task, be sure you have Lollipop (or later) installed. Additionally, check your Accessibility settings to see whether the maker of your device has added options of its own. For example, Samsung has done this by offering their own keyboards and speech engines.

AMagnify from MPaja

AMagnifiy (free or $1.31, Android 2.2 or later) uses your device's camera to zoom in on what it is pointed at. Magnify text, freeze the image you've taken, and invert the magnified image. The paid version removes ads. You will find many magnification apps in the Google Play store. AMagnifiy is a great choice because it is both extremely simple to use and offers great features.

Smart Magnifier from Smart Tools Co.

Use Smart Magnifier (free, Android 2.3 or later) as a full-screen magnifying glass, or concentrate the enlarged area in a smaller section of the screen. Onscreen controls make it easy to zoom, auto-focus, freeze, and flip magnified images, or to use your device's LED flash to add more light.

A Better Camera from Almalence

Here's an example of an app with lots of features that's also easy to use. A Better Camera (free light version or $1.99 for full version, Android 4.0 or later) helps you take better photos with your Android device, and gives you access to a number of settings to help you focus on what you see in your viewfinder. A grid with bright, thick lines helps you center images and keep subjects aligned in the viewfinder, while large buttons surrounding the image area give you access to settings for burst photography, night mode, video, focus, ISO selections, and more.

from Exideas

Designed to help you type faster, and with as few fingers as possible, MessageEase (free, Android 2.2 or later) is an alternative onscreen keyboard for your device. You can use it instead of the default Google device keyboard, or you can launch it for specific tasks, like typing texts, and return to the usual keyboard when you're done. MessageEase uses large letters, arranged based on how frequently you're likely to type a particular one. The R key will be near at hand, while you might have to reach a bit to find the Z, for example. You can also customize the keyboard's layout and color scheme.

Shades, from Eyes-Free Project

Bright displays can be challenging for those with sensitivity to light. If you typically turn your screen brightness to a low setting, and still find that it allows too much light in, Shades (free) may be useful. It allows you to reduce the brightness of your screen below the typical level set by the hardware. As a side benefit, lower brightness saves battery life.

So now you have it! Here are some of the best apps for Android users with low vision. Do you use an Android phone? After reading this blog post was the list helpful to you? What other apps not on the list do you use?

Do You Know the Difference Between Ophthalmology and Optometry?

Editor’s Note: Although the Center for the Visually Impaired is a vision rehabilitation center and not a medical facility, we want our clients and the community we serve to be knowledgeable about medical terminology and conditions related to vision. So from time to time we will provide interesting information on this topic. Some people find the terms Ophthalmology and Optometry to be confusing or think they are the same. But there are differences between the two. The blog post below will explain those differences and has been provided by permission from VisionAware.org.

1. What is ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that specializes in the anatomy, function, and diseases of the eye.

2. What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and the prevention of eye disease. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats refractive, medical, and surgical problems related to eye diseases and disorders. Ophthalmologists are licensed by state regulatory boards to practice medicine and surgery, as well as deliver routine eye care. An ophthalmologist will have the initials "M.D." (Doctor of Medicine) or "D.O." (Doctor of Osteopathy) after his or her name.

Picture of CVI client, Angeline, getting an eye exam. 3. What does an ophthalmologist do?

Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Ophthalmologists treat eye diseases, prescribe medications, and perform all types of surgery to improve, or prevent the worsening of, eye and vision-related conditions.

4. How is an ophthalmologist educated and trained?

In addition to four years of medical school and one year of internship, all ophthalmologists spend a minimum of three years of residency (hospital-based training) in ophthalmology. During residency, ophthalmologists receive specialized training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Often, an ophthalmologist spends an additional one to two years training in a subspecialty, or a specific area of eye care, such as glaucoma or pediatric ophthalmology. All ophthalmologists are required to fulfill continuing education requirements to stay current regarding the latest standards of care.

1. What is optometry?

Optometry is a vision care specialty that is concerned with the health of the eyes, the visual system, and related structures.

Up close picture of an eye. 2. What is an optometrist?

An optometrist is a health care professional who specializes in function and disorders of the eye, detection of eye disease, and some types of eye disease management. An optometrist conducts eye examinations, prescribes corrective contact lenses and glasses, and diagnoses and treats eye diseases and disorders.

Optometrists are licensed by state regulatory boards that determine their scope of practice, which may vary from state to state. An optometrist will have the initials "O.D." (Doctor of Optometry) after his or her name.

3. What does an optometrist do?

Optometrists are trained to examine the eyes for visual defects, diagnose problems or impairments, prescribe corrective lenses, and provide certain types of treatment. Many (but not all) U.S. states have passed legislation that allows optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures, such as laser treatment; administer injections, such as local anesthesia or treatment for macular degeneration; and prescribe additional diagnostic, therapeutic, and oral medications. Visit the American Optometric Association website to determine if your state permits optometrists to perform these additional procedures.

4. How is an optometrist educated and trained?

Prior to admittance into optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Optometrists then complete a four-year postgraduate program in optometry school to earn the Doctor of Optometry degree. Some optometrists go on to complete one- to two-year residencies with training in a specific sub-specialty area, such as pediatric or geriatric eye care, specialty contact lens, ocular disease, or neuro-optometry.

All optometrists are required to fulfill continuing education requirements to stay current regarding the latest standards of care.

*Low Vision Specialist--Many optometrists and some ophthalmologists have additional credentials or specialization in low vision testing, diagnosis, and treatment, and are trained to conduct low vision eye examinations and prescribe special low vision optical devices. If you're experiencing significant vision loss, a low vision specialist can determine whether special optical and non-optical devices, improved lighting, or other types of specialized services and equipment can help make the best use of your remaining vision. If this applies to you or someone you know contact CVI’s Florence Maxwell Low Vision Clinic for an appointment at 404-875-9011.

To learn more about Ophthalmology and Optometry check out these resources:

American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Optometric Association

Why We Hide

Editor’s note: Jenelle Landgraf and her sister, Joy, are identical twins who have grown up with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). They created the Doublevision blog to show that there is no right way to go blind. Below is a post that has been reprinted by permission dated October 2015, from their blog.

BAM! Blindness Awareness Month is coming to a close, and we have a hot topic to discuss.

Picture of JenelleJoy and I used to think we were the only ones who tried to keep our vision loss a secret growing up and even into adulthood. Then we started this blog, and we heard from so many people with similar stories of trying to hide the fact that they couldn’t see. And then we read the books “Not Fade Away” and “Now I See You”, and discovered still more stories of cover-ups, secrecy, and shame over vision loss.

While it was comforting to learn that we were not alone in choosing to hide our vision loss, it also made us wonder…How many people have tried to hide their low vision at some point in their lives? And why?

Just to be clear, we’re not condoning hiding vision loss, nor are we condemning it. We’re exploring the reasons behind it.

We couldn’t find any statistics on this online, so we created our own unofficial survey online. We didn’t have a budget for this survey, so we had to rely on what SurveyMonkey would allow us to do for free, which was 10 questions to 100 people.

We posted the survey on a few blind and visually impaired Facebook groups and had 100 responders within a couple days, which provided us with a small snapshot to begin our exploration.

One of the survey questions we asked was – Have you ever tried to hide your vision loss from others? 58% of individuals surveyed marked “Yes”.

After tallying the results, we proceeded to do some follow-up work, and asked people within different online visually impaired communities their reasons for hiding in the past or present. Some of their answers included:

  • Talking about it hurt too much
  • I was afraid I would lose my job
  • I don’t want co-workers to think I can’t do my job
  • I didn’t want to seem different or strange
  • I don’t want to have to explain anything
  • I’m afraid people will treat me differently
  • I thought my boss would doubt my abilities
  • I was embarrassed

Over the years, a lot of our family and friends asked us why we weren’t more open about our vision loss growing up and into young adulthood. “What is there to be embarrassed about?” they would question, “It’s not like you did anything to cause this.” For a long time, it was difficult to express a reason in words. We now know that a lot of the reasons we hid stemmed from shame and fear. We have wondered where this shame and fear originated, and while we can figure out pieces of if within our stories, it wasn’t until very recently that we considered some of it might be coming inadvertently from culture.

We both recently read For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind, a book intended for the sighted, which we will review on our blog in November. We bring it up now because it fits into the discussion of culture’s influence on the blind. The author, Rosemary Mahoney, explores the prejudices that exist in other parts of the world, primarily Tibet and India.

Though her observations took place in developing nations, where blindness is often equated with evil sorcery, Joy reached out to the author to ask her opinion on the prevalence of cultural prejudices in the U.S. Joy ‘s original message to Ms. Mahoney was out of personal curiosity, but when she read her response, Joy realized that it fit with our exploration of why we hide.

“Blind people are not outwardly shunned in the US, but there is a whole conscious and even subconscious prejudice here against blindness that comes out of fear. Fear comes out of a lack of information. Blindness is the most feared physical affliction in the US after only AIDS and cancer, yet in the US we have one of the lowest rates of blindness in the world. That statistic reveals a very entrenched mindset about blindness. We aren’t really exposed to blindness on a daily basis the way people often are in developing countries, so we don’t know much about how blind people live. The not knowing is what prompts our fear.”

So, after reading this blog post what do you think? Do you think that people with vision loss try to hide their vision impairment? If so, why? Do you think it is entrenched in American culture to be afraid of the blind? Do you think that contributes to why people hide their vision loss? Share your comments and thoughts with us and let’s chat about why we hide.

Visually Impaired Mom Gets Travel Tips From Those That Have Been There Done That

Picture of Vivian and kids with Olaf from the movie FrozenOK. Here it goes. I am a client at CVI in the New View Adult Rehab Program who has just finished Orientation and Mobility training and wanted to share a little of what I've learned. The most important, is to ask those who have "Been there, done that”. If you will be patient with me I will explain. Let me start by giving my reasons for taking O&M training. I moved to Georgia from New Jersey in 2013 because I wanted a better life for my three beautiful, energetic boys. I was lucky enough to have the support of my family and have a friend who moved here for the same reasons. She is also visually impaired so understood my concerns. However, her children are older and therefore share different interests. I wanted to know how to get to the Georgia Aquarium; The Museum of Puppetry Arts; The Georgia Zoo; Lego Land Discovery Center etc...

The first place I learned was how to get to the Georgia Aquarium. "There are several ways to get to the aquarium," my friend said. However as a mother, herself, she knew safety was my top concern. She asked when I would be going and what time I would most likely leave. I explained how we like to “close a Place down.” She went on to say that it would be best to walk to Baker and take an immediate left without crossing Baker at that point because the streets on the opposite side are broken and not well lit. I was to cross Baker when I reached Olympic Park and then cross Olympic Park. The Aquarium would be on my right. I was to take the same route to go back home. Since then I have learned other ways to get to the aquarium but my friend was right. This is the best way for me to go and also the safest.

Picture of Vivian and her 3 young boysJust because this works for me, does not mean it will be the same for you. There is a lot of walking involved in using this rout which is why I encourage all to ask a few people who have "been there, done that". Tell them what you are looking for when you travel. Also, it is beneficial to seek out one who will understand your situation. I asked a fellow mother who knew my concerns. Safety is the most important when traveling with children. Another point is to decide if it’s even worth taking the trip yourself. Is it better to take MARTA Mobility or Uber? Sometimes this may be a better solution. There are many ways to get where you want to go. Remember, as long as you are honest with yourself, you are your greatest and most reliable traveling companion. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you and as always, Happy Trails to all.

So, how do you travel? There are always multiple ways to get around and which ways do you find the best? If traveling with children how do you travel? Do you walk; use public transportation, cab, Uber, friends or family? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.