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Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 5:17 am | Fair 50º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Managing Business Affairs With Low Vision

Simplify your life with technology

Handling your business and personal affairs can be a delicate balancing act: keeping track of multiple bank accounts, monthly budgets, bills and everything in between. And if you have low vision or have recently been diagnosed with an age-related eye disease such as Macular Degeneration, the process can become overwhelming and frustrating.

So how do you adapt to life with low vision and also keep up with the demands of your day-to-day financial affairs?

The key is to incorporate new techniques into your financial planning routine. If you realize that the small print on your checks or bank statements is becoming difficult to read, call your bank and request large-print checks and deposit slips. They cost the same as standard checks and banks are required to provide them to you upon request.

Many banks also have ATMs with large-print touch screens, talking features and raised type. Remember, in the age of identity theft, always enter your PIN number yourself when using a debit card. Never allow anyone else to do it for you.

Technology Is Your Friend

For people dealing with vision issues there are a variety of devices on the market that can make everything from reading the newspaper to organizing your bills a lot easier.

“I see hundreds of clients a year and the majority of them have lost some vision due to age-related eye diseases,” said Braille Institute Low Vision Rehabilitation Specialist Leslie Burkhardt. “My first objective is to show them that incorporating simple technology such as hand-held lighted magnifiers into their daily routines can make their lives easier, rather than more complicated.”

Access Technology Specialist Greg Benavidez, of Braille Institute’s Santa Barbara Center, also helps his clients connect with technology that can make their lives easier and more fulfilling. Some of the available resources for people with low vision include software such as Zoom Text, a program that allows text to be magnified up to 36 times its normal size on a computer screen. This can be a great tool for people who would otherwise have trouble reading the small print on their computer.

“It’s important for people to realize that you can continue to manage your life independently, even with low vision,” Benavidez said. “We help people learn how to do things differently, how to simplify their lives so that they can do all the things they did before their vision started fading.”

Streamline Your Process

One of the most common concerns people with low vision have about handling their finances is their handwriting ability. To overcome difficulty locating signature lines on checks or other documents, Braille Institute also offers free signature guides and templates that have slots to define writing areas. These items make signing your name a snap.

If shuffling grocery lists with hastily scribbled notes isn’t as easy as it used to be, online shopping is also an option and can even save you money. When you do head out to shop, visit the store’s website first to see what items they carry. When grocery shopping, organize your list to follow the layout of the store to avoid backtracking. And don’t forget, many grocery stores now offer home delivery, which can save you a trip.

At Braille Institute’s Santa Barbara Center, located at 2031 De La Vina Street, clients learn everything from how to use computers to pay bills online, to using simple techniques and tricks to make managing their finances less of a hassle. They also learn how to use devices such as closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) for the magnification of printed materials like letters and bills. But most importantly, they learn how to live fulfilling lives with low vision. And all of the services offered at the Santa Barbara Center are free of charge. If you would like more information about the free services offered by Braille Institute, please call us at 805.682.6222 or visit our Web site.

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