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Great Holiday Gift Ideas 2016

As I’m writing this, my wife is unpacking Holiday decorations and has Christmas music playing on Pandora. The air in our house is just soggy with good will and love of our fellow man. The only problem with all of this seasonal festiveness is that it means that shopping is just around the corner. For me, this is a torture of which the Spanish Inquisition would have been proud.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Grinch is my role model, but the prospect of shopping makes me feel more like Ebenezer Scrooge than Tiny Tim. Shopping for someone who is blind or visually impaired only makes the challenge more daunting. In an effort to do my bit to spread a little seasonal joy, this post provides some suggestions to ensure that your gift won’t end up in the back of the closet with the tie you gave dad for his birthday.

Let’s start with a few basic guidelines.

  • Don’t assume you need to buy something from a company specializing in “blind” products. There are a lot of great gifts available from merchants you already patronize that would be perfectly appropriate. They will, almost certainly, be less expensive, easier to locate, and, if your selections are like mine, easier to return.
  • Shop around. Now, I know you’re thinking that this is obvious, but it’s not. Too many sighted family members or friends are so thrilled to locate a specialized item that they forget to do this, pay whatever is asked, and leave feeling proud of themselves for locating a hard-to-find present. Yes, some products are so unique that they may be one-of-a-kind, but many are offered by more than one outlet. The trick is knowing where else to look. Keep reading for suggestions.
  • To the extent that you can, check for the reputation of the product and the seller. Surprise, just as with the other products you buy, some manufacturers and some products for the blind and visually impaired market are better and more dependable than others. Again, the suggestions below will help with this.

While there are a number of sources you could consult, my personal favorite is the American Foundation for the Blind. Its reviews and recommendations are concise and thorough. The people doing the reviewing represent a wide spectrum of potential consumers; that is, some are totally blind while others have some useable vision. The following pages on their site will go a long way to ensure your gift is a real hit.

  1. An Anthology of Holiday Picks for 2016 and from Yesteryears is a great introduction to some of the best suggestions for technology (phones, digital magnifiers, digital assistants); games, both board and card; food delivery services, and more.
  2. Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired offers suggestions are pretty basic, but excellent for someone who has never shopped for someone who is blind or for someone who is losing their vision.
  3. Peer Advisors’ Holiday Gift Picks
    Written in November 2014, this page includes suggestions for cooking, exercising, entertainment, jewelry, specialty catalogues, and more.
  4. Accessible Kitchen Aids for Successful Holiday Cooking with Vision Loss
    This is an especially great resource for those who think their vision loss will prevent them from ever cooking. Even a hopelessly, pathetic cook like me has benefitted from some of these products.
  5. Helpful Products and Technology
    This page provides some particularly good guides, especially.
  6. AFB’s Product Guide
    This is a comprehensive listing of assistive technology products. It is the place to go to search for a product or manufacturer, find out what products are available, and decide which product is best for you or a family member. You can browse by task, product category, or manufacturer.
  7. Specialty Product Sources
    This is a really great comprehensive list of specialty resources. While mainline companies offer some products you might be interested in, there will still be many that are only available from firms specializing in the blind and low vision market. If this world is new to you, this is a great way to get introduced and be better informed.

Even if you’ve already done your Holiday shopping, these are good resources to hang on to for birthdays, Father’s and Mother’s Days, etc. Hopefully, they will convert “Ah, humbug” to “Just what I wanted.”

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