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Ten Things to Do with a Blind Companion

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a blind man and a girl sitting on a bench
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Someone recently asked me what I like to do. I didn't have an answer then, but I've been thinking about it. I'm not into extreme sports like skydiving or mountain climbing, but I have read of blind people who do those things. Here are some ideas for the rest of us:

Read to Them: Hubby reads things to me, but I have a friend whose weekly aide has to do it because her family won't. Reading things (medicine labels, cooking directions, the mail, the newspaper - especially the comics, etc.) is a truly thoughtful thing to do for anyone with major vision loss. Please be patient if your companion wants to take notes in a more accessible format!

Make Things Accessible: I received an audio book last Christmas that I only recently had time to read. To my distress (but not surprise), the individual cassettes weren't marked in an accessible manner. Most things can easily be made accessible with the addition of tactile or Braille markings or stickers. It's always a kindness to label things so your blind companion can use them independently next time.

Cook Together: As I mentioned in "Tools That Help the Blind Today,"; many blind people use standard tools with ease. As a cook, what I need most often is a reader, especially if it's a new or complicated recipe. There are several meals hubby and I cook together, and it's loads of fun. One of my activities while learning cooking skills was to make Toll House cookies. I'd gladly make them again - yum!

Walk, Hike, or Go Biking Together: Not every blind person wants or needs a sighted guide to venture into the wide world. However, I'm grateful for a walking companion. In inclement weather, the local mall is fun. I haven't explored seriously, but there are ways to bike in tandem with a blind person, too. Remember to describe/narrate your route and always warn your companion of hazards.

Go For a Drive: This might not work for many, with the high gas prices these days (yes, I still keep track). However, a simple drive can be a small adventure with your blind companion. Name landmarks and street names along your route; it'll help your companion enhance his or her mental map of the area.

Go To the Library or a Museum: Libraries offer a variety of services free of charge. These include a wide variety of videos, DVDs, and audio books. Many museums, especially in larger cities, offer descriptive tours for the blind. They may even allow your companion to touch sculptures. Call and ask.

Go To a Play or Concert Together: I attended a recent performance of "Annie" with live descriptions. It was fun, even though the system wasn't working well and the narrator interrupted the play's dialog many times. I can usually figure out what's going on during a play, even without descriptions. Concerts are even better. Even high school and college repertory events are great. They're also much less expensive. If opera or the symphony is your thing, more power to you!

Go Shopping or Run Errands Together: Hubby does most of our shopping these days, but that doesn't mean I can't. You don't have to go to the ritziest stores, thrift shops are great. And you don't have to buy a thing to enjoy browsing. Your blind companion might even open your eyes to nuances of textures, aromas, etc. that you might not otherwise have noticed. Even grocery shopping can be a new experience, seen from your blind companion's viewpoint.

Go Boating, Fishing, or To the Beach: For folks in landlocked areas, visiting your favorite swimming or fishing hole with a blind companion can make it a whole new experience. If you live on a coast, beach combing can be loads of fun. Let your blind companion show you the differences in the seashells you might miss. Enjoy the scents and sounds from your companion's unique perspective.

Pamper Yourselves Together: It's been several years since I've entered a beauty parlor, but I always enjoyed the sense of being utterly pampered. Spas and massages are great if your budget is more flexible. Your local beauty college or vocational school can offer trims, styling, manicures, pedicures, etc, at more reasonable prices. Pampering on a budget is still pampering!

I have to stop here to keep to my "ten things" limit. Watch for a sequel soon!

By JustPlainJo from Springfield, OH

Editor's Note: Here is a link to the article that was mentioned above.

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By ldaniels197909/29/2013

Hi I work with people with behavioral issues and one them is blind and is 33 years of age. We are looking for some fun things to do with him besides playing with board games, swinging, and riding. Give us a few pointers, they are really needed especially any kind of games that are suitable for his age and disability?

By Lelia Jo Cordell [49]11/01/2010

Thanks, Deeli. My personal goal is to give sighted folks an idea of how to help anyone they know who experiences vision loss. It was brought home to me even more this past August when I learned my sister's husband is blind because of diabetes. Sometimes I feel like the only blind person in the world, lol!

By Anonymous [848]10/28/2010

As always, I love your sharing information and tips that are helpful for the blind and the sighted alike! :-)

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