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 Angie Clawson at aclawson@cviga.org.

Tips for Gardening with a Visual Impairment

A photograph of fresh produce including carrots, raspberries, spinach, tomatoes and rosemary

Spring is officially here, which means it’s time to plant your garden! If you are living with vision loss, you might think gardening is something you won’t be able to do, but as with most things, you can do it with a few adjustments. The below tips come from an experienced gardener who is visually impaired.

Use Containers
Containers are a great way to store and grow herbs and vegetables without planting a traditional garden. This will make it easier for those with visual impairments, because of the inherent advantages that come with containers. For example:

  • They make identifying plants and seed locations easy.
  • They let you garden anywhere without digging garden beds.
  • They allow you to have the best soil, moisture, and growing conditions for a particular plant.
  • They make changing a plant's location easier.

Your container size will depend on what you want to grow. Large containers (five-gallon buckets, recycled trash cans, etc.) are great for things like tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, carrot and potatoes. Smaller containers (recycled cottage cheese containers, plastic take-out containers, etc.) are great for things like spinach and lettuce as well as herbs like basil, mint, oregano, parsley and chives.

Label Your Containers

  • If you use a notetaking system to help you remember what you planted and when, you can include the location as well.
  • Use labels in large print or braille to mark containers. The labels can be placed on the containers themselves or on markers made of wood or metal which can be bought from garden stores or made from popsicle sticks. Waterproof tape and markers can be used to create your own large print labels.
  • Marker plants can help you identify the contents of each container. Plants with a distinctive shape (like broccoli), scent (like basil), or supporting trellis (like tomatoes) can make good marker plants.

Choosing Plants

  • Explore new plant varieties and focus on each plant's sensory qualities.
  • For example, in addition to planting geraniums, also consider mint, lemon, lavender, a variety of roses, and plants with different textures and scents.

Sources: For more gardening tips, visit these two links below.

https://www.visionaware.org/info/everyday-living/recreation-and-leisure/gardening/tips-from-a-blind-gardener/1235

https://www.visionaware.org/info/everyday-living/recreation-and-leisure/gardening/tips-from-a-blind-gardener/1235

How to Set Goals with a Nutrition App

Photograph of a scale, apple and measuring tape.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay.

In March, Emory medical students continued their nutrition course series at CVI with a class on individual nutrition goals and plans. Emory students sat down with clients to register and begin working with MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a great (FREE) app that will help keep a record of the food you eat and the activity you do in order to keep you on track with your weight goals. Follow their steps below to get started:

  1. First, input your height, weight, sex, and age into MyFitnessPal to understand your individual calorie needs (this varies based on sex, age, weight, and general activity level). For example, a 50-year-old male weighing 150 lbs at 5’7” needs about 1800 calories to maintain a constant weight with a sedentary lifestyle. A 50-year-old female weighing 120 lbs at 5’3” needs only 1350 calories.
  2. Next, establish your weight goals. If you’re trying to gain or lose weight, experts recommend a goal of /- 1 pound per week. 1 pound is equivalent to about 3500 calories, or about 500 calories per day. In other words, if you’re trying to lose a pound per week, eat 500 fewer calories than you burn per day.
  3. Next, enter in the foods you eat. MyFitnessPal will calculate how many calories (and major nutrients) you get from these foods. Remember to be as specific as possible! 1 bowl of dry cereal is not the same as 1 bowl of dry cereal with a cup of whole milk and strawberries.
  4. If you exercise that day, MyFitnessPal will keep track of that too! It will estimate and subtract the calories you burn from activity from your daily goal.

Emory Medical Students Kick Off Wellness Project at CVI

In February, CVI kicked off a partnership with Emory Medical Students Tim Arleo, Priya Brito, Mia Callahan and Anjali Om to teach CVI’s adult clients about healthy living. They will be hosting a class once a month and teach class participants about general nutrition, how to grown their own vegetables and understand the importance of eating local, host a “Walk with a Future Doc” for clients to learn ways to stay active with visual impairment and lastly, they will end with a class on how to cook balanced meals and host a potluck for clients to showcase what they’ve learned!

The initial class in February focused on teaching the participants about general nutrition, including how to read food labels, calculate daily nutrient goals and navigate fast food. The first thing the Emory team recommended class participants do is figure out what their caloric needs are based on their height, weight, sex and activity level. Then, they suggested that the participants find a nutrition lifestyle that they can sustain. One helpful tip the Emory students provided is to follow the guidelines of MyPlate.gov. According to MyPlate.gov, a “healthy plate” should be filled with half fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains and a quarter protein and include lean meats, whole grains and leafy vegetables with high fiber. They also recommend opting for unsaturated fats like olive oil instead of saturated fats like butter and to limit portions to match calorie needs.

Finally, the students offered some tips on navigating eating out. They suggested making some healthy food swaps such as ordering grilled chicken instead of fried, asking for a whole wheat bun and cutting back on the amount of dressing used on a salad. These are examples of things we can all do to make healthier choices while eating out.

Next month, the Emory team will host a “Walk with a Future Doc” Event to help clients to meet their 10,000-step goal and talk about exercises available to the visually impaired.

St. Patrick’s Day Activity

March is here, which means spring is around the corner! Everything is turning green, especially for St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrate the luck of the Irish this year with a fun accessible activity for your little ones! Here we have instructions on how to make a shamrock scrapbook, courtesy of Paths to Literacy. For the scrapbook, you will need the following:

  • green card stock/scrapbook paper (enough for the cover and a few pages on the inside)
  • brailler
  • braille labels
  • St. Patrick's Day images
  • St. Patrick's Day stickers
  • system to bind (or a hole puncher and some string)

Cut the green paper into the shape of a shamrock. Using a glue stick, add some green glitter to the shamrock for some textile diversity. Allow the glue to dry. Cut the rest of your paper into the shamrock shape as well.

Make a list of words related to the day in braille (e.g. shamrock, green, March). Have them do the braille or provide support, as necessary.

Support the student to add braille labels to the pictures that relate to the day.

Create a collage using stickers or tactile materials, depending on the needs of your child.

Bind the book with a comb binding.

For more ideas, visit our friends at http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/topic/st-patricks-day. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Client Spotlight: Aracely Finds Her Confidence and Independence

Aracely speaking at CVI's Henderson Society Dinner 2019

At the age of three, retinal cancer claimed Aracely Rosillo’s eyesight. Her parents, who did not speak English, learned about the Center for the Visually Impaired’s BEGIN early intervention program and enrolled their shy toddler. Through the support and training from CVI’s highly trained staff, Aracely learned to walk, read and play and her parents learned to how to help her thrive in a sighted world.

Aracely continued with CVI’s programs through her teen years. She was active in STARS, a program for students in K-12 grades, where she learned independent living and social skills along with assistive technology, music and art. The once timid toddler grew into a self-assured teenager who loved swimming, talking on the phone and hanging out with her friends. Aracely credits STARS with helping her come out of her shell.

Aracely instructing a CVI client on how to operate an iron

“STARS has taught me to be active,” says Aracely. “I never wanted to sit in my room every day after school. Being social and having friends is much more fun than being the blind girl.”

Aracely has, literally, grown up with technology. Lessons in the STARS Technology Training Lab gave her the skills to efficiently and effectively use an array of technology tools at school and at work. She reads textbooks and takes notes using a refreshable braille display wirelessly connected to her smartphone. That same smartphone connects her to friends and family via social media, email and telephone and has apps that enable her to navigate and travel, shop, manage money and accomplish a wide range of other daily tasks independently.

Sadly, high schools students who are blind are twice as likely as their sighted peers to drop out of school. Even more troubling, only 9% of high school students with disabilities attend college. Because of CVI, Aracely’s story is different. Today, she is a sophomore at Georgia State University and works part-time in the STARS program and as an instructor of Activities of Daily Living for both the STARS students and adult clients. Her positive, outgoing attitude is contagious as she guides her students to live active and independent lives.

Fitness Challenge Participants Tackled Adaptive Rock Wall Climb

It’s been just over four months since CVI kicked off the Anthem/USABA Fitness Challenge and CVI’s participants are definitely becoming more active and challenging themselves to try new things. A great example of this was the recent “Try It” event we hosted in partnership with Catalyst Sports. Participants came out for an adaptive rock wall climb at Stone Summit Climbing & Fitness. None of them had ever done anything like it before. For a few, it seemed to come easily while others had to overcome some fear of heights, but they tried and that was the most important part. Everyone had such a good time that they’ve asked when we can do it again! Below are some of the photos from participants going to new heights for their health.

A group of CVI participants holding the USABA National Fitness Challenge banner

Lee climbing a rock wall

Anna, about to climb the rock wall, standing with an instructor

Miguel climbing a rock wall

Shelby climbing a rock wall

Valentine’s Day Activity for Kids

Submitted by Emily Pack, TVI, CVI Children & Youth Services

This week your kids are probably thinking about making Valentine’s Day cards for their classmates and a box to collect the ones they are given. If your child is blind or visually impaired, you may be thinking how can I make something with them that they and their sighted classmates will both enjoy? Well, we have a couple of suggestions that are fairly easy and will be fun to make.

Card:

The first is a card that any child will love from the website thinkingiq.com called “You Make My Heart Pop.” You can even attach a lollipop if you want for an extra “Pop.”

See below for the link to print the cards out and for the instructions. You may want to translate the cards to Braille as well!

https://thinkingiq.com/you-make-my-heart-pop-valentines-day-cards/

Directions:

Image of free Valentine's Day card

Print the Free Cards. [You Make My Heart Pop Valentine's Day Printable Cards]

Cut and attach bubble wrap with tape or glue.

Pass out and let kids pop away!

Valentine’s Collection Box

On the website for Paths to Literacy, we found a great Valentine’s Day Box you can make with your kids with instructions for making it both visually fun as well as tactilely fun! Below is the list of materials you’ll need plus the link to the directions.

Materials:

  • Box with a hole cut on top for their classmates to put the Valentine in. You can use a small cardboard mailing box or a shoe box – whatever you have around the house.
  • Tactile stickers: They can be found at the Dollar Store, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc.
  • Emoji’s: You print them off the computer or you can make them using stickers for the eyes and black foam pieces for the mouths so a visually impaired child can feel them.
  • Glue – liquid and stick both work.
  • Braille label paper.
  • Construction paper hearts.
  • Container/bowl.

http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/strategies/creating-accessible-valentines-day-post-box

Happy Valentine’s Day from CVI!

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

A CVI client getting a low vision exam

Have you ever wondered what it means when someone says they have low vision? Many of us probably think of an elderly family member who has a hard time reading or watching TV. It is true that most people with vision loss are age 65 or older, and with the population living longer, this age group is at an increased risk of experiencing eye diseases and age-related conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma and low vision. But, low vision can affect anyone at any age.

Low vision is a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery. What are some of the questions you should ask yourself or a loved one to determine if they are experiencing low vision?

  1. Do you have trouble reading the paper or watching TV?
  2. Is it a struggle to recognize faces?
  3. Are you having problems accomplishing daily tasks?

If you or your loved one answered yes to any of these, it might be time to learn about living with vision loss.

Rehabilitation services help people adapt to vision loss and maintain their quality of life through teaching them a wide range of skills. Individuals experiencing low vision begin the rehabilitation process through an evaluation. An optometrist performs an examination and outlines the current state of the person’s vision as it relates to visual field, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and general ocular health as well as several other areas.

The exam is followed by training with the occupational therapist (OT) who reviews the recommended assistive devices with the client and generates a plan of care specific to the individual’s needs. The plan facilitates independent use of each device to perform daily activities of life most effectively and as independently as possible. Devices such as large closed captioning televisions, small pocket magnifiers or audio equipment can all be used to assist someone with low vision needs.

In addition to a low vision evaluation and OT services, individuals who come to the Center for the Visually Impaired also receive assistance with vocational rehabilitation like orientation and mobility, computer training, and job placement support. It is our hope that each client departs the Low Vision Clinic with a wealth of information, assistive devices and a restored faith in their independence and quality of life.

In honor of Low Vision Awareness month, the Low Vision Clinic will be offering demonstrations by the Occupational Therapist on February 6 and 11 from 9 a.m. to Noon in the lobby of the Clinic. Stop by to learn more about living with low vision or services offered by the Low Vision Clinic. If you can’t make it by, learn more by clicking here or call us at 404-875-9011.