As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to recognize that this time of joy and celebration might present unique challenges for individuals living with low vision. To ensure a more inclusive holiday experience for loved ones with low vision, here are seven invaluable tips to consider:
1. Maintain Consistency in Home Layout
When decorating for the holidays, refrain from reorganizing major items. Visually impaired adults heavily rely on their knowledge of a home’s layout for navigation. Consistency is crucial, so avoid rearranging furniture, belongings, or essential items like medications and canes, as this can cause confusion and distress.
2. Choose Safe Decorations
Finding safe alternatives to traditional decorations that could pose risks, such as candles can be easily swapped for a safer alternative, like battery-powered candles. Providing a safe yet beautifully decorated space can prevent accidents from happening.
3. Contrasting Colors for the Dining Table
Plan your holiday meal with contrasting colors on and around the dining table. This helps individuals with limited vision distinguish between different elements, such as the table, floor, and walls, preventing collisions. Use dark-colored dishes for light-colored food and vice versa for easier visibility.
4. Thoughtful Gift Selection
When choosing and wrapping holiday gifts, consider your loved one’s vision impairment. Find items that enhance daily life, such as products with larger-than-normal features and audio capabilities. Examples include large print playing cards, jumbo remote controls, large analog clocks, iPads or Kindle Readers, and audio books. Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper and ribbon for easier handling.
5. Narrate Holiday Gatherings
Verbally narrate holiday gatherings and parties. Introduce yourself when entering a room or joining a conversation, as people with low vision may struggle to recognize people by their voices, especially in larger group settings. Be verbally descriptive, avoiding vague directions like “over there” or “this way.” Describe opened gifts and suggest passing them around to involve low-vision family members.
6. Empower Participation
Include low-vision relatives actively in holiday celebrations. Rather than putting them on the sidelines, offer them meaningful tasks such as folding napkins or drying dishes, enabling them to feel an integral part of the festivities.
7. Offer Support and Patience
Throughout the holidays and beyond, be supportive and patient. Actively listen to the needs of your loved ones, offering advice and resources without being overbearing. If necessary, seek assistance from organizations like Ensight Skills Center, connecting your family with professionals who can provide valuable support for visually impaired and blind adults, ensuring they live with confidence and dignity in their own homes.
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The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired