How to make Christmas accessible for people with a visual impairment
As brilliant as Christmas can be, it can also present many challenges for disabled people. As a person who is registered as blind (severely sight impaired) and has no useful vision, I can sometimes face challenges over the festive period. However, there are various ways that you can make Christmas more accessible for people with a visual impairment.
So I thought that I would share some of my top tips with you, so that everyone can enjoy the festivities!
Write braille/large print messages in Christmas cards
It can often be difficult for sighted people to braille Christmas cards themselves, especially if they do not know braille but there are places that sell braille cards, these can often be found online. If you would like to try and braille your own Christmas card for a blind or visually impaired person there are braille guides online to help you with this. If you are interested in brailling a card yourself, it may be a good idea to make the message a bit shorter as braille is larger than print so therefore, it takes up more room in cards.
The easiest way to braille a Christmas card is to write your message on braille paper or a self-adhesive labelling sheet, cut it out and stick it in the card.
To write your cards in large print for visually impaired people, it’s a good idea to write them using a chunky pen on a white or yellow background.
For blind and visually impaired people, brailling or writing large print Christmas cards can be a fun activity to send to other blind or visually impaired friends or family. It can also be a fun activity for children to do if they are learning braille.
Label gifts in an accessible format
You could label the gift tag in braille or large print, or if you have a PenFriend or a braille labeller from the RNIB then you could use either of these and create a spoken message/small braille label. If none of these ways are possible, then you could use wrapping paper/gift bags or tags that have a different feel.
Put braille or large print numbers on advent calendars
It can be impossible for totally blind people to find the correct door on an advent calendar and very hard for those with low vision to see the written numbers so doing this makes it fully accessible. It’s also a way of promoting independence to blind or visually impaired children. A person with a visual impairment will more than likely need sighted assistance in order to stick the numbers on the correct doors but it can be a fun activity.
If you don’t really have the time to do this, you can also buy tactile advent calendars which are often accessible for blind or visually impaired people.
Purchase accessible games
We all play games at Christmas right? You can get well known games or new ones in both braille or large print from many places so it’s fun, inclusive and accessible for everyone.
Tell us who you are in social situations
Many blind and visually impaired people like myself are very good at recognising people by their voice, however if we have never met a person before or haven’t seen someone in a long time, it can be hard for us to tell who it is. Christmas is a time where we spend a lot of time socialising so if you’re doing a lot of that, then it’s important to remember this.
Describe gifts when we open them
If a person has a visual impairment then we often can’t see the gift after opening it so it’s always helpful to be provided with a description of the gift. I am blind and have no useful vision myself and don’t always recognise what the gift is after I’ve opened it and I’m constantly asking people what is in front of me. It’s not always pleasant opening a gift and not having that initial reaction a sighted person would have when they first see it and instantly know what they’ve received so if someone would describe the gift once we’ve opened it, it would make the situation easier. Presents sometimes have a lot of packaging so it can often be hard for us to tell exactly what it is.
Don’t leave presents all over the floor
Some people are very lucky and receive plenty of gifts at Christmas, those gifts tend to be placed everywhere on Christmas day which is only natural, however they can be a tripping hazard for blind and visually impaired people as we might not know that they’re there. I’ve had mishaps in the past which resulted in me tripping over a gift (this has happened more than once and there is no doubt that it will probably happen again). Just a cautious message to remind you to keep your gifts to one side in order to prevent any accidents.
Donate to a charity
There are plenty of fundraising collections for charities all over the country during the festive season and all the money goes towards providing vital services and support. I am in no way saying that you have to donate, I am just making you aware that the option is there if you would like to donate. I am fully aware that not everyone is in a position where they are able to make donations but if you are and are interested in donating to a charity then there are plenty to choose from.
Don’t forget that you can donate all year round, not just at Christmas.
Those are some of the ways in which you can make Christmas accessible for people with a visual impairment.
I would just like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Holly created Life of a Blind Girl as a way of sharing her experiences of living with a visual impairment in a predominantly sighted world and wants her blog to be a platform for providing others with advice and support on all things visual impairment and disability.