by Dan Roberts
Updated July 2005
One of the most common concerns of the vision-impaired is how to keep busy. People who are used to filling their days with lots of activities often find it difficult to replace those hours with things that don’t require good eyesight.
I posed this problem to the people in our Internet community, and some wonderful ideas came of it. Here they are in no particular order, straight from men and women who have found ways to remain vital and productive in spite of their impaired vision. We hope you will benefit from our experience.
Purchase descriptive videos, which include narration to accompany the movies. For information, contact Descriptive Video Service in Boston at 800-333-1203.
Listen to National Public Radio. Learn about it here.
Listen to books and periodicals on tape. To find distributors, see the resources section of this site.
While listening to those tapes, do something physical to stay in shape. Floor exercises, weight lifting, stretching, or yoga will improve your body while you entertain your mind.
Enroll in low vision rehabilitation training for help in maximizing your capabilities. Medicare will usually pay for this. For information, contact your state’s agency for the blind, which you can find in the resources section of this site.
Join a live support group. To find one in your area, call your low vision specialist or contact one of your state agencies for the blind. You will find them listed in the resources section of this site. If there isn’t one near you, why not start one? MD Support will help through its International Low Vision Support Group.
Join an email support group. MD Support hosts the largest on the Internet for people with macular degeneration and related diseases. Learn about MDList.
Attend concerts, lectures, book readings, etc. Your church, parks department, or senior citizens group may offer group outings to events such as this.
Start a garden.
Take a class in water aerobics, meditation, or body conditioning.
Become active in your church.
Tape record your life history for your grandchildren.
Take classes in Braille. It will open up a whole new world to you. For more information on this and other long-distance courses offered by the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Ride a tandem bike or go canoeing with your spouse or a friend.
Learn to play a musical instrument by ear.
Cook and bake. It may take longer than it used to, so be patient and enjoy the moment.
Go for walks with other people or a pet.
Do large-print word search puzzles and crosswords. If you want to play online, go to google.com and type “crossword puzzle” or “crossword” in the search box. You’ll find lots of them!
Do jigsaw puzzles. You can find puzzles to play on your computer at www.brainsbreaker.com. (There is a one-time fee to download the program.)
Play bingo using large print cards.
Purchase a CD that identifies bird songs. It’s a perfect way to continue enjoying “bird watching.”
When traveling, play CDs of music relating to that area/country. Replay it later to remind yourself of the trip without having to view pictures.
Like golf? You don’t have to give it up if you have someone to play with. Most of the game is physical skill, not eyesight. Ask your playing partner to line you up with the ball (if you can’t see it well enough) and then tell you about any potential hazards and the distance you need to cover. The rest is up to you. (And remember to buy your partner a drink at the clubhouse after the game, win or lose.)
Most important of all, nurture friends and family members. Not only do they provide much-needed emotional support, but they are probably very willing to take turns driving you around to all of those things you are going to get involved in.
This is only a partial list. If you would like to contribute your own ideas, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!