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Visual Impairments

Most people don't think about the impact of vision loss - and unless a person is wearing blacked-out glasses and walking with a service dog - it's generally a hidden disability.

I know a number of individuals who can walk down a sidewalk or a through a shopping mall without a cane or dog to help them, but they manage. Sometimes it's because they can see outlines and blocks of colour, and sometimes it's because they use other methods - such as a walker or pairing themselves with a companion. What people with visual impairments cannot clearly are small texts and details, labels on an item on a shelf, and posted signs say. Can you imagine how exhausting this can be to be so vigilant and dependent on others to identify items, hazards and even who is speaking?

How to help? What do they ask? The answer seems simple, but it requires practice and vigilance on your part. As a matter of respect - ask a person with impairments what they have difficulty with and what they find helpful.

A few common suggestions:

  • Introduce yourself every time you meet them

  • Communicate. If you are doing something else (checking your phone, writing something down, going to look for an item) tell them what you are doing and when you expect to be done

  • If you are gifting an item - consider contrasting colours or large font for print (

  • See for more ideas.

Most importantly, remember: we all have limitations and we all have aspects of ourselves that are outstanding. The world becomes a more interesting place when we open ourselves to learn and adapt.

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