'Tools for Living' at Chicago Lighthouse

June 13, 2010 10:04:38 AM PDT
Shopping for adaptive living tools can be challenging for people with disabilities and their families.The Chicago Lighthouse for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired came up with a solution.

Two months ago, a state-of-the-art tools for living store opened in the front of Chicago Lighthouse.

It was designed to give people who are blind and visually impaired a shopping experience where they can find items that are adapted for them.

The 1,200-square foot facility has a full staple of products that includes talking clocks and watches, kitchen appliances, sunglasses, canes, health and beauty items, and a wide range of adaptive technologies that helps people who are blind or visually impaired live independently.

"You wouldn't think so, but it is an extremely new concept," said Dr. Janet Szlyk, executive director of Chicago Lighthouse. "It presents itself as a model system for retail for people who are visually impaired or blind and with the wide aisles, the large-print price tags, the light contrasting colors, comfortable place where our clients and their families can learn about the tools that are available to them."

There's also Tom's Corner, manned by staff member Tom Perski.

"We just made a small table where we can actually sit down and take our time and go through many of the products and the technology especially," said Perski.

"I will you know reach behind me and bring out maybe a product to show that might be interesting for them I have a TV right behind me where we can maybe plug a lot of these things into the television set to show how these products work at home, as well as the products that would work at school or on the go," Perski said. "We have some of the traditional desktop CCTV that have been so helpful for persons like myself over the years."

"Portable CCTV that have been introduced on the market so these can be taken to the store, the restaurant to read a menu and so we display a lot of those new types of devices," Perski said.

The Tools for Living Store will make things easier for people who are blind or visually impaired.

"Patients would come to me and ask where do I find devices to do such and such and to continue reading, and I would refer them to particular place. But there wasn't one place where they could come and make those purchases, and nevermind a place that would demonstrate for them by a talented staff of experts," said Dr. Janet Szlyk.

There are also items that people with sight would enjoy, like a coffee maker.

"You simply program it with your voice and tell it when you want your coffee to be made," Dr. Szlyk.

"We have long sleeve kitchen mitts so that people with visual impairment don't get burned," Szlyk said.

"They have a new device that I thought was funny called The Wild Bacon. It is actually a bacon cooker where you put it into the microwave and there's no burning, no splashing or burning yourself," the doctor said.

"That's why we call it Tools for Living," said Szlyk.

The Tools for Living Store is open weekdays from 9 to 5. The Chicago Lighthouse for people who are blind or visually impaired is located at 1850 West Roosevelt Road in Chicago. The telephone number is 312.666.1331.

For more information, log onto www.chicagolighthouse.org.


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