Last month featured our annual holiday gift guide. Recognizing that AccessWorld readers, just like the rest of the population, are sometimes serious procrastinators, I wondered if I could pull together a list of attractive recommendations for the last minute shoppers among us. Gifts, after all, are not necessarily limited to physical, brightly wrapped packages. There are plenty of wonderful gifts that might sail through cyberspace or from just one heart to another.
The following are the results of some brainstorming and exploration. There may be something here for that friend or loved one who is so difficult to please or who was inadvertently left off a gift list… or even for yourself!
One of the most memorable gifts of my childhood was when a friend's parent signed me up for a subscription to a braille magazine for preteen girls. Every month, through the mail, that gift brought pleasure again and again. If your gift recipient is a patron of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), you might consider signing them up for one of the dozens of braille and audio magazines available free of charge through that service. The collection features magazines to appeal to every age and reading taste, including such popular favorites as People, The New Yorker, Good Housekeeping or Humpty-Dumpty (audio) or PC World, Parenting, Playboy or Spider (braille), and many others for both kids and adults. If your friend or loved one is a new braille reader and interested in news and current events, a fabulous weekly braille publication is Syndicated Columnists Weekly available from National Braille Press for $24 for one year or $45 for two years.
There are, of course, subscriptions that bring other kinds of entertainment.
If you are already an Amazon Prime member, you know firsthand the many benefits that particular subscription brings. If not, it is definitely something worth considering for yourself or a friend.
For $119 annually or $12.99 per month, an Amazon Prime membership delivers a host of benefits including free two-day shipping anywhere in the contiguous United States, over two million musical tracks, and Amazon Prime video. For entertainment value, the Prime Video component alone may make this subscription worthwhile for a blind or low vision person. A streaming video service (some shows can also be downloaded), Amazon Prime is a treasure trove of TV shows and movies, many of which feature audio description, which can be viewed on your smart phone or tablet as well as your computer or TV. If you heard about that Emmy-winning series, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," for example, it's all right there on Amazon, free to Prime members, and includes great audio description. Other popular series are "Bosch," (based on the Michael Connelly thrillers), "Man in the High Castle," and "Downton Abbey."
Additional benefits of the Prime membership include two-hour Whole Foods delivery in Austin, Virginia Beach, Dallas, and Cincinnati, and same day delivery of many pantry items in a variety of cities.
To give an annual or three-month Prime gift membership, you can visit this page. From there, you can add a Prime gift to your cart, enter the recipient's email address, and place your order. The recipient's email address doesn't need to be associated with Amazon.com. The gift will begin on the day your recipient redeems the membership. If you're ordering the Prime gift for yourself, you'll need to end your existing membership before redeeming the gift membership.
Pick of the Litter
If you have ever wanted an entertaining way to educate others about blindness or guide dog travel, this independent film turned blockbuster is perfect! "Pick of the Litter" is a small documentary about one litter of five puppies, born on the San Rafael, California, campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. With humor, honesty, and moments that will have you scrambling for the tissues, audiences follow the paths of these five puppies to find out which one or ones will make the cut to be an actual graduating Guide Dog. After making the circuit of small film festivals, the movie was released into 24 major markets in late August, and is finally available for purchase on DVD. You can stream it from iTunes or Amazon or, better still, buy the DVD to give as a gift. Price is $19.89. Buy from Amazon Smile and indicate Guide Dogs for the Blind as your designated Amazon Smile charity, and a percentage of the proceeds will go to the school.
Speaking of Charities
Another thoughtful gift for anyone on your list is to donate to a favorite charity on behalf of that person. You don't have to look very far for worthy options.
Try your favorite guide dog school, school for the blind, blindness organization, or regional library for the blind. If you like the idea of narrowing your focus to a more specific purpose, one that has caught my attention recently is an initiative delivering canes to blind people in countries where cost puts such essential tools out of reach.
James Boehm, a Peabody College of Vanderbilt University graduate student in human development Clinical Mental?Health Counseling, is involved with such a project. He and his wife Wendy will be delivering 100 canes and solar-powered talking Bibles to blind people in Kenya next March. To contribute on your own behalf or on behalf of another, contact James Boehm. His endeavor is affiliated with Global Cane, a 501C3 organization.
Most of us have known the dismay of not having enough time to spend with people we love. To fill that void, try giving a gift of experience. Buy tickets to a movie, play, concert, sports event, or special festival, and email or deliver them to the gift recipient with a note to put your the event on their calendar. If one or both of you aren't fond of being in crowds, make a similar date to watch a movie or play a game in one home or the other as a treat. Round it out with a commitment to order from your favorite UberEats venue to enjoy a meal together as well.
No cash? No worries. Chances are you have a skill or talent that could benefit someone who doesn't share that ability. If cooking is your thing, make a commitment to cook your recipient's favorite meal. Other gifts of time might include watching someone's kids, cleaning a house, building a bookcase, or organizing a pantry.
And, to bring it back to technology, how about a gift certificate promising to teach your favorite non-techie how to send tweets, browse Facebook, or shop online?
It's been a rough year in many parts of the country and the world. Whether you have money to spend or time to shop is not nearly so relevant as whether or not you can distribute a bit of kindness in the direction of others.
Whatever you celebrate have a wonderful holiday season.
AccessWorld is our gift to you!
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
- AccessWorld 2018 Holiday Gift Guide by Deborah Kendrick
- Holiday Gift Guide: Unique and Affordable Gifts for People with Visual Impairments by Deborah Kendrick
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