Matching clothes

As we live in a sighted world, appearances and fashion counts. Being blind or visually impaired doesn’t mean you wear unmatched clothes or weird colors that can’t go together. Lack of eye sight should not prevent you from applying new techniques to achieve this purpose. I often get compliments about how I dress well and match my clothes nicely.
In order to match your clothes, you should be familiar with the basics of matching colors. Even if you can’t see completely, you should know which goes with which. It is always good idea to match bright with dark colors. For example, it is so common to match brown with beige, or blue with aqua. Black color goes with everything. You can wear jeans with all colors too.
In developed countries, agencies and centers for the blind provide systematic instructional programs aiming at teaching the blind how to label and match their clothes.
On the contrary, in developing countries, people with visual impairment rely mostly on intuitions and bits of information they acquire from dedicated sighted people around them. So how do blind people match their clothes?

Some blind people use – devices to detect and identify colors.
These devices range in features and costs.
You can find a review of some of these devices at
I am not sure how accurate those colors identifiers are especially when you have different colors in one piece of clothes.
In addition to this, other blind people use low-cost or no-cost methods to differentiate their clothes.
Some visually impaired differentiate their clothes by style or texture; however, others use color labels and they attach them to their clothes, they are usually removable and they are not affected by the washing-machines.
Some people like to use safety pins to label and identify things like their socks to avoid confusing them. Beads are sometimes used for clothes identification, for instance, every clothes that have two beads match in colors.
Those are some common techniques used for clothes matching and color identification, you can come up with your technique too as blind people are usually creative when it comes to their ways of adaptation.


The kitchen: no, so scary!

Dealing with the kitchen is not as challenging or dangerous as it seems to be for some people. I feel very sad when I know that a blind person is scared to use the stove to cook, or to use the knife to make some salad. For me, this is not acceptable and unjustifiable especially if we need to be independent and live our lives as anybody else does. Don’t take me wrong thinking that this post is for females, it is not the intention at all. Every single blind person should be acquainted with the kitchen, at least he / she should be familiar with the basics.
Some blind individuals are scared to use the stove, they think it is dangerous. It may be dangerous if you are not careful enough and you are not sure about your safety, however, if you take it step by step, you will be fine.

How can you overcome this scary feeling?
First, you should know that nobody will serve you, if you have somebody now to do the job for you, that person may not be available at a certain time. Some of them say to me, no problem we can deliver. Aha, you can do this if you really have enough money for 3 meals a day, 90 meals a month, 1080 meal per year. This is in case you don’t have any dependent that needs to eat too. I think it is crazy to deliver all the time like this.
You also sometimes want to eat something that is not being delivered in your area, or if you live overseas and you miss your home food.
In addition, other people already do it and they are still a live; so why not you!
Many blind individuals cook very well. They also can give you nice techniques about handling different issues of cooking, or organizing their kitchen.
I still think that this is the responsibility of the family to teach their blind children to deal with the kitchen. Even if your child is blind, he / she shouldn’t be pampered and become lazy and dependent!

Applying makeup: is it really possible?

Many people wonder how a blind woman can put makeup. It is  even difficult for a sighted person to manage this,  it needs an extra  concentration and attention. In addition, it can’t be done without looking at  the mirror to make sure that things are going well. A blind woman is like any  other woman, she wants to be beautiful, she wants to be attractive, and she  needs to be seen as a different woman by her special one. I am aware of this  fact although those of you who know me in person, they know that I don’t put  makeup. It is just my weird attitude in life that I want to be as real as  possible lol. There is a difference between to choose not to do something, and  to not be able to do it because others told you that you are disabled and you  can’t do it.

I couldn’t find more interesting article about this topic  than an article entitled applying makeup.   The writer explains in detail how she applies makeup. What I  really liked about this article that it is presented to us from a blind woman perspective.  so for me, it is more real and authentic than anything else. Let me quote one  of the interesting points she made in her post, “Even some blind people can’t  fathom the idea. There is a blind woman I know who has her husband go around  shopping with her, and he puts on her make-up before work every morning. I  don’t think it is fair to your partner, just because he is sighted to take advantage  of him, making him into your personal stylist.”
In fact, there are complete courses offered to the blind women  to teach them how to apply makeup using their sense of touch. Vision Aware, one  of the best resources when it comes to blindness topics, gives some valuable  advice about the best techniques used for applying makeup with vision loss  through an article entitled Makeup Application After Vision Loss.
So yeah, blind women are able to apply makeup and become more  beautiful too.

MTA: Can I have your attention please?

For those of you who don’t know the MTA, it is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. They are responsible for managing the subway, the local and express buses, many of tunnels and bridges in New York, and the regional rail services in greater New York.

Nobody can deny that the MTA is working hard to improve the experience of the passengers who are using their services. However, this does not mean that we don’t express our concern about how the service is provided to the passengers in general and the blind passengers in particular. I think a lot of work is waiting for the MTA to ensure the safety and the convenience of the blind passengers. The MTA has its own special programs for the blind such as the Paratransit service and the reduced fair. It is true that the MTA is renovating stuff here and there. We appreciate the accessibility of the MTA website. We notice the introduction of some new trains using a clear sound system to speak the name of the stops. What about the trains that don’t have those sound systems yet?

It’s understandable that those issues take long and they usually cost a lot of money. Currently, a train conductor is responsible for announcing the different stops to the passengers. I will take A, B, C, and D trains as examples for this case. I am just wondering (are the conductors well-trained?) (Are they qualified for the job?) (Is there any kind of monitoring for their work?) (Does the MTA make sure that the speakers on those trains are really working?)

Unfortunately, most of the time the conductors either’ are mumbling so you don’t hear what they are saying, or they speak too loud to understand them. Of course for a blind person, this means missing stops, or taking wrong trains without knowing especially when 2 different trains come on the same track.

On the platforms, you hear the recorded announcement says something like this “the next train is now arriving on the express/local track” so which train? You never know. They casually announce which train is coming but it is not always the case. It is also sometimes done while the trains are arriving with their loud noise so nobody can hear what is being said. It is so stressful for a blind person to wait without knowing which train is arriving. Then, he / she has to get on the train to ask the passenger which is which; most of the time he / she doesn’t get an answer because people are not paying attention and some conductors don’t perform their job professionally, or because nobody announces on the platform. This is unsafe particularly when doors are closing, and it may delay the movement of the trains themselves. It is a critical issue for blind people who take such trains specially when it is night time and trains are already less frequent and everybody wants to go home before it really gets late and unsafe to travel. The MTA should assume the responsibility to ensure safety and convenience for all the passengers, particularly, the people with disability. I understand that things take time but when it comes to the safety of your citizens or residence, it is a different story. I myself can’t tolerate somebody who doesn’t want to perform his / her job efficiently.

In addition, when there is a service change, most of the time there is no sign to tell. Even if there is a sign, rarely somebody announces this change for a blind person to know. For example, when a d train, which is an express train, runs on the local track, or when a c train, which is local train, runs on the express track. It is a puzzle even for the sighted person to figure things out so what do you want a blind person to do!

Money Identification

When I came to the States, one of the strange things that stopped me is that all the dollar bill banknotes were the same size and texture. Unlike the US, many countries offer the bills with different sizes or texture to be easily distinguished. So how does an American blind person know the difference between bills and coins?

As for coins, they are much easier because they have different sizes. For example, the quarter is the biggest one and the penny is the smallest one. Another differentiator is that the quarter and the dime have a rough or a ridge edge while the nickel and the penny have a smooth one.

OK, this is easy to understand. So what about the bills?

Although that having different sizes or texture can help distinguishing between bills, it is not the case with the bills in the United States. In addition, it is not very practical thing to do; actually it is time consuming, you can’t test every single bill you have in order to see the difference among them.

Here are some simple techniques to try

  • Organize money logically in your wallet. Put each bill in a separate pocket for easier identification.
  • Fold each bill differently. For example, you may fold the $1 into half, Leave the 5 unfolded, fold the 20 twice … etc
  • You may also put a separator between different types of bills then put them in elastic.

Beside those simple techniques mentioned before, there are electronic talking identifiers that can tell the blind person which is which. I didn’t try them myself but I know that they are available to purchase. Of course you should make sure that the identifier can recognize the currency which you are using. Whether it is a dollar, euro, pound etc

I believe websites like Independent Living Aids or Maxi Aidsmay have such tools.

If you are a user of Kurzweil 1000, you may have come across the money recognition feature in the tools menu. You simply need to scan the bill and choose the right currency whether it is a US dollar, Canadian dollar, or a British pound.

If you have any other useful way that you think it would be nice, just let us know so that we learn from you 🙂

Organizing your refrigerator

You are just back from the store carrying plastic bags or a big heavy pack bag full of all different kinds of food and beverages. You want to place each item safely in its place in the refrigerator. At the same time, you need each item to be accessible and reachable for usage to make this delicious meal of yours. You also got some fresh or frozen items to be left in the freezer; things that most probably will lose their shape after some time inside it.

Hmmm! this means that we need more organization for our stuff in the refrigerator. Below some techniques that could be helpful although you may need to adjust them according to the space available to you.
• Use a consistent system in organizing the frozen items in the freezer. For example, if you can use 2 shelves, place the vegetables and bread in one shelf, and put the different kinds of meat in another shelf.
• If you have a limited space in the freezer, you still need to organize your stuff in a systematic way. For example, place the red meat, then chickens, then fish then vegetables or vice versa. You should try to find a logical order that is relevant to you to be able to remember it later.
• It is safer if you try to put the glass jars or bottles in the drawer of the refrigerator but in case that the design doesn’t help in that, you should make sure that the glass jars are not at the very front on the shelves. This may lead to breaking them if you try to get something forgetting that you have glass jars in front of you.
• Don’t ever keep anything open in the refrigerator; you should always make sure that containers are well-covered to avoid spilling stuff.
• Most probably you will be able to differentiate the containers according to their shapes, you may need to label them in Braille or draw a clear visible mark if you are visually impaired to recognize them quickly. If you don’t have a Braille labeler, at least you can put a sticker on the similar bottles to differentiate them. For example, you have similar juice bottles one for mango and the other for orange, in this case, put a sticker on one of them to differentiate it from the other one.
• As mentioned before, you still need to organize your refrigerator in a logical order to be able to locate your stuff. For example, you may categorize food into fruits, vegetables, dairy, beverages etc to be easy to remember
• Ask your partner in case he or she uses the refrigerator to put everything back in the exact location to avoid missing up the order.
Those are some basic helpful techniques that can make your life much easier and more independent and efficient in using your refrigerator. Please share yours with us so that we can exchange those useful techniques for an easier life.

Independent Living Skills

Independent living skills is a big title for a whole set of courses or program taught in some of the centers for the blind especially in the more developed countries. The aim of such programs or courses is to empower any blind individual in order to be fully independent or at least he / she reduces the need for the sighted assistance on daily basis. A blind friend told me “some people think that we need somebody to feed us, assist us wear our clothes, or even help us use the bathroom.” One day somebody asked me “does your roommate cook for you?” so I replied “no she is only my roommate not my housemaid.” I still remember the funny reply that my roommate said when I told her about this weird thing “O! 🙂 I would charge a lot if I would do this job. “

What I want to say is that you can’t actually find 24/7 visual assistant to do your daily living activities such as: cooking, cleaning, and organizing your stuff, using home equipment and devices. On the other hand, I want to show how creative and efficient some blind people are. That’s why I also would like to call upon my friends to share their techniques in order to broaden our understanding and learn from each other. In fact, there are many people around the world or even here in the States who unfortunately don’t have the chance to join those centers to learn more about those skills but they are creative and talented enough to find their way and live more independently.

The point which I want to make here is that for a blind person to live independently is not an impossible thing. It just needs a talented and patient teacher, a creative thinking, maximizing senses, special training and sharing experience among other blind people.