by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern
A sense of community can be key to living a fulfilling, healthy life, and, while having a visual impairment may sometimes be an isolating experience, this is ameliorated by a strong network of schools, agencies and organizations devoted to bringing together people affected by blindness and low vision and providing support. Volunteer work is one essential aspect of community building, and if you’ve been looking to contribute your particular skills to make a positive impact, there are myriad ways to do so. One approach is to help people who are dealing with vision loss for the first time in their lives to adjust and cope, perhaps by leading a support group, or by teaching these individuals skills you’ve acquired, like braille literacy or using assistive technology. Another could be to serve as a board member for organizations whose work you are interested in, such as a library, arts group, or local disability access initiative. You can find several additional ideas in this article from VisionAware, which offers a Focus on Volunteering as a Blind or Visually Impaired Person.
Ensuring that Your Efforts Are Inclusive
If you’re part of an organization that performs some of its work through volunteers, there are some things to keep in mind to keep your efforts inclusive. Make sure all your documents are accessible, whether digital or physical, to ensure that any training or instructive materials can be used easily by a volunteer who is visually impaired. Another good idea is to remove any hazards, such as boxes or ladders, from walkways in offices or volunteer sites to avoid obstacles in navigation. Along these lines, take the time to guide volunteers through any work sites so they can become familiar with the space and do their work most efficiently. For additional considerations on making your organization inclusive for volunteers who are blind or have low vision, check out this article from Volgistics on How to Engage Volunteers with Vision Loss.