A few years ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with age related Macular Degeneration. As an avid, lifetime reader she is obviously frustrated with this condition. When reading regular print books became impossible she began reading large print books. However, after a time even those became difficult to read. A younger relative bought her a tablet and loaded an e-reader on it. With some assistance and practice she’s downloaded some books and increased the size of the print. She’s enjoyed reading several books in that format. However, the tablet has since “died” and with her vision growing worse, she is reluctant to get a new one.
On a visit earlier this year I put the link to LibriVox via archive.org on her desktop, then showed her how to find books and authors that she might like. She enjoyed listening to some short stories and looking for books. However, even with a large monitor with items magnified on the screen, failing eyesight has made using that computer difficult.
However, showing her the LibriVox link reminded her that many years ago one of her elderly relatives used to receive records of books from a blind association – probably a state branch of the American Association for the Blind. That reminder prompted her to ask her doctor about the availability of books for the blind. The doctor put her on the program and in a few days she received an audio book device made especially for the blind and vision impaired. Included were Braille, large print and audio instructions for using the device, how to order and return books, plus a few books already loaded on the device. She was also given the means of letting the association know which authors, books and types of books she liked.
In a short time she was ordering books, receiving items in the mail that should appeal to her taste in reading, and thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading through listening. Since receiving the device she has listened to several books, and plans to make a significant contribution to the association because of this particular service.
I’ve known people younger than my mother-in-law who have been confronted with major changes to their lives, among them unexpected handicaps. Some have accepted these changes and are adjusting their lifestyles as needed. Others haven’t been so accepting and are living in the past, or hoping for medical breakthroughs that are probably many years away. Oh well, we all have different ways of coping with the bumps and barricades in life’s road. I hope my eyes remain healthy and I won’t ever be confronted with a disease like Macular Degeneration. However, if anything like that ever does happen to me, I’ll remember my mother-in-law’s determination and willingness to adjust to the change and follow her example. Even though I may not be able to see anymore I’ll still continue to enjoy the pleasure of reading.
As a sort of “P.S.” to this blog, I wondered which other countries provide reading material for the blind and visually impaired. The following from the archive.org website has some information on this. https://blog.archive.org/2016/07/12/unlocking-books-for-the-blind-and-visually-impaired/