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Holiday Gifts for Family and Friends Who Are Visually Impaired

With the holiday season coming into full gear, some tips and examples of gifts that are accessible for people who are blind or have low vision can be helpful. Following are a few sources and pointers for shoppers:

Perkins School for the Blind has released its 2023 Holiday Gift Guide for All: Embrace the spirit of inclusion. Their guide, geared for children and adults who are blind, visually impaired, or disabled, offers “52 empowering and inclusive gift ideas” that support small businesses as well. A key pointer is to be mindful of the preferences of the individual, whether they enjoy tech gadgets, classic toys, or clothing, for example. When shopping in locally owned toy stores, ask about their products that are inclusive and accessible.  Some examples, by category, are:
For the fashion minded: Adaptive warm weather clothing, like custom ponchos or adapted coats, are available from Etsy creators, such as ElaineSearer or MBCozyCapes for children; and Eye Power Kids Wear.
Toys for all ages: Sensory toys like LEGO braille bricks, texture books, a lava lamp, and Light Up Magna tiles are just a few gift ideas.
For the cook or food aficionado: The Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery, is owned and run by Jeremiah Fox, who is legally blind and uses his other senses to create his products. Fox uses talking timers and tactile points on machine controls to adjust the temperature and airflow. Bowls, pots, and more items for use in cooking and serving can be purchased from John Furniss, a woodworker who is blind.
Tech gifts: Innovative, cutting-edge tech options that prioritize accessibility can be explored. Examples are Feelif, a tablet with a special tactile grid for a multi-sensory experience, and the DotWatch, a smart braille watch that can be used for telling time, answering calls, and reading messages.

These are just a few examples of suppliers and products available for purchase as holiday gifts. Other categories for gift selections include inclusive options like braille and tactile books, musical instruments, sensory art and craft activities, and more. For additional details, visit the Perkins webpage featuring the 2023 Holiday Gift Guide for all: Embrace the spirit of inclusion.

APH (American Printing House for the Blind) Connect Center offers a variety of gift suggestions from VisionAware peer advisory and contributors. These include:
For those who enjoy games: Board games, such as Scrabble, Checkers, Monopoly, and others feature braille/large print game pieces and/or tactile markings and can be purchases from a number of sources, such as Maxi-Aids, the Braille Bookstore, and Independent Living Aids. Information is available from Mattel on the UNO Braille Family Game for Blind and Low Vision Players.
For cooking: Large print tactile measuring cups and spoons can be helpful as well as a kitchen timer with large print or braille or smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo Dot or Google Assistant,, that can be used to set a timer and more.
More tech gifts: The Amazon Echo or Google digital assistants, mentioned above, can also be set up to ask about the weather, news, play games, and listen to music, to name a few examples. Smart speakers are controlled by voice and can also be a useful gift for a person who is blind or has low vision.
Small practical gifts: A large display or talking calculator, check writing and hand writing guides are useful and simple. Electronic voice labeling products, such as PenFriend 3 Voice Labeling System or VOXCOM II 100, are available, as well as simple, inexpensive options like touch dots. Visit Maxi Aids for a comprehensive list of labelers.
Read more  on the APH Connect Center webpage featuring Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Low Vision.

The Blind Guide, featuring resources for people who are blind or visually impaired, has updated their Holiday Gift Giving Guide for 2023. They offer tangible tips to help gift givers. For example, ask open-ended questions, such as “How do you keep track of what’s in your refrigerator? How do you find your way to a new destination?” That could lead to responses with references to specific products on their “wish list.” Local associations for the blind can provide assistance as well, where samples of products, especially technology, may be on display with the opportunity to try out the device(s). Gift suggestions are included as well, such as purchasing from Two Blind Brothers, a company run by siblings who both have Stargardt Disease. For more tips and gift ideas, visit The Blind Guide webpage featuring their Holiday Gift Giving Guide.