Bradford and Bryan Manning, were diagnosed with Stargardt’s  (a form of macular degeneration) at a young age.  They have since started a clothing company, “Two Blind Brothers” that profits help with finding a cure for blindness.  Something I thought was awesome, is they have Braille incorporated in all of their clothing.

Here is a clip from Ellen talking about their clothing line and how they got started.

I thought I would switch things up a bit and instead of posting about what other places were doing or events going on, I’d talk about myself.  This week I celebrated 10 years at RCIL.  Crazy to think how far I’ve come in those 10 years professionally and personally.  The older blind program that I run has also grown so much (in 9 years) from 15 counties to 32 counties. Recently, I have been working on becoming more efficient with Braille.  I passed the first course (Hadley) with flying colors and just starting the next course. (Any Braille users out there with tips let me know!) I also recently took a beginning JAWS class.  So, though I’ve had this job for many years I know I’ll never know it all or enough.  I’ll always be looking forward to learning that next thing to help my consumers.

Be on the lookout for updates coming soon about independent living classes for persons with vison loss and low vision fairs.  If you have any questions about Braille, JAWS, or the older blind program feel free to email me at amanda.smith@rcilinc.org

As I get ready to get in the car for today’s appointments, I thought I would take this rainy morning to remind everyone of iKan-RCIL.  iKan-RCIL is a program for those who are 55 years and older and have a vision loss caused by such conditions as Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and many more.  This program is often referred to as the “older blind program”.   The person does not have to be totally or “legally” blind but the condition causing the vision loss must affect their daily living to qualify for services.  The iKan-RCIL program covers 32 counties which are listed below and if you are interested in a county not listed email Amanda Smith and I’ll get you the contact information. iKan-RCIL coverage includes: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Coffey, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Labette, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson counties.

I visit individuals at their home and teach them skills or give them technology to live as independently as possible with their vision loss.  To qualify for this service you must live in one of the mentioned counties, be 55 years or older and have a vision loss. There is no cost to participate in this program and if you or someone you know is interested they can email Amanda Smith or call at (785) 528-3105.

February is Low Vision Awareness month so I’d like to share some knowledge on this topic.

1.) Low vision is a vision loss that makes it difficult to accomplish visual tasks even with the best possible correction, but with the potential for use of available vision, with or without optical or non-optical compensatory visual strategies, devices and environmental modifications.
In other words, even with glasses, contacts, surgery, etc. the person does not have enough vision to do daily tasks. But with use of some tools/skills the person may be able to complete these tasks.

2.) People with low vision may label themselves as blind, legally blind, visually impaired, partially sighted or many other terms.
In order to be deemed legally blind by a doctor, the person’s vision when best corrected (wearing glasses, contacts, after surgery, using medication, etc.) is 20/200 or less or has a visual field of 20 degrees or less. 20/200 means that a person with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet, that person can see at 20 feet. A visual field of 20 degrees or less can be demonstrated by putting your hand out in front of your face in a fist and only the area blocked by the fist would be visible.
People who are blind can be spilt into two groups – light perception and no light perception. Our society stereotypes that people who are blind only see darkness. This is not true; many can see light, different shades of color, shadows and or shapes.

3.) Low vision devices include everything from computer software, handheld magnifiers, video magnifiers, scanners, binoculars, monocular and many other items.
Most the time, when people think of devices that help people complete daily tasks, they think of high priced electronic equipment. That is not always the case. A rubber band can aid a person in detecting which can of food they are needing out of the cabinet. A raised bump can identify which medication the person needs to take in the morning. A piece of cardboard cut correctly can help a person with low vision fill out a check to pay their bills.
Some tasks people do by using mostly their vision, people with low vision have to unlearn using their vision and rely on other senses in order to complete these tasks. One example would be to use your hearing for the beeps while on the elevator instead of watching the number move above the elevator door.

4.) The term low vision is very broad and encompasses many people with many different types of vision loss. The most common causes for low vision in the United States included age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Most of these diseases do not affect people until they are 45 years or older but that is not always true. There are forms of macular degeneration that affects children, infants can be born with cataracts, and if a person has been diagnosed with diabetes in their early years they can end up with Diabetic Retinopathy at an early age as well.

Please have your eyes checked annually especially if you are 45 years or older and make sure your eye doctor is checking your eyes for common diseases.

RCIL will host two independent living classes for people with vision loss in Pittsburg next month.  The first class with be November 1st and will cover self-care, transportation, cooking and shopping.  November 8th is the second class and reading, writing and over all assistive technology will be covered.  Both classes will run 1:00pm-3:00pm and will be held at the Via Christi Village (1502 E. Centennial Dr.).

For anyone who registers ahead of time and/or attends both days will be entered into a drawing for a prize.  To register or if you have questions contact Amanda Smith at (785) 528-3105 or amanda.smith@rcilinc.org.

Look for more information in the upcoming weeks for other locations that classes will be held.

Pittsburg November 2017

Disclaimer: I am not speaking on behalf of anyone I am just paraphrasing a few conversations I have had with some consumers and friends with vision loss.

Blindness and low vision are not that common (thank goodness).  But there are still many people who have vision loss.  I’ve said in a blog before unless you’ve known someone with vision loss the only thing people know about blindness or vision loss is what they have seen portrayed in the movies and or in media.  I would like to clear up some myths and shed some light on some issues.

1. Not all people who use a white cane are totally blind. – First off, totally blind means a person has no usable sight.  So some people who use a white cane may still be able to see some.  They may be able to see: colors, the sun and/or light sources, shapes, etc.  They may not be able to see: holes in the ground, cracks in the sidewalks, curbs, steps, faces/people, street signs, etc.  They are using a cane to identify the information they are unable to see and protect their body from injury.  A white cane also allows drivers to identify persons with vision loss. Kansas does have the “White Cane Law” (Statute 8-1542) which states: blind pedestrian’s right-of-way – the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any blind pedestrian carrying a clearly visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog.  http://acb.org/whitecane

2. It is called a White Cane – It is not called a stick! When I hear people calling a white cane a stick its like hearing nails on a chalk board.  A cane is a mobility tool and that is what a white cane is.  It is a tool that enables a person with a vision loss to maneuver their environment safely and efficiently.  Do not touch a person’s white cane unless you ask them or they ask for you to.

3. Just because a person can not see does NOT mean they can’t hear or speak – When you are out or possibly at work and you encounter a person who is blind that person make sure you speak to them in a normal voice.  Do not ask/talk to the person beside the person with vision loss about the person with vision loss’s needs!

4. Just say hello! –  When you see someone using a white cane and they are walking towards you on the sidewalk or coming close to where you are standing…  Just say “Hello”!  Don’t jump out of the way.  Don’t get off in the grass (unless very narrow sidewalk).  Just say hello.  That’s all you have to do.

5. Use your words – Here in the Midwest we are nice people (most of the time).  We open doors, say hello, and help people when we can.  So if you do these things for a person who has a vision loss make sure you say what you are doing, can do, would like to do.  For example: “Hi there! I’m holding the door open for you, go ahead.”  “Would you like help finding the front door?”  “Be careful down the hall you are walking in.  There is a wet floor sign by the fourth door and a large puddle that takes up most of the hallway.”  Remember saying things such as “Its right there”, “Look out”, “over there” and so on are not helpful for people who can not see.

6. Being Independent means different things to different people –   I work with individuals who have vision loss.  This vision loss can range from hard to read prescription bottles to totally blind with no light perception.  When I work with these individuals I teach them skills so they are able to live their life “as independently as possible”.  For some people “as independently as possible” may mean they are able to do everything on their own: cook, clean, find transportation, etc.  For others “as independently as possible” may mean they have assistance with a task such as vacuuming, laundry, etc.  Neither of these is better than the other, it’s what works best for each individual.

 

 

Though January is almost over there is still time to learn about Glaucoma.

  • Currently over 3 million people in the United States have Glaucoma
  • It is estimated that half of those people don’t know they have it
  • There is no symptoms and once vision is lost it is permanent
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of PREVENTABLE blindness
  • It is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans
  • There are multiple types of glaucoma most affect middle age but it can occur at any age
  • Best way to protect yourself is yearly eye exams

There are many resources available for more information.

http://www.glaucoma.org/news/glaucoma-awareness-month.php

https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/gam

https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/programs/glaucoma/keep-vision-in-your-future-toolkit-download

https://nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/nehep-pdfs/GlaucomaFactSheet_2015.pdf