For most of us our time is limited and when you are blind everything takes longer just to press those time constraints even harder. However, a little pre-planning in your day to day life can save you time and frustration down the road. I was one who always tried to wing it, but when I started going blind, I found that I decided to avoid activities because I was embarrassed about what I could and couldn’t do. I did not want anyone to see me lost wandering around the street, even though I had never had a problem asking for directions in the past, now it seemed like a mark of shame. I did not want family and friends to see me struggle to read a menu in a dark restaurant and I did not want to ask someone to read it to me.
Most of those struggles which, let’s face it are more about our emotional state regarding our RP, not really about us, I have gotten over now, but one of the keys I have found that works for me are pre-planning. We usually know at least a few days in advance what events are on the horizon. If we look at what we need to do, say on a weekly basis, we can make our lives so much easier. The other bonus to living in today’s digital world is that we can look up places on google maps and see what the neighborhood looks like and what the building we need to enter. We can look up menus ahead of meals out and decide what we want to eat in advance. You can do a lot of your shopping online, and we can call a store to make sure that they have the product we need. It does save time, effort and frustration in the long run.
Google maps are one of my best friends these days. Most of us RP’ers can still see a bit, some have better central vision than others, but when it comes to trying to read addresses of places we need to go, well that can challenge anyone. If I have to go somewhere that I have not been before, I look up the address on google maps. I take the little yellow man from the bottom right corner and drop him onto the street where I need to go, this changes the screen to street view, and I can look around at where I will be going. You can zoom in as well so that you can be sure of the address. I can even check where the bus stops are and what I should be looking for when it is time to get off the bus, cause let’s face it, not all bus drivers remember your requested stop. I always use landmarks to mark my journey and find the safest possible way to cross streets and get to my destination. It only takes a few minutes on the computer but has saved me countless steps and unknown hours of frustration when going to a new place for the first time.
Oh, how I love the online menus that most restaurants now provide! I swear that the more exclusive the restaurant, the darker the environment. There are tech devices that I always have on hand so that I can see the menu when I am at the restaurant, like a lighted magnifier (low-tech option) or my mini-reader (high-tech choice), but my favorite thing to do is check out the menu before I even get to the restaurant. I go through the menu and choose what I think I would like; then I look forward to having whatever it is all week. I will often use my tech to have a glance at the menu when I have arrived, by I tend to stick with whatever I have chosen because the anticipation that’s been building for the last few days or even weeks makes that dish even better.
These days you can order groceries online and in some places, have them delivered to your door. Where I live, there are only a limited number of items that you can get this way but in major centers delivery to your door is very accessible. Clothing, grooming items, shoes, books, housewares, music, the list is endless, whatever you want you can order online and have it shipped right to you. You do not have to enter a retail establishment unless you want to. Many online stores will even gift wrap and send the gift you have purchased directly to the recipient. You do not need to see your annoying little brother unless you want to. Kidding, your mother would tell you that he is still your brother and you should spend some time with him, but.
Summing it up
We do live in a beautiful time. We have the tech to help us do almost anything any able-bodied person can do. We have the internet that opens a world of possibilities to us. Using our tech, the internet and a little pre-planning can help us live the full and productive lives we have always wanted. There is no longer a reason to feel embarrassed; you can do it all even better than you might have imagined when you could see just fine. It is fantastic when you find ways to make yourself more efficient than you were when you could take everything for granted. We are not so badly off after all.