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Success Story

Gordon, 88, of Waterloo lives in a retirement community. Although he had vision problems for more than a decade, in 2007 he experienced a sudden change in his eyesight, when awoke from an afternoon nap to increased vision loss.

As a result, Gordon believed he could no longer do things he used to do for himself. He either sought assistance from others or gave up things he enjoyed. Instead of preparing his own lunch or going out with friends, he had soup delivered to his apartment each day. Gordon started sending more laundry to the dry-cleaners instead of washing it himself. He also gave up his evening snack of popcorn due to his inability to see the microwave panel.

Initially, Gordon had indicated that he didn’t need much from the Department for the Blind. He was content with the arrangements he had in place. Or, at least, he thought he was. With the help of an independent living teacher, Gordon marked the popcorn button on his microwave using a raised bump he could easily feel. This way, he no longer had do go without his evening snacks. Gordon also missed reading the paper and wanted to have access to it again. He applied for the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service (IRIS), a free service offering audible access to local papers and various other publications through a radio device. He now enjoys the service and has access to the daily local news, obituaries and more programming.

Gordon also decided he wanted to do his own laundry. So, after his washer and dryer were marked with raised dots in a similar way to his microwave, he was able to keep up with his laundry.

These simple modifications allowed Gordon to cook again and regain his independence at home.

Although his level of cooking is basic, he knows it is his choice to cook or not. If he wants to order soup to be delivered to his house, he can—but he doesn’t have to. He has also learned techniques for identifying items in his pantry and for pouring hot and cold liquids.

In addition to obtaining a Bible on cassette through the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Gordon listened to an audio book his son had gotten for him. Gordon enjoyed the book and soon started requesting audio books through the Library. He is now a regular borrower.

When his vision worsened and he struggled to make phone calls on his own, Gordon relied on office staff at the retirement community to help him. Knowing that he wanted to be more independent in this facet of daily life, he purchased a device that lets him search phone numbers and, with the push of a button, dials the number he selects. Gordon now makes phone calls for himself.

With encouragement from others at the retirement community, Gordon began using a white support cane. Gordon has found this to be beneficial in making others aware of his vision loss and provides him with a tool to help him move around safely. Gordon now walks two miles a day as the weather allows.

Gordon says he feels more independent thanks to the Department. “The services I have been afforded by the Department have been wonderful. In particular the lending library and you coming in to help me.”