Dec 24, 2018
Tips and Tricks With a Blind Perspective. Blog post by Kelsi Hansen
I recently received a request to share some more small tips and tricks that I might use to make daily life more accessible to me as a blind person. So I’ve been trying to think of different ways that I have adapted my life, such as folding the wrapping paper so I know where to cut, but it hasn’t been very easy. I’m not sure if that is because I am so used to my life, or because I don’t use very many tricks that would be different than a sighted person would use. Maybe the world is more tactile than one might realize. Or maybe I have so seamlessly incorporated my small adaptations into my daily life, that it is hard to realize exactly what adjustments I have made. Either way, I think that I have come up with a few to share. Some I have learned from others, and some I have taught myself, and I hope they are helpful to others whether they are blind or not.
Let’s start with the kitchen. First off, I don’t use a lot of Braille. There is some on my microwave, but that’s about it. Not that using Braille is wrong in any way! I am just too lazy to label things with it. How do I tell things apart in my cupboards you might ask? I put them in different spots, or I shake them, or I sniff them. A box of Macaroni and cheese sounds much different when shaken than say, a box of rice. Cinamon smells very different than basil, which smells different than chili powder. The cans of tomato paste are very small, and don’t make noise when you shake them. I like to buy my tomato sauce in the half size cans, and my cans of pumpkin puree is kept with my baking supplies. Right now I don’t have very many canned fruits and vegetables, but when I do, I might put the peas in one cupboard and the green beans in another. Also, in the past, I have lined them in rows, so the first row might be pineapple, and the second mangoes. My kitchen appears very clustered and random, but it works for me, and that is what matters.
I really enjoy baking, and with this, there was a couple of things that I used to struggle with. How would I know which measuring spoons/cups to use? How could I spray the pans evenly? How would I fill muffin tins? There were so many questions I had. If I couldn’t answer them, then I would never be able to enjoy baking again. So, I figured out that I should always keep my measuring cups and spoons together and stacked. The smallest was always ¼ cup or spoon, and the biggest was always 1cup or tablespoon. That way even if I didn’t label them, or the label fell off, I would always know which one was which. When using cooking spray, I learned that you do not have to hold it super far away from the pan and spray it evenly. Instead I hold it closer to the pan and spray it one spot then use a paper towel to spread it. As long as I get it all coded, how much does it really matter if it is sprayed evenly? And filling muffin tins, with or without papers, I use a ¼ cup measure. That way I’m only putting in a small amount, and if it needs more, I can easily add more. The same goes for filling loaf pans for banana bread or whatever it is you put in the pan. Afterwards I wipe the spillage off of the pan the best that I can so it doesn’t burn onto the pan.
When I was little, I remember watching my mom pour the grease from ground beef into a coffee cup so it could cool before she threw it out. After I went blind, I wondered how I was going to pour the grease from a big pan into a small cup. Well … I don’t do that, not that I couldn’t, I just choose not to. Instead, I use paper towels to blot the grease from the meat. It’s not a super environmentally friendly thing to do, but it works well. At least I’m not pouring the grease down the drain right? Another way to do this is to scoop all of the meat out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and then use a paper towel to wipe the grease out. Also, using a leaner ground beef, or even ground turkey, produces less grease so I don’t have to use as many paper towels.
That’s pretty much all I can think of for small tricks I use in the kitchen at the moment. Another time I will write about cooking in more depth. The other tips I have to offer are more random, and don’t fit well into a specific category. So let’s start with medicines for my son.
Like I said, I am way too lazy to label things, so I use some of the same methods I would in the kitchen with his medicines. I might buy one flavor of Tylenol, and another of motrin, that way they smell different. Or maybe I buy a big bottle of one and a smaller bottle of the other. For measuring the medicines out, I have someone cut a line on the syringe at the different marks, such as .25, .5, .75, and 1 ml. Or I might have different syringes marked for different amounts. Now that my son is older though, he uses chewables which is pretty much just give him one and go. Though, there are still some medicines that I can’t get in chewable form, and with those I still use a syringe. When the bottles get too low to measure out with the syringe, I pour a bit into a small medicine cup, measure it with the syringe, and pour the excess back in if there is any. It might not be the best thing to do, but I don’t like waste.
Now, let’s go onto walking with my son. When my son was a baby and even up until he was three, I would papoose him on my chest or back. There are a number of different carriers for this, and a great “baby wearing” community in my area. This is the method I used most. I would wear him in stores, on walks, and cleaning around the house. Carriers are amazing, and I can’t say enough good things about them. Now that my son is older though, he doesn’t like to be carried, and he is getting too heavy for it anyways. So instead, I use a wrist leash, or tether if you rather. There are some people who think that leashing a child is wrong, but I don’t see it that way. Kids are prone to randomly running off. If they are tethered to you, you always know where they are. Besides I’m not very good at chasing after him. Keeping him tethered to me keeps him safe, and that is all that matters, so I don’t worry about what others think.
I do also have a stroller. It is a jogging stroller, so it is super easy to pull behind me. Though again, now that he is older, he prefers to use a wagon. Now we use the jogging stroller for it’s original purpose, and one of my running partners pushes it while we run. Did I mention that I have the best running partner in the world?
One last thing about walking in general: I have always lived in the middle of blocks. Never have I lived on a corner, so it’s never been super easy to locate my house. I could if I really wanted, count all the driveways and walk ways that came before whichever house I was in at the time, but that’s not super efficient, especially if I were to be in a hurry. So, I use a marker to identify my driveway. I used to live somewhere that had cement planters, so I put one on either side of the walk to my house. That was really convenient, unfortunately I was renting, so I couldn’t keep them. Planters are great for locating your house, but a lot of people have planters, so it might not be the best option. Another option, my personal favorite, is using some sort of lawn ornament. I would recommend a nice sturdy one, maybe that you could push into the ground so the wind doesn’t blow it away or no one walks off with it. However, this does not work if you live in an apartment. If this is the case, I would recommend a decoration for your door if it’s been difficult to locate.
All right, that’s a few of my tips and tricks. I hope you have found them helpful! If you have some tips and tricks that you would like to share, send me an email and next time we hit the tips and tricks, maybe yours will be the one we all learn from.
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