It's Disability Pride Month, and as our society continues to engage in conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion, it is important to highlight accessibility. This article was created after a recent conversation with a family member who identifies as being legally blind with macular degeneration. Today, we will highlight ways to support a loved one experiencing vision loss or blindness -from learning about accessible tools to adopting new support strategies.
1.) Be there for your loved one as a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Being supportive starts with being present in your loved one's life and showing them that you care. The loss or change in visual ability can feel incredibly isolating for the person experiencing it. If your loved one is facing vision loss or total blindness, make sure they know that they are not alone.
2.) Support your loved one in connecting with your State and County services for the Blind. For example, the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) provides training, counseling, and support to help Washington residents of all ages who are blind or experiencing vision loss in pursuing employment, education, and independent living.
3.) Educate yourself about vision loss and how it affects people. Visit your local library or utilize the internet to understand what your loved one is going through and how you can best support them. A helpful resource to check out is VisionAware's Getting Started guide, which was created specifically for people new to vision loss.
4.) Ask them how they would prefer you to provide support or allyship to help them on their journey. Don't assume you understand all of your loved one's needs as their ally. Understand that sometimes your loved one may want your help to advocate on their behalf and that, other times, being an ally is about making safe spaces for your loved one to express their feelings and experiences.
5.) Stay aware of helpful tools to support your loved one. We've created a short list of 4 of our favorites phone apps:
- Be My Eyes app: a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
- Seeing AI: A free app that narrates the world around you, now available in Italian, Turkish, Dutch, German, French, Japanese, and Spanish.
- Microsoft Soundscape: A free app that uses 3D audio technology to help people who identify as blind or with vision loss to visualize their current surroundings.
- Audible: provides over 150,000 downloadable recorded books, with most major titles released the same day as the printed version.
We hope this article has given you some ideas on how you can support your loved one; feel free to share more resources in the comment section below.
Written by: Christina Blocker (she/her)
Christina Blocker is the CEO and founder of Momentum Professional Strategy Partners - a full-service DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility) consulting firm. Christina spent a substantial portion of her career specializing in public relations, diversity & inclusion strategy, and community engagement for high-growth organizations and has been recognized by influential leaders due to her work as a former political consultant.
Throughout the years, she has worked with mission-driven clients such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Washington Environmental Council, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington State Department of Health. Because of her extensive experience, Christina pours her expertise into Momentum by working with clients to drive measurable change through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.