Recreational Activities for Older People Who Are Blind or Low Vision
Contributed by Peer Advisor Dayle Kane
Music is engaging for most people such as a sing-along, preferably where someone is playing an instrument and leading the singing. Songs can be geared to an era or theme. If the group members actively participate, attendees may simply request favorites. Also, a group might create a book of their favorites.
Participants can use instruments such as shakers, tambourines, and triangles etc., even in a seated position and, depending on the situation, they could be encouraged to move, clap, tap to rhythm, sway, or just sit quietly and enjoy.
Another fun project is the enjoyment of food. Group members or individuals can enjoy cooking, rolling, kneading, and cutting out of dough for breads, cookies, or even ornaments. Food baking can foster a social occasion and also engage all of the senses and the enjoyment of trying different spices.
You may want to consider setting up a craft area with good lighting, organizational and labeling techniques, appropriate magnification, and tools for measuring, etc.
People who are or have been knitters or crocheters can combine efforts to make a blanket for a nearby shelter or someone in need. Read my post about the fun of knitting You can also check out techniques to help people with visual impairment to start or continue knitting or crocheting.
Another creative activity for individuals or groups is bead stringing to make a wall hanging or jewelry. To differentiate between size and color, beads can be placed into individual small containers and you can use elastic or cording.
A fairly simple project is the weaving of potholders. They are made with nylon loops and a small loom consisting of pegs set along edges in a square.
Contributed by Peer Advisor Lynda Jones, CVRT
People with macular degeneration (a low vision condition) and other types of visual impairments such as glaucoma enjoy playing the same games as people without vision loss. There are adaptive versions of many games, although an adaptive version is not needed by many people with low vision.
Specialty companies offer adaptive versions of dominoes, checkers, Monopoly, and Scrabble. The adaptive dominoes are white with raised black dots that can be seen by many people with low vision, especially if played on a table or cloth that creates a significant contrast, i.e., black or another dark color. The outlines of the white dominoes stand out against the dark background allowing the players to easily locate where to place their next domino. The dark background also helps to reduce glare which is often a problem for people with impaired vision. Because these dominoes have raised dots, they can also be used by people with no vision.
Checkers is a favorite game. The contrast between the red and black squares of a regular checker set may be enough contrast for some people. Others may prefer the adaptive version with one set of square and another set of round checkers and a board divided by raised lines.
Large print playing cards with large letters and numbers can be purchased at toy or department stores as well as through specialty companies. These decks make it possible for individuals to enjoy bridge, poker, cribbage and other card games with friends and family. A dark background makes the cards easier to see on the table. A cribbage board is easier to see if the holes are highlighted with a contrasting color. Many people who are blind or have severe vision loss can join in card games by learning only thirteen Braille letters.
How to Find Adaptive Games
VisionAware has a section on games. You can also visit the helpful products page to find links to a listing of specialty products catalogs, mentioned previously in this article. You can also purchase games in toy and department stores. The regular versions can be adapted by enlarging the print and creating raised lines often for less money. Some games like Mancala need no adaptations.
Other Fun Activities
A rousing game of horseshoes, charades, or trip to the bowling alley can quickly lift the spirits. Color contrast and a sound source can make horseshoes fun to play. Many bowling alleys have gutter bumpers that help improve scores by keeping bowling balls out of the gutter. They may also have a portable ramp for individuals who have difficulty bending over to throw a ball. They can provide to each bowler a print copy of a chart showing the pin set-up. After the first ball of each frame is thrown, a sighted person can point out on the chart which pins are still standing.
Don’t forget outings to movies, art museums, and local theatres. People who are visually impaired can enjoy these activities through audio description (additional narration that provides important visual elements of a film or television show).