Reading even with low vision
My mom had macular degeneration, a disease that destroys straight ahead vision but leaves peripheral vision. She could no longer sew or read or see the faces of people right in front of her, but she always considered herself lucky. She was healthy and able to live in her own home. But without the ability to read, she faced long hours that had the potential to be depressingly empty.
We were lucky to discover the Iowa Department for the Blind and their Talking Books. The Department for the Blind provided the tape player and their librarians quickly learned Mom’s preferences in books and authors – biographies and Louis l’Amour. From the moment the first tape arrived in the mail, Mom was never without a book to read. Her avid reading resulted in weekly book discussions between us.
Mom’s quest to read didn’t stop there. We took a ‘mini-vacation,’ as Mom called day trips, to the low vision clinic at University of Iowa Hospitals where we found a fantastic reading machine. We bought it on the spot and Mom returned to solving her beloved crossword puzzles and cryptoquote puzzles, and enjoying pictures of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After I published my memoir, I heard from many people asking if it was available in large print. Because of my mother’s experience, it pained me to have to tell them no. It was only later I learned a large print version of my book could be available through e-books with their variable type size option. Mom passed away before e-readers were available, but I know she would have leapt to try one.
If you have a friend or relative with low vision who loves to read and hasn’t discovered the services of the Department for the Blind or teaching hospital low vision clinics or the large print features in e-books, I hope you’ll share the news. These services are a true gift.