Surviving on the Blind Side

Blind Man With Dog
Loss of vision creates a whole new set of things to learn or relearn. Successful and joyful living after the loss of sight depends in large part on the person themselves and the resources available to them. This is a page about surviving on the blind side.

7 Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
March 3, 2011

blind_woman using assistive technology to vote.Here are a few more things I've learned over the last eight years since I lost my sight:

1. Get Training Early

I foundered for months until a cashier at our local Save-a-Lot mentioned the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI.) Since my goal was to get back to work, they were willing to get me some "personal adjustment" and other training. To my knowledge, every state has an organization like the BSVI to serve the needs of the blind.

I know a lot of people are impressed with my abilities today, but it's been a long road. I think I could be doing better. If you're losing your sight and you know it, ask your ophthalmologist or regular doctor how you can get training. You can also call the national Information and Referral service at 2-1-1. If they don't have the right number, perhaps they'll be a first step toward getting the right one.


You may also want to contact the National Federation of the Blind (NFB.) The national office is in Baltimore, MD. You can call 410-659-9314 with any questions. You can also email the national NFB President, Dr Marc Maurer at You'll be better off if you learn how to do things by non-visual means before you lose too much sight.

2. Be Ready To Figure Things Out For Yourself

No one really taught me how to fold paper money so I could identify it without help. I use a system I devised. If it's different from someone else's, so what? It works for me. Money isn't the only thing I've had to figure out for myself these past eight years. For example, I brush and dress my hair and butter my toast by a combination of visual memory and touch.

Another example is the tactile marks on appliances and such. Since I learned certain tactile symbols, I tend to echo them when I have a helper mark other items. Perhaps my techniques parallel those already established in the blind community, perhaps not. I've never asked. If one option doesn't work, try another until you find what works for you.


3. Be Prepared To Adapt On A Budget

I use mostly standard tools, sometimes with minor adaptations to make them more accessible to the blind. For example, I asked hubby today to mark his inaccessible cell phone so I'd at least know where to press to turn it off or answer a call.

4. Begin With Familiar Tasks

When I began trying to do more things myself, I had to think what was most familiar. If you were a good cook, you might want to start in the kitchen. (Remember safety, though.) If you were a "super-geek" as I've been for 20+ years, start there. In short, find your strengths, develop (or redevelop) them and branch out from there.

5. Be Bold, Be Brave

It was really hard for me to be brave for the first several months after I lost my sight. It isn't easy to be brave when you can't see what's around you! As I've adjusted and learned new ways to "see" what's around me, that fear has faded. Ironically, the loss of my sight also cured me of my lifelong fear of the dark, lol!

6. Avoid the Couch Potato Trap

I tried the couch-potato thing for a few months. I got bored with it pretty quickly. With some help and training, I soon discovered a variety of things I could do besides "veg" in front of the "boob tube." I won't name them here - the list would be too long!

7. Keep your Mind Sharp

I've been a Jeopardy addict for years. I still watch six nights a week if I can get it, and that includes Saturday reruns. The fast pace and difficult questions really get my brain moving! If Who Wants to be a Millionaire is your thing, go for it! You can also do any other game that sparks your fancy. Do anything to keep your mental faculties sharp, or sharpen them if they haven't been exercised much lately.

8. Retain Your Right to Vote

I've been a registered - and active - voter since I turned 18, about a zillion years ago, lol! I refuse to let a little inconvenience like blindness stop me from claiming my right to vote. Thanks to the NFB and the Help America Vote act, my precinct has an Automark electronic voting machine. Every voting precinct should have one. If yours doesn't, contact your local Board of Elections.

The Automark scans my ballot, reads and marks it for me. Then I take it to the tabulating scanner just like everyone else. When representatives from our local Board of Elections brought an Automark to a recent NFB meeting, even I learned something new - now I know how to write in a candidate, if the need ever arises.

9. Be An Information Sponge

The information-gathering issue sort of goes hand-in-hand with the voting issue. I keep up with local events and educate myself on national issues and can be a more effective voter via a variety of avenues. I regularly watch both local and national news. I read my local paper thanks to my free subscription to the Ohio Telephone Reader, a division of the Radio Reading service. I'm on Facebook – although I've found the Mobile site works better with my screen-reader.

Several of my Facebook friends post items of interest. If all else fails, I go to my favorite search engine, I like it better than Google for three reasons: first, pulls together information from more than a dozen other search engines. Second, I remember the cute beagle mascot, lol! Last but not least, is also much easier than Google for my screen-reader to translate. That's important to me.

10. "You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar."

This is actually a lesson I learned from my late mother years ago. An abrasive, demanding, argumentative personality just doesn't encourage people - whether friends, family or strangers - to help you when you're really in a pickle! "Please" and above all, "thank you," go much farther. Even when I was still in the nursing home and completely dependent, I used the manners Mom taught me. The aides and orderlies were surprised at first, but I know they appreciated it. I think I got better treatment as a consequence.

I hope these little peeks into "the blind side of life" are enjoyable and enlightening. I welcome all feedback and never mind questions!

Source: Personal experience, learning how to "be" blind in a sighted world.

By Lelia Jo Cordell from Springfield, OH

Read More Comments

Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
January 28, 2011

Here are just a few things I've learned over the last eight years since I lost my sight:

A blind man walking a path with a white cane.


Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
August 13, 2010

I can't outline every tool available for the blind today. However, I promised I'd write about the tools that make my life easier. I try not to adapt more than necessary, but I do need some things accessible. I wrap a bread tie around the handle of the gallon jug of tea or fruit drink.

phone keypad


Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
September 6, 2010

The English language with its wealth of idiomatic expressions makes the following deductions concerning the characteristics of the blind and their daily activities possible. Proof that we blind folk know how to laugh at ourselves!

caution sign, blind person walking with a cane


Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
October 21, 2011

I've noticed more than one of my TF family is experiencing vision loss. This article is for you.

A finger reading braille writing on a page.


November 17, 2010

On the weekend of the November 5-7, 2010, I was invited to my first National Federation of the Blind of Ohio convention. While there, I learned that there is so much that people who are blind can do and not to underestimate them.


August 9, 2016

This is a page about questions you always wanted to ask a blind person. Many of us are too shy to ask questions about a person's disability, even if we have a true interest or concern.

Woman's feet in sneakers near a curb holding a while cane with red marking.

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