top of page

What's NEW in the NEWS



Guidelines for Patients who are Visually Impaired and Medical Professionals who Provide Care

By: Cheryl J. Reed, O.D., COMS

I recently asked members of a local American Council of the Blind chapter to share recent experiences receiving medical care.  Individuals shared stories which were both positive and negative. Pat told me she recently went to a new doctor and informed the receptionist making her appointment that she was legally blind.  When she arrived, she was handed a clip board and told to fill out forms.  When she said she needed help, she was rudely told by the office staff and the doctor that no one had time to help her and she would need to reschedule her appointment.  Pat firmly explained that the office needs to provide reasonable accommodations to be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act.  She then received assistance from the office staff.

How can individuals who are visually impaired, and the clinics and hospitals which provide medical care, eliminate barriers and assure excellent care for all patients, including those who have a visual impairment?

    Recommendations for patients:

-Inform the office or hospital in advance to inform them that you are visually impaired.

- Inform the office/hospital staff what kind of accommodations or assistance you will need.

- Inform the office or hospital staff if you have a dog guide and determine if there are any areas in which a dog guide cannot accompany you.

-If needed, educate the staff person regarding your rights under ADA and/or ask for a supervisor or accessibility administrator.


Recommendations for clinics and hospitals:

-Ask the patient, “How can I assist you?”.

-Be aware of information that may suggest a visual impairment such a diagnosis indicating a vision loss may be present, nystagmus, use of a magnifier, use of a close viewing distance, squinting, or closing one eye.

-Be prepared to offer alternative formats for printed material and forms such as large print, Braille, and/or recorded information.  Many individuals have a smart phone, tablet or computer with magnification and/or speech output and may benefit from having paperwork sent in a digital format.  (Note: care should be taken so confidential information is handled appropriately.)

-Staff should identify themselves and their role or occupation when entering a room or working with a patient.

-Staff should speak directly to a patient in a normal tone and volume.

-If a patient is totally blind or severely visually impaired, the staff should describe everything going on around them and all procedures being performed.  It is important to explain what should or should not be touched, where items are located within a room, and when a person is entering or leaving the room. 


-Staff should know how to provide meaningful instructions and directions.  If needed, a patient should be able to walk around an area with assistance so he or she can identify landmarks and cues in the environment.

-Patients should be informed of evacuation/rescue plans and location of exits.

-All staff should be instructed on basic etiquette, appropriate language (ie.  person-first language), and sighted guide travel.

-Paperwork requiring signature should be read to a patient and the reader should provide opportunity for questions. A private room should be provided when information is shared or documents read.  A signature guide should be provided.

-When needed, currency should be identified and counted so the patient is aware of what he or she is paying and receiving.

-Medications should be identified and labelled so that the patient can identify them. Information on dosage, instructions, and precautions should be provided in an accessible format. Scriptalk is an audible prescription reader which is available to patients who are visually impaired.  Information is available at the following link:

For more information and resources on this topic, go to the American Foundation for the Blind website using the following link:

For Immediate Release from APH


Rebecca Snider, (502) 899-2357 (office), or

Anne Durham, (502) 899-2323,



A Historic Moment: People Who Are Blind View Eclipse in Real Time

New technology created “touchable” eclipse experience


Louisville, Kentucky (August 22, 2017)

For the first time in known history, people who are blind experienced the solar eclipse, as it happened, thanks to a developing technology that allowed them to feel a real time, changing image.


Employees of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), the co-inventor of the GraphitiTM, and students of the Kentucky School for the Blind gathered together to “touch” the sun and experienced this historic event with their friends, family, and co-workers.


Graphiti, a device being developed by APH and Orbit Research, combines an array of 2400 movable pins with image software to create a tactile representation. A camera provided the eclipse image, and the shape of the moon and sun crossing paths refreshed every 10 seconds.


For people who are blind, the experience of “touching” the sun, in real time, was a thrill. It also gave participants the opportunity to share in a worldwide event.


“No one was sitting on the sidelines today,” said APH President Craig Meador. “Learning equality is not just about providing the same information that people who are sighted have. It’s about providing the same social, historical and other experiences that everyone else is enjoying.”


The prototype Graphiti used at the eclipse viewing is currently the only one in existence, but APH hopes to have them ready for sale next year. “Ideally we would have had units for everyone around the world today,” said Larry Skutchan, one of the Graphiti’s developers. “We are excited to see how Graphiti will be used in science classrooms, business workplaces, museums …  the possibilities are endless. Just imagine where this technology will be by the time of the next eclipse!”


Learn more about Graphiti and the work of the American Printing House for the Blind at:


About APH – The American Printing House for the Blind

The American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Louisville, Kentucky, is the world's largest company devoted solely to creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired.


OOD/BSVI News and Opportunities:


Saturday Sept. 23, Join members of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky community at the Berry Friendship Park for the annual Vision Walk from Foundation Fighting Blindness. <>

Nov. 15-17, join 1,600+ participants from across the U.S. at OCALICON 2017 in downtown Columbus. You'll find professionals and parents from across professions and industries to share and learn new ideas, practices, and strategies for supporting and improving the lives of people with autism, sensory disabilities, and low-incidence disabilities. <>

The phone number 408. 752. 8052 <tel:408.%20752.%208052>  allows free and immediate access to options including business searches, driving directions step by step, movies, sports, top news, and much more. The menu is completely audio driven and requires no pushing of buttons once the number is programmed or dialed.

Many movies are now available with audio description assisting nonvisual viewers, especially from the online streaming services. But who has what movies? This list can be browsed by letter or by provider. <>

Here's the best article in a blue moon addressing low-Cost Computing for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired from AFB's Vision Aware. <>

Congratulations, Cincinnati! You're now benefitting from a brand new center opened by the Cincinnati  Association of Blind and Visually Impaired, opened just last week. For more information on CABVI's new  Hornbeck Social Enterprise Center, please see this article from Movers & Makers: <>  < <

National Library Services has renovated its website as a gateway to the network of services for people who are blind, have low vision, or have physical disabilities. The new website has been includes tools to adjust the layout for a range of visual needs. In a recent blog post, NLS Director Karen Keninger also detailed four new programs currently being piloted at NLS network libraries: duplication on demand, wireless download, synthetic speech, and Braille e-readers. Find details here: <>

This 10-minute YouTube from National Eye Institute describing low-tech solutions in real low-vision settings, plus the emotional impact of vision loss across life, may be a valuable asset to share with those facing this situation. Both English and Spanish versions are available. <>

A new project called Spotlight Gateway < <> >  is designed to put an iPad into the hands of any student with a qualifying vision impairment at no cost. The student can sign up for free with Bookshare < <> >  to download books and receive an iPad with the Spotlight Gateway app installed. An ophthalmologist must sign off on the proof of vision impairment, and then can register the student on the Spotlight Gateway website

This thought-provoking article discusses pros, cons and legal implications of those patients wishing to record a visit with their doctors and technology to assist. <>

See dozens of free, video-on-demand children's television programs for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing. These feature closed captioning and descriptions through the Education Department's Accessible Television Portal project < <> > . Among the shows: "Ocean Mysteries," "Magic School Bus," "Bill Nye the Science Guy," "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," "Expedition Wild" and "Peg + Cat." Many programs are also in Spanish.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers emergency and disability resources. These include We Prepare Everyday videos featuring people with disabilities preparing themselves and their families for emergencies, articles on preparedness geared toward different audiences, and guides and training for providers on inclusive shelter and support services. See also a web-based, interactive course on integrating people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs in disaster operations. <>

This blog from Social Security Administration, "Making the Most of a Virtual Career Fair" offers advice useful in almost any job search. Remember that SSA frequently lists upcoming job fairs on blogs, so keep tuned. <>

Facebook offers several ways to get in touch with the Accessibility Team. Users can like the Facebook Access for People with Disabilities page <>

The Facebook Accessibility Help Center also offers an accessibility bug report contact form to report accessibility issues. To stay up to date on accessibility work and improvements, visit the Accessibility Help Center <>   and follow the Facebook Accessibility Team (@fbaccess) on Twitter. To "Follow the Facebook page for future updates," see <



















Scholarship and other Contest opportunities for the Visually Impaired and Blind listed by due date:


Deadline Oct. 1,  $10,000 to support graduate student research supporting public understanding of the psychological pain and stigma experienced by adults who live with physical disabilities,  American Psychological Foundation.


Deadline Nov. 1: $1,000 Business Plan Scholarship for any undergraduate or graduate student with disabilities at any accredited american college, university or trade school with a documented disability.


Deadline Nov. 13: The Anne Ford Scholarship, a $10,000 ($2,500/year over four years) award for a graduating high school senior with a documented learning disability who will be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program.

bottom of page