Blind and independent

February 20, 2008 7:25:31 PM PST
One of the challenges people face when losing their vision is living independently. But it is possible with some adaptations and a good sense of humor.

You never realize how precious your vision is until it starts to fade away. Mary Abramson, who is legally blind, had some vision until recently.

Abramson takes pride in her home.

"The credit goes to my friend, Char. She's very talented. She has a good eye for a bargain, and she loves to spend my money," said Abramson.

Until recently, Mary was only able to see colors.

"I was born legally blind, because I don't have an iris, so through the years I have developed other eye diseases in front, like cataract and glaucoma, and gradually my vision has gotten worse through the years," Abramson said.

Now she has trouble distinguishing colors.

"I'm going to have to label things, put maybe some Braille tags on my clothing. I have trouble with navy blue and black, so I put my black shoes in a bag with a Braille tag, for example, then that way I always know that I have the black shoes and not one blue and one black," said Abramson.

Keeping her home clean is one of the most difficult things for Mary to do now.

"I like things clean and organized 'cause it makes my life easier," she said. "You know, if there's cobwebs or maybe a spot on the rug, those aren't things I see, and I may not be able to feel them either, so I need to be constantly vigilant or remember to ask friends or whatever."

Being organized and having a great memory helps.

"I try to put things away where they belong, and I have had to develop a good memory to remember where things are, 'cause I don't just walk in the room and look around and see where it is. I also have started labeling a lot of things, because I'm taking more medication, so I label in Braille the pill bottle or maybe a few vegetable or canned goods that where it's really important I know exactly what it is."

A lot of Mary's independent living training came from the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

"For the past forty years actually I've attended different programs at the Lighthouse, and they have been very helpful, and made a big difference in my life."

Mary says she has a lot of oops moments.

"When I'm trying to walk around, maybe in an unfamiliar place and I lose my balance and fall, you know, the panty hose goes, the dress goes over the head, and five different good looking guys come up and try to help lift me up. So that's life. I just get up and keep going."

Mary Abramson also said that access to transportation is critical for people who are blind and visually impaired. For information on Chicago's Lighthouse for People who Are Blind and Visually Impaired, visit their website Or call (312) 666-1331.