It never fails. Just when you think everything in your home is running
smoothly, a light bulb goes dim. Or maybe the troublesome bathroom faucet
has started dripping again. And that railing on the basement staircase? It’s
been shaky for a while now. Better see about getting it fixed.
Not too long ago, you may not have thought twice about performing these home
repairs yourself in your spare time. But with the onset of vision loss, such
tasks may seem harder and less safe. It’s natural to feel unsure about
acting as your own handyman, or woman.
It may surprise you to learn that a great many people who are blind or
visually impaired regularly complete such tasks safely and successfully,
often without any assistance or special training. What’s required are some
basic skills and the right tools, backed up by good measures of
self-confidence and persistence.
This section was designed with these needs in mind. Take things a step at a
time and before long you’ll be ready to tackle many of the most common
household repair jobs. Remember, even if you ultimately turn a repair job
over to someone else, it’s always better to know about what should be done
and how to go about it. That knowledge puts you in charge.
In this section, first you’ll find an article on Your Tool Box
and a listing of sources of home repair
and wood working organizations, adapted tools, and accessible books
. Then you’ll find tips on
doing a variety of home repairs-be sure to check back regularly, as this
list will be updated.
If you find yourself in a fix, or have any home repair questions you need
answered, visit our Home Repairs Message Board
to find your
Top Five Reasons Why You Should “Do it Yourself”
1. Because you can.
2. Because it’s another opportunity to demonstrate to yourself and others
that you can live an independent life with vision loss.
3. Because of the rewarding and empowering feeling of accomplishment it
will give you.
4. Because it’s fun.
5. Because it saves money.
With the exception of projects that call for precise measurements, most
everyday household repair jobs won’t require any special tools adapted for
persons with vision loss. You can find just about everything you need at
your local hardware store or home center. If you find that you do need some
special tools, start your search at the Helpful Products
Screwdrivers, both straight slot and Phillips
If you’ve done any home repairs at all, you’re familiar with both types of
. Straight slot drivers have flattened tips that fit into screws and
bolts with a dash-shaped slot that runs along the head.
. Phillips drivers have four-pointed tips that fit into screws and
bolts with a plus sign-shaped slot at the head.
. The tips of screwdrivers are numbered from 1 to 4, depending on
the width and thickness of the tip. For most home repair purposes, a 2 or a
3 tip is adequate.
. Screwdriver handles come in differing shapes and sizes. Select the
handle that best fits your hand.
Tip: Try using a screwdriver with four or more exchangeable tips. The
advantage is that you’ll have one tool to keep track of, instead of several.
. There are many varieties of hammers on the market, from small
lightweight “tack” hammers to heavy framing hammers.
. Most have claws (straight or curved) opposite the hammer head,
which are useful for pulling out nails and prying up boards.
. For most home repair projects, a tack hammer and a standard
16-ounce hammer are most useful.
Tip: Steel handles are preferable to wooden ones. Wooden handles can break
if stressed. Also wooden handles can dry out, which can cause the hammer
head to fly off during use.
Pliers and Wrenches
. A standard pair of pliers, or channellock pliers, and a set of
adjustable crescent wrenches (that includes 8-, 10-, and 12-inch sizes)
should be sufficient for your tool box.
Tip: Vice grip pliers, which lock onto the object you’re working on and
thereby serve as a third hand, are a nice addition to your tool box.
Other Things to Keep Around
. A wide assortment of screws, bolts, and nails, so you can be
prepared for the unexpected.
. Duct tape, which is good for holding objects in place so you can
work with accuracy.
. A can of spray-on lubricant (like WD-40) for loosening stuck
hinges, dials, and gears.
. When working on anything electrical-even something as simple as
replacing a light bulb-be sure that the electricity is turned off and the
bulb has cooled before you begin.
. Explore the area around the project before you begin. Check over
the work area visually and with your hands, giving objects a light touch.
You will learn much and are not likely to injure yourself.
. Select the tools and parts you think you will need in advance.
Place items in a small open carrying box secured in a convenient location.
Always put tools back in the box once you’ve finished using to them to avoid
accidents and misplaced items.
* Resources for Home Repair and Woodworking
The following books on home repair are available through the National
Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
at the Library of Congress,
This is a program that provides books on cassettes and digital cartridges
for free for eligible persons. To make it easy to find and request the
books, you’ll find author, title, and call number below.
. Lipinski, Edward R. A Season-By-Season Guide for Maintaining Your
Home. RC 54745
. Jones, Peter. Indoor Home Repairs Made Easy. RC14420
. Kennedy, Terry. Fix It Before It Breaks Seasonal Checklist Guide
to Home Maintenance. RC 59610
. Vandervort, Donald W. The Home Problem Solver: The Essential
Homeowner’s Repair and Maintenance Manual. RC 52518
. Jackson, Albert. Popular Mechanics Complete Home How-To. RC 59731
Reader’s Digest has published a number of general home repair reference
guides, as well as publications on specific topics. One that might prove
helpful is The Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual, published by
the Reader’s Digest Association and recorded by Learning Ally
(formerly Recording for the Blind &
Community-based, Home Improvement, and Woodworking Groups
. Many mid-sized and large communities have home improvement and
woodworkers’ clubs comprised of individuals who have an interest in home
repairs and woodworking projects. Some are focused on sharing information
and techniques, while others are more social. These can be informative and
enjoyable, depending on the willingness of members to describe their
projects and techniques. They can be located by consulting Directory
Assistance or inquiring at building supply outlets.
. Tip: Most of the members of these organizations have little
experience with persons who have limited or no vision. Individuals in these
groups can, however, often be very helpful once they understand what a
person with a visual impairment may need and what skills you possess. Being
clear about what you may be able to see (if you have some residual vision)
and the techniques you have already figured out for yourself is critical to
getting the help and coaching you may need.
Sources of Training
. Some state and private rehabilitation centers, state schools for
the blind, and Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Centers
. offer training for blind and visually impaired persons using a
woodworking shop as the teaching laboratory. For resources in your immediate
area, you can check the AFB Directory of Services
. In many parts of the country, you can hear a nationally syndicated
call-in radio program called On the House
. Hosts James and Morris Carey and their guest experts have
extensive experience with home repair and construction projects. Callers
inquire about a wide range of topics and the Carey brothers answer questions
respectfully and with humor. The website contains a wide range of helpful
tips for accomplishing simple to complex home repair and construction tasks
. Tip: Although this program is not specifically directed to persons
with vision loss, the Carey Brothers try to understand the experience and
skills callers have. Being clear with them about what you may be able to see
(if you have vision) or the skills you have acquired if you have no vision
will enable them to respond thoughtfully to your inquiry.
. The American Council of the Blind hosts a web-based radio show
called The Blind Handyman .
. The hosts, who are blind, discuss a variety of home repair topics
and sponsor the Blind Handyman Listserv
. Woodworking for the Blind members have access
to over 500 hours of recordings of fine woodworking magazines on a
. Individual membership is open to all persons who are blind,
visually impaired or physically handicapped. There is also an active
listserv in which members exchange questions and suggestions regarding
woodworking projects, techniques, and tools.
From the pages of Donna’s diary
A visit to Halifax
Just imagine my excitement when I made my trip to Halifax in May 2014. It
was the first time for me traveling to this Eastern Canadian city; the
capital of Nova Scotia. A city with lots of history and one that played
such an important part in World War II as it served as one of the major
Naval bases to the allied troops. Halifax also played a major role in
trading during the 17th and 18th centuries; a triangular route between
England, North America, and the West Indies.
My flight to Halifax via Air Canada was very uneventful. I made sure before
hand to alert the airline that I was a Blind traveler and Air Canada
accommodated me all the way. The trip was a two hour one and upon landing I
was met by my longtime childhood friend Ruth Robillard. Ruth and I had not
seen each other for over 30 years so we had a lot to catch up on and boy did
we catch up with Ruth making me a very sumptuous dinner.
Halifax is a wonderful, friendly, and accessible city. People are very
friendly, bus drivers are eager to help, and the Nova Scotians that I met
were all very friendly and hospitable. Dining out turned out to be
noticeably cheaper than in Toronto and the cuisine was simply fabulous.
Most of all, the sea food was absolutely out of this world.
The weather in late May was quite pleasant with fresh breezes drifting in
from the Atlantic ocean, sunshine abounded, and sleeping at night was quite
pleasant. I have to tell you that Halifax boasts a very friendly and
accessible airport for those of us with vision loss. It is worth the while
to check out.
So why not plan a trip to lovely Halifax? Take the kids along for some very
interesting historical adventures. Sample the fine dining and take
advantage of those wonderful boat cruises around Halifax’s harbour.
I’m Donna J. Jodhan enjoying my travels.
To learn more about me, visit
On your next trip you could enrich your down time with some of my audio
mysteries. Take them with you wherever you go!
In the car, on the plane, on the bus or train, at the beach, anywhere!
Affordable, portable, (computer or i device) and you could either purchase
or Subscribe for unlimited access to my library at
and you can now take advantage of our free downloads here.
If you enjoy podcasts then check out my weekly one called take another 5!
From recipes to apps, and from mystery moment to tips for entrepreneur and
Available for download at http://www.takeanother5.com and from iTunes and
Google music play!
Follow me on Twitter @accessibleworld and at author_jodhan
And like me on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/donnajodhan and at www.facebook.com/authordonnajodhan]]>