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FAQ Categories: Home & Lifestyle


How can I use a mobile phone?

Most mobile phones these days are very accessible straight out of the box and do not need adaptations for blind or partially sighted people. Although the majority are touchscreen, in-built speech capabilities make them easy to use without needing to see the screen. iPhones as well as Android phones are very popular, as are a lot of their apps. RNIB’s technology blog TechKnowMore will keep you up to date on the latest apps available for blind and partially sighted people....

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How can I tell time?

Some watches have an open face so a blind or partially sighted person can feel where the hands are in relations to Braille dots at the different hour points. There are also talking watches and clocks that speak the time and have built-in alarms. For people who can read some print, there are also clocks and watches with large print faces. Many blind or partially sighted people also use their mobile phones or computers to check the...

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How do I manage money?

British Pound notes and coins have been designed with accessibility in mind, so that they can be easily differentiated by touch. There are also various note gauges and detection devices to help you identify and store cash easily. For tips on managing cash as a blind or partially sighted person, visit the Money and finance section of the RNIB’s...

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Can I play sport and games?

Most sports and games can be adjusted to be made accessible to people with sight loss, and there are many organisations that make it easy to get involved. Runners can run with a guide to assist with directions, while cyclists can ride tandem with a sighted person to steer the bike. Golfers get assistance to ensure their club head is positioned behind the ball before they swing, and ball games like cricket and football can be played with audible balls. There are even sports that were invented specifically for blind or partially sighted people, such as goalball. For more details on how to take up sport as a blind or partially sighted person, visit British Blind Sport. Games are also quite simple to adapt for a blind or partially sighted person. There are Braille versions of decks of cards and board games like Scrabble and Monopoly, and chess, checkers and Backgammon boards can be made tactile too. Yahtzee and other dice games are easy if you use dice with dots that you can feel and count. Not all games have to be made especially for the blind. As for computer games, Spoonbill Software produces computer games that can be played by blind and sighted individuals together. These games are freely distributed on request. Visit the Spoonbill website to find out...

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How do I learn Braille?

To learn Braille, you need to memorise what each of the different combinations of raised dots stand for, and then train your fingers to sense the dots by touch. Most people need lots of practice before they can read Braille quickly, so if your sight is deteriorating, you’re encouraged to start learning as early as possible, even if you can still read some print. There are many different courses available that will make sure you have the basics down pat. After that, it’s practice, practice, practice. Visit RNIB’s online learning centre to find out more about the Braille courses...

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How do I read?

Blind or partially sighted people can read in several different ways and it all depends on personal preference. Some use Braille, other use a computer, screen reading software or audio books. Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with your fingers. Good Braille readers, like good print readers, can read much faster than they can talk. Blind and partially sighted people use Braille to take notes at school and university, write letters, read music, record phone numbers and recipes, and to do the other things you might do using print. The RNIB has the UK’s largest collection of Braille and recorded books and magazines that you can borrow free of...

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How do I choose clothes?

Most articles of clothing will have at least one distinct element that will allow a blind or partially sighted person to identify them by touch. Different buttons, bows, belts, pockets and textures will usually help you identify that red shirt from the blue one, and the grey trousers that go with it. This method can be problematic when faced with choosing items that feel exactly the same – like ties – so some people like to mark their clothes in a special way to tell them apart. This can be as simple as attaching a safety pin to the lining, sewing in a Braille label, or using colour identifiers. You could also make a list of the suits, shirts, ties, and other clothes that feel alike and match them with each other using Braille numbers and letters attached to each piece of clothing. When out shopping for clothing, ask the staff to describe the item(s) so you can learn how they look and how they feel so you’ll know exactly how they fit in your...

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How can I identify colours?

Some blind or partially sighted people are able to see certain colours, others can’t see any at all. You might have enough vision to see all colours, or maybe you can identify bright colours but have troubling telling blue and black apart. It is important to learn about colours even if you cannot see them. You need to learn which colours look nice together, colours that clash, and about stripes, plaids, and other patterns. This is important for clothing, decorating your home, and providing context to the world around you. The colours of the sky, the ocean, and the leaves in autumn are just as important for a blind person to know as everybody else. There are gadgets and apps that also make it easier for a blind person to identify...

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How can I tell the contents of a can or package?

Each blind or partially sighted person will have his or her own way of identifying or labelling different products. Some packages are easily identifiable by touch or smell, but most blind or partially sighted people will rely on some Braille or audio labelling to organise their kitchen. There are also smartphone apps that will scan a package or can and read the contents aloud. Visit the RNIB’s Labelling page for tools and tips to help you organise your...

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How do I shop for groceries?

Fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce items are usually identifiable by touch, it’s when you arrive in the packaged aisles of the supermarket where tins, boxes, cans and containers can present more of a problem. Many blind or partially sighted people like to shop with a friend, volunteer or store employee who can read the different brands and types aloud and help them find...

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How do I cook?

Cooking can seem like a daunting task for blind and partially sighted people, but it’s perfectly achievable with a few adaptations. Talking appliances can be a great help, but blind people can also use the same gas or electric ovens, microwaves, blenders, electric knives, skillets, crock pots as the sighted use. Use Braille or marking glue to label touch buttons and temperature dials, and invest in measuring utensils that are different sizes (rather than marked) to work out portions. Colour and contrast can make things easier during prep time, as it’s easier to find light colour food on a dark chopping board, and darker food on a light board. Smell, sound, temperature, timers, texture and consistency will help you judge how your food is cooking. If you’re recently blind or your sight is deteriorating, there are special training programs to help you learn to cook without your sight. Just like sighted people, some blind people will enjoy cooking more than others. Visit RNIB’s Cooking page for more tips on preparing...

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