How to Help People With Vision Loss Do Laundry
Importance of Maintaining Independence
Living with vision loss requires adapting to the unique circumstances brought on by reduced access to the visual environment. Routine activities such as shopping, doing laundry, or reading the mail can be difficult for these individuals. But adequate support and training can be found. Professionals assist individuals with visual impairments in learning how to do these tasks as a part of independent living skill development. However, the general public is seldom aware of the rehabilitation programs and other resources available to assist people with vision loss live a gratifying life.
Factors to Consider
Specialists in the field of visual impairment instruct people who have vision loss in a wide variety of areas. For example, orientation and mobility specialists teach these individuals how to travel safely and efficiently around their communities and home. Rehabilitation counselors work with this population to secure employment. Also, rehabilitation teachers can assist with activities related to living independently.
The factors determining which professionals may assist the individual with a vision disability are extensive and requires evaluations and assessments to construct a feasible plan.
Some such variables include:
- Has the individual loss vision gradually or suddenly? What is the age of onset of the disability?
- Does the person have family support? Is he/she involved with the community in any way?
- Is the visual condition stable? Will further eye treatment be required?
- Can the person travel with a cane?
- Does bright lighting impact the individual’s visual performance?
- Will the person need a college education or other training to become employed?
- Is the person able to maintain his home with modifications and special aids?
Skills and Techniques
These are just some questions the specialists in visual impairment and rehabilitation must consider when addressing independent living concerns. As daunting as the task may appear, individuals who have visual impairments can go on to be successful. Indeed, many tasks are broken down to smaller steps to help accomplish the goal of independent living and gainful employment.
For example, with a little assistance from family members, friends, or professionals, taking care of the laundry can be achieved with ease after trial and error. Steps for this are provided below:
- Mark the various settings on the washer and dryer with tape or puffy stickers. This allows the person with vision loss to set the type of wash he/she wants for the load of laundry: cold, warm, or hot. He/she can also set the temperature and time on the dryer. When marking these machines, show the individual which button, switch, or knob does what. (Hint: Other appliances can be marked this way as well, such as the microwave and the stove.)
- Realize that most clothing can be washed in the cold cycle. But some items have sensitive dyes in them. In this case, help the person with a visual impairment identify those special items by texture. Keep them in a separate drawer or area in a closet, or in some other manner. Explain the directions to the person with vision loss on how to proceed with washing these items with care.
- Use safety pins to keep socks together in the wash and during drying. In this way, the individual with a visual impairment does not have to worry about matching socks when he/she wants to wear them.
- Use soap pods in the laundry. Soap pods are easier to handle than liquid or powder detergent. One soap pod usually equals one load of clothing.
- Fold and separate clothing after the washing and drying is done in a way that makes it simple for the person with a vision loss to dress appropriately. Most shirts have a tag on the inside at the neck line, indicating size. The person with a vision loss can use this to determine if a shirt is inside out. With pants, the seam can be felt to determine the same thing
- When buying clothing, many individuals with visual impairments prefer to wear solid colored clothing to make dressing a more simple affair, white shirts with black pants, for instance. However, this may not be true for every individual with a visual impairment, but a beneficial skill is to put different types of clothing in different drawers. After all, “independent living” implies individuality in the term.