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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Retirement Homes Webinar—Eye Deas You Can Use: Welcoming Residents with Vision Loss into Your Community

Access the archived version of this free webinar from June 12, 2012, on

Transcript of the Webinar

Slide #1 - Robert Walker
Title: Eye Deas You Can Use: Welcoming Residents with Vision Loss into Your Community

I'm Robert Walker and I'm brand manager for Welcome to our June webinar. We are North America's online sales and marketing solutions provider including our housing, our online library, and e-newsletters. We also offer free of charge to senior living community the top experts in senior living every month who will share their knowledge in the fields of research, marketing, sales, and related areas in webinar sessions such as the one you are about to hear.

This month we present Dr. Pris Rogers and Julia Brock both with American Foundation for the Blind. Their presentation "Welcoming Seniors with Vision Loss" will teach you how to attract seniors with vision loss.

Pris and Julia are experts in the field of aging and vision loss. Pris is a gerontologist and Julia is a consultant with the AFB. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. If you would like a question answered, raise your hand in the tool bar to the right and type your question. They will be answered at the end of the presentation. Of course you are also welcome to answer a question any time during.

Now here's Pris.

Slide #2 - Pris

I'm Pris Rogers and presenting with me today is Julia Brock. We represent the American Foundation for the Blind. Our topic today as Robert has told you is "Eye Deas for Welcoming Consumers with Vision Loss into Your Program."

Slide #3-Pris

Why is it important to make our programs fully accessible?

  • Demographics of an aging population
  • Economics
  • and Safety

Slide #4-Pris

Demographics indicate that...

"As the population ages, more Americans will have illnesses and chronic conditions that will limit their ability to carry out ordinary tasks. With a current life expectancy of 75 years, newborns, today, can expect to experience an average of 13 years with an activity limitation. Because the 85 plus group is the fastest growing segment of the population, many Americans may live with activity limitation for 20 years or more. And the growing number of Americans age 85 and older means that there will be a continuing and , indeed, growing need for services and support." (

This is certainly true of people who experience vision loss.

  • 8 million people age 65 and older experience age-related vision loss
  • These numbers will double in 20 years—1/4 of people 75 & older will experience vision loss

Slide #5-Pris

The economic impact of vision loss according to a 2007 study by Prevent Blindness America is an

  • Annual Cost of Adult Vision Problems in U.S.= $51.4 billion

Slide #6-Pris

The functional implications of vision loss are that:

  • Most people with age-related vision loss have some residual vision. In most cases this vision should be used as effectively as possible unless a doctor has advised otherwise.
  • The amount of vision that remains is highly individual and depends on the type of vision loss.
  • Vision loss may be brought about by both normal age-related changes in the eyes and/or by eye conditions.

Slide #7-Pris

Here is a vision simulation of what it might look like to have macular degeneration. In the street scene, you will notice extreme blurriness around the faces of the two men captured in the center of photograph at the right top of this slide.

The photo below shows the heads of two children holding balls. Again the central portion of the photo is distorted because macular degeneration causes a deterioration of the macula or central part of the retina. This is the part of vision we use for close tasks such as reading, sewing or recognizing faces.

Slide #8-Pris

This slide depicts how printed material may appear to a person with macular degeneration. Macular degeneration does not usually progress to total blindness. Adaptive techniques make it possible to continue functioning independently.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among older people.

Slide #9-Pris

Another cause of age-related vision loss is diabetic retinopathy. Hemorrhaging occurs resulting in obstructed vision due to blood components and scarring. A depiction in the upper right hand photo illustrates how vision may be affected by diabetic retinopathy.. .

Slide #10-Pris

A third major cause of age-related vision loss is glaucoma. Pressure causes damage to the optic disk at the back of the eye. Gradually peripheral vision is lost resulting in tunnel vision. Glaucoma can progress to total blindness if untreated. The two photos to the right depict reading with tunnel vision and viewing the two boys with balls as peripheral vision is lost. Glaucoma can be hereditary and for those with a family history it is particularly important to have annual eye exams.

Slide #11-Pris

The fourth age-related cause of vision loss is cataracts. A person with cataracts may experience blurry vision described as looking through a gauze curtain. Glare is a particular problem for persons with cataracts. Most cataracts can be successfully treated with surgery resulting in a 3% cause of vision loss due to cataracts.

Slide #12-Julie

It is important to recognize the indicators of vision loss. Here are some questions to ask regarding observable signs that your resident is experiencing vision loss:

  • Has he or she begun to bump into things?
  • Does the resident move hesitantly or walk close to the wall?
  • Does the resident grope for objects or touch them in an uncertain way?
  • Does he or she squint or tilt the head to see?

Slide #13-Julie

  • Does the resident ask for additional or different lighting?
  • Does he or she hold books or other reading material close to the face?
  • Are silverware and/or food dropped when eating?
  • Is the resident have trouble recognizing faces or reading the lettering on signs?

Slide #14-Julie

  • Are you noticing stains on clothing or mismatched clothing being worn?
  • Is the resident acting visually disoriented or confused in a familiar place?
  • Is the resident tripping on area rugs?

Slide #15-Julie

Has he or she been saying things like:

  • I see halos or rings around lights
  • I have migraine headaches that give me blurry vision
  • I can't see anything at night
  • There are spots in front of my eyes

Slide #16-Julie

  • I sometimes see double
  • Everything looks distorted
  • My eyes hurt
  • I keep seeing flashes of light

These are indicators that the resident needs to have an eye exam.

Slide #17-Julie

Some solutions for environmental issues related to vision loss are:

  • to provide glare control
  • to provide adequate lighting
  • be sure to use contrast, texture, sounds, smells, and other environmental cues
  • use signage with contrast and large lettering
  • promote way finding and safety
  • practice human guide (walking safely with a person with vision loss)
  • provide large print/other technology for reading

In the following slides we will discuss how to accomplish some of these solutions.

Slide #18-Julie

Controlling glare may be as simple as partially closing blinds or using sheer curtain to filter light in a room. Avoiding furnishing a room with shiny surfaces as possible will also be helpful. Furniture may be positioned away from windows to reduce glare. And attention to proper lighting will also be helpful.

Slide #19-Julie

Here are some tips for good lighting:

  • Position is more important than the type of light or wattage.
  • Place the light as close a s possible to give the most illumination
  • To avoid glare, place the light to the side or slightly behind the person to illuminate the object
  • Floor lamps allow you to position the lamp with long adjustable goosenecks and telescoping stands allow you to position the lamp exactly where you need it
  • Dimmer switches are helpful in controlling glare
  • Use contrasting switch plates to help consumers locate the wall switch and dimmer

Slide #20-Julie

A lighting chart pictured here will be available to access in the archived version of this webinar.

I believe that Robert will tell you how to access the archived webinar at the end of this presentation. Also a series of videos on different types of lighting is available on

Slide #21-Julie

Here are two examples of the good use of contrast in flooring materials in order to provide safety and accessibility for consumers with vision loss

Slide #22-Julie

This slide depicts the use of contrast around doors and light switches.

Slide #23-Julie

Some additional examples of contrast utilizing marking materials are pictured in this slide. Notice the use of contrasting marking tape on the stairs, raised marks on the microwave, and contrast of the bathroom sink with the countertop.

Slide #24-Julie

This slide provides more examples of the use of markings on appliances. The lower right photo displays an array of marking materials.

Slide #25-Julie

Here is a chart of suggestions for providing a safe environment for persons with vision loss. Some concepts listed here are elimination of tripping hazards such as throw rugs and coffee tables. Another idea is keeping the floors clear of clutter and arranging furniture to provide a clear pathway through rooms. I invite you to refer to this chart more closely in the archived version of this webinar. A series of videos on preventing falls can be found on VisionAware.

Slide #26-Pris

Those were some solutions to environmental issues. Next are solutions to some of the social issues encountered by persons with vision loss. Those solutions include appropriate interaction and etiquette, use of eating adaptations, how to reveal vision loss, and how to reassure others such as family, friends, staff who may be unsure of how to interact with a person with vision loss.

Slide # 27-Pris

What do you do when you meet a person with vision loss? First of all, identify yourself and speak clearly and directly to the person with vision loss. Use natural conversation including words like "look" and "see."

Slide #28-Pris

Offer assistance by simply saying "may I assist you." Remember that the person with vision loss is the best one equipped to tell you how you might be of assistance and remember that your assistance may not be needed. Be very descriptive when giving directions such as "the bench is to your right approximately two steps away." Use common sense and sensitivity. Treat the person with vision loss with the same dignity and respect as you would treat any other person.

Slide #29-Pris

Eating adaptations are very useful for persons with vision loss. This slide illustrates a plate of food placed in the center of a clock. The food may be described as "your pizza is at 9:00 o'clock and your grapes are at 12:00 o'clock" and so forth. Your coffee cup is at the tip of your knife.

It is important for the table setting in a facility to have some consistency from one meal to another in order to eliminate confusion for the consumer. It may be possible for staff to develop a template of how each resident would like their place setting and food presented and to make sure that template is adhered to at each meal. Then all dining staff could be trained to be aware of "Mrs. Smith's dining template" for instance. Dining is a social experience for residents and every effort should be made to make mealtime a comfortable, enjoyable experience.

Slide #30-Pris

Here is a woman using large print playing cards. There are many board games produced in large print versions. Bingo cards are easily enlarged on a copy machine and possible laminated for extended use. These simple adaptive aids may allow your resident to remain involved in community activities.

Slide #31-Pris

Some solutions to personal issues include managing secondary disabilities of which hearing loss is the most common. Vision and hearing loss is often described as the "double whammy" because so much sensory information is impeded by these combined losses. Good information regarding adaptations for managing these losses can be found on VisionAware in a series of videos featuring Paige Berry, Specialist with the Helen Keller National Center on Hearing Loss. The other most common secondary disabilities in the older population are arthritis, heart conditions, and diabetes. VisionAware is also a good source of information particularly with regard to vision loss and diabetes.

Medication management adaptations are available and illustrated in one of the subsequent slides of this presentation. A renewed sense of self esteem is gained when independence is maintained or regained at any age. And finally, this goal of balance between independence and interdependence is hopefully achieved.

Slide #32-Pris

It is up to the person with vision loss to reveal the disability to others. It is most helpful when a person describes how much vision they retain. Remember the differences in vision loss that you saw earlier in this presentation. So, each individual with vision loss is different and it is helpful to have a concept of what and how much they can see in order to help them make use of their residual vision.

Slide #33-Pris

If a person with vision loss is willing to speak honestly about their vision they may also reassure others regarding their desire to maintain independence as much as possible. Encourage the person with vision loss to request assistance and to describe the assistance that they need.

Slide #34-Pris

Here are some examples of products that can assist with independence. In the upper left photo are medicine reminders and large print labels on prescription medications. The upper right photo demonstrates a hand held video magnifier with a multiplicity of uses. The photo in the lower left illustrates proper task lighting and use of large print writing adaptations. And in the lower right photo a consumer is learning safe food preparation techniques and adaptations from a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist.

Slide #35-Pris

A good place to find specialized products and services is the VisionAware website located at

Slide #36-Pris

Assistive technology provides access to print many with vision loss. People with macular degeneration typically get very good results with the use of video magnifiers such as the one shown in this photo.

Slide #37-Pris

AccessWorld, a publication of the American Foundation for the Blind, is an excellent source of updated information on products for persons with vision loss. Find out about accessible cell phones, blood glucose meters, talking money identifiers. AccessWorld is a free to the public source of information and may be located at

Slide #38-Julie

Here are some reliable web resources for information regarding vision loss.

Slide #39-Julie

Each state has a federal program serving older persons with vision loss. Most of these are located within the state rehabilitation agency. Services are provided free of charge to those who are over age 55 and qualify with regard to vision. There is usually no income eligibility requirement. You may access contact information for these state/federal programs at

Slide #40-Julie

The American Foundation for the Blind offers online courses for professionals and support staff. CEUs for many disciplines are granted upon successful completion of the courses. For more information regarding these courses contact Pris Rogers. Contact information will be provided at the end of this webinar.

Slide #41-Julie

VisionAware and the American Foundation for the Blind are two good places to begin your search for reliable information. You may locate these two sites at: and at

Slide #42: AFB Press Books-Pris

To thank you for coming to our webinar today, AFB is offering you a free book called "Solutions for Success." And this is a training manual for working with older people who are visually impaired and this book was actually written for assisted living facilities but it has a lot of good information for facilities of all types. You can access the book by going to . Then if you also want to purchase anything else from our bookstore, and we have a lot of good information such as on macular degeneration and other things, then I'm going to give you a 15% discount through the bookstore so that you can take advantage of a lot of good books we have on vision loss. This offer is available on a first come, first served basis and we can only provide one book per customer. But those of you who work in facilities will find this really, really helpful in helping your staff to help with consumers with vision loss

Slide #43-Pris

Please feel free to contact either of us via e-mail or phone if we may be of assistance.

So, here is the contact info for the people you have heard on today's webinar, first

Robert Walker
888-544-9124 ext. 243

Thank you for your interest in making residents with vision loss welcome into your community.

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