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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 May 2011 Issue  Volume 12  Number 5

Resources

Hope, Help, and Connection at AFB Senior Site: Discover a Treasure Chest of Online Resources

If your doctor has told you there is nothing else that can be done to help your vision, you are not alone. There are over 25 million individuals in the U.S. who experience some form of vision loss.

Whether you are looking for information about an eye condition, trying to figure out how to fall-proof your home, searching for local services to help you or a family member or friend with living with vision loss, or even trying to figure out how to change a fuse, AFB Senior Site should be at the top of your list of resources. Now in its fifth year, Senior Site publishes extensive information about all aspects of everyday life with vision loss. While the site focuses on senior issues, many of the topics covered are helpful for people of all ages. Our Spanish-speaking readers can check out Senior Site en español.

Professionals seeking knowledge about working with individuals with vision loss may want to visit the eLearning Center to learn about our extensive course offering.

A Tour of AFB Senior Site

Accessibility

AFB Senior Site displays in a larger font than other AFB websites, but like the rest of afb.org, you can adjust the color, contrast, and font to meet your visual needs. Screen reader users can move repetitive links out of their way by pushing the navigation bar to the bottom of the page. By going to My AFB and registering as a Senior Site user, you can save these settings so you don't have to readjust them on your next visit. The media content on Senior Site is fully accessible, including over 70 videos, all of which are audio-described and include complete transcripts.

Connecting with, and on, Senior Site

While at My AFB you can also sign up for bi-monthly Senior Site tips. These tips provide useful information on a variety of topics—from taking medications safely, to cooking with herbs, to maximizing your lighting. You can also join our message boards and correspond with others about dealing with a particular eye condition, adjusting to vision loss, family situations, home adaptations, and more. AFB Senior Site is also on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us to get the latest news!

Navigating Senior Site

To help you find the information you need, we have published a site map, which is an outline of the entire site. Find the section or article you are interested in, and enter on the link—it's that easy! Senior Site also has a search function that covers all of afb.org.

Main Sections of Senior Site

The five major section headings are in the left column of the site. Here are some brief descriptions of what you'll find in each:

  1. 1. Understanding Vision Loss

    Guides related to vision loss . Senior Site has informative articles and guides for the major eye conditions that affect older people, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. These guides explain what is physically going on in each condition and also give you practical information about living with the condition. The macular degeneration guide also contains an audio lecture on the latest in medical treatment for both dry and wet types of the condition.

    Diabetes and vision loss . If you have diabetes, you will want to read this section, which covers the gamut of information on diabetic eye disease, healthy eating, exercising, monitoring, taking medication, and finding other resources. It is also available in Spanish.

    Vision simulations. To help your family understand your vision, suggest that they watch this short video that simulates vision loss related to common eye conditions.

    Hearing and vision loss. It's estimated that between eight and ten percent of older people experience both hearing and vision loss. Having problems with both vision and hearing can make everyday tasks difficult, but it does not have to mean a loss of independence or quality of life. Senior Site offers a series of videos on the adaptive devices available to help you or a loved one cope with hearing and vision loss.

  2. 2. Finding Help and Support

    Once you've learned more about vision loss, you may be ready to identify services that can help you live with vision loss. There are over 1,000 agencies across the country devoted to helping individuals and families adapt to living with vision loss. For many, these agencies are entryways to support groups, rehabilitation programs, product referrals, and countless other services and resources that provide the makings of a viable support network—the key to independent living. Use the AFB Senior Site Directory to locate help in your area.

    Overview of services. These agencies employ staff with special training to teach adaptive skills and techniques to help you and family members cope with living with vision loss on a daily basis and even continue to work or go back to work. You can find out more about these specialists by visiting this part of the site.

    Friends and family guide. Family members are often at a loss to know how to help when a loved one is diagnosed with vision loss. It seems that everything they do is wrong: they help too much or they don't do enough; they move things around and you can't find them. This guide can help you work through these situations together. It offers help with dealing with feelings as well as practical information related to solving and discussing every day problems related to vision loss, including when to stop driving.

    Personal stories. Senior Site offers a number of video testimonials by people experiencing vision loss. Listen to Esther and Gwen's story about how a mother and daughter worked through the mother's loss of vision.

    Eye Care Professionals. Despite their best intentions and efforts, eye care professionals often do not understand how to talk to patients who have vision loss. Eye care professionals are often unaware of services that can help their patients deal with vision loss. AFB has developed a special part of Senior Site that is just for eye care professionals. Please tell your doctor about it.

  3. 3. Changing Your Home

    With vision loss, the home you have always lived in can suddenly become foreign to you. You can't see the steps or find the light switches, and the glare in the bathroom is really causing you problems. This section of Senior Site offers practical tips on how to make simple adaptations in your home to make getting around easier and safer, and also presents an informative video on home adaptations. You'll also find a home safety checklist to help you get started.

    Redesigning your home. A room-by-room redesign plan, including organizational techniques. You may want to check out the graphics that show good and bad contrast in the bath and kitchen areas.

    Lighting. Proper lighting is one of the most important design changes that you will want to consider. Senior Site offers a series of videos that addresses different types of lighting and their placement.

    Safety in the home. Preventing falls is a critical issue for anyone, but particularly as we grow older we may have balance or other physical problems that can increase the chance of a fall. Fall-proofing your home or living environment is one way to enhance your safety. Senior Site has developed a series of short, helpful videos related to preventing falls.

    Retirement living. If you are considering moving to a retirement living facility you will want to review our checklist to determine what you should be looking for in terms of a "vision friendly" environment.

  4. 4. Daily Living

    This section of Senior Site is packed with information you need for day-to-day living and full participation in your community, including:

    A number of how-to videos accompany these articles, including must-see clips on applying makeup and preparing your favorite meal.

    You will also find two special columns in this section:

    The Home Repair series is written by Gil Johnson, a man with total vision loss. In his column, Gil shares his techniques for small repair jobs around the house. His article on replacing fuses is one of the most popular on the site, and he's also written articles on parenting and grandparenting and even woodworking!

    Esther's Insights is written by Esther Smith, who has macular degeneration. She covers a variety of topics such as using a cell phone, using a computer, fall prevention, and caring for pets. She will also answer your questions about living with macular degeneration. Just e-mail her at esthersinsights@afb.net.

    Products You Can Use. To help you find the products that have been developed to help people with vision loss function every day, AFB has developed a special product directory. Ordering products can often be difficult. To help you in your search, we have also developed a dynamic database that includes the toll-free numbers and web sites for specialty catalogs and manufacturers.

    Senior Site Tips . All of the Senior Site tips are housed in this section. You'll find quick and easy to follow solutions to problems and situations that confront people everyday. Print them out and give them to your friends, family members, and neighbors.

  5. 5. Fitness and Fun

    If you have stopped participating in recreational activities or are reluctant to try new ones because of vision loss, this section is for you! Fully participating in fun pursuits such as curling up with a favorite book, playing cards with friends, or staying involved in a sewing circle, are still possible with a few modifications. Here are some of the articles you can enjoy in this section:

    Hobbies

    Games

    Using a computer

    Gardening, including container gardening

    Exercising, including balance and flexibility exercises, and all kinds of sports from tandem biking, to bowling, to golfing, and even skiing!

Thanks for taking this tour with us. We hope you will take the time to browse the site. To find out what users think about the site and how it helps consumers, family members, and professionals, listen to Senior Site Voices.

And if you have suggestions for new articles we can add, send us an e-mail at seniorsite@afb.net.

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Copyright © 2011 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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