Practical Tools for Vision Loss
phone ringing at the DuPage Center for Independent Living
could be for Mary Kozy, the centers Information and
Referral Coordinator for persons with visual impairments.
For the past six years, Mary puts consumers in touch with
the appropriate resources. She finds the best life tools,
the correct Fair Housing or ADA-related information, and matching
agencies to serve each consumers needs. Mary provides
peer support and counsels people with disabilities, then goes
out into the field with co-workers who provide outreach to
the communities of DuPage County, Illinois. Mary is the first
person one speaks to if he or she experiences a sudden vision
Marys day may start out assisting
a family from Honduras locate housing and establish a working
household budget; the familys goal is to become financially
self-sufficient. Mary and staff also work with Catholic Charities
to aid impoverished and homeless families.
Later on, Mary and guide dog, Margie, lead
a support group for people with blindness and visual impairments.
The group gathers with their guide dogs, takes walks, talks,
then stops for a good lunch.
Mary gradually lost her sight at the end
of high school due to hemorrhages caused by retinopathy of
prematurity. Like many people with obstacles in her path,
Mary built an extremely productive life. Mary first worked
as a medical transcribera job often performed by persons
with blindness. Then after earning a masters degree
in social work, she worked for fifteen years as a social worker
for the acclaimed Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
A full, productive life like Marys
always benefits from assistive devices. Throughout her life,
Mary has always made full use of assistive technology to help
her get her work done. Assistive devices facilitate her dynamic
career and can help you get your work done too. Heres
a look at Marys toolbox:
Technology Throughout the Workday
During the workday, some
of the most helpful devices Mary uses are actually on the
low-tech side, such as the Perkins Brailler,
a semi-portable, mechanical note-taker that prints words in
six-dot Braille cells. The Perkins Brailler has been
around for a long time and is very useful, but its weight
(about 16 pounds) often prohibits portability. However, the
Slate n Stylus by the American Printing House
for the Blind is a lightweight note-taker Mary carries with
her in the field.
A labeler is essential for persons with vision loss so Mary
uses a Dymotape for Braille, a labeler thats good
for work or home use. A Smart Label Printer by Seiko
also works well for labeling mail.
On the high-tech side, Mary uses Jaws for
Windowsa very popular screen reader with a synthetic
voice to read data aloud in most computer programs. DOS-Vocal-Eyes
reads text from Marys WordPerfect word-processing
files. Mary can also read text with an Alva Refreshable Braille
display, a 40-cell display that sits under a standard keyboard.
She uses an Index Braille Embosser for printing documents
Mary then accesses the Internet to send
electronic mailan invention that has liberated everyoneparticularly
persons with mobility, speech, and hearing impairments.
Technology at HomeAt home, Marys Sony
talking alarm clock wakes her up each morning and her talking
caller I.D. tells her whos calling. Mary listens to
the daily news via Newsline, an automated news service accessed
over the telephone. Newsline is cooperatively sponsored through
the Illinois State Library and the National Federation for
the Blind. Callers use their dialpads to skip to articles
Mary follows a busy schedule with
her Braille wristwatch. There are many Braille and talking
watches available, sold in the LS&S catalog and Lighthouse
catalog, listed below.
In the kitchen, small appliances simplify cooking because
theyre easy to handle and dont heat up as much
as conventional ovens. Because they are self-contained, small
appliances are generally safer for use by anyone with a disability.
Mary uses a crock-pot and microwave oven the most, along with
the new George Foreman grille, a self-contained broiling unit
that drains grease from food and is easy to clean. Mary uses
her Braille labeler to identify spices, ingredients and prescription
medicinesan essential practice in the home. (See also
Infinitecs Adaptive Cooking page with lots of cooking
tips for persons with vision loss.)
When it snows, Mary goes cross-country skiing
with Ski for Light, an organization based out of Minneapolis,
Minnesota for persons with visual impairments. Ski for Light
provides sighted volunteers to work as guides. Marys
favorite places for skiing include Wisconsin and Colorado,
but shes skied as far away as Norway and Sweden. Mary
and husband Ken (who is sighted) love to travel and dine out,
especially in Hawaii, where theyve been five times!
When relaxing, Mary loves books, particularly
modern fiction, mysteries, and self-improvement topics. She
belongs to the free National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped, a division of the United States
Library of Congress, which lends Braille books, talking books,
and tape recorders. For entertainment, Mary also buys commercially
sold audio books.
Mary likes to share her assistive technology tips with everyone.
Thats part of her job! Please see the resources listed
below to enhance your own life and help it run smoothly.
American Printing House for
APH manufactures Braille, large type, recorded, computer disk,
and tactile graphic publications, as well as a wide assortment
of educational and daily living products, such as the Slate
for the Blind
180 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: (312) 236-8569
Magnifiers, computer training, support and resources. Subscribe
to free newsletter.
DuPage Center for
739 Roosevelt Road
Building B, Suite 109
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Lean Mean Fat-grilling Machine
Find it at all small appliance and cooking shops/departments
World distributors of assistive technology devices for persons
with blindness or visual impairment.
Hitec Group International
Distributors of assistive communication devices.
Lots of cooking tips for persons with
111 East 59th Street, 12th floor
New York, NY 10022-1202
Contemporary magnifying devices, telephones, talking caller
I.D., talking watches, lighting, office and kitchen tools.
L S & S catalog
Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
(a division of the U.S. Library of Congress)
NLS administers a free library program of Braille and recorded
materials circulated to eligible borrowers by postage-free
mail through a network of cooperating libraries.
Innovations for People with Visual Disabilities
Video magnifiers and software, note-takers, scanners, Braille
writers, display, embossers, learning disabilities software,
customer support. Pulse data also took over Humanware.
Ski for Light Inc.
1455 W Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408-0264
For twenty-five years, Ski for Light has been offering blind,
visually impaired, and mobility-impaired adults the chance
to experience the sport of cross-country skiing. Skiing is
an activity that gives the blind/visually-impaired person
a unique feeling of freedom, independence and accomplishment.
Smart Label Printer
Society for the Blind
Dymotape® labeler for Braille and many other labelers.
Note: Infinitec Inc. does not endorse
or recommend the above-mentioned products and has no liability
for the results of their use. Infinitec Inc. has received
no consideration of any type for featuring this product on
this Web site. The information offered herein is a summary;
it is not comprehensive and should be carefully evaluated
by consumers with the assistance of qualified professionals.
The intention of Infinitec Inc. is to offer consumers a brief
overview of various assistive technology devices and their