Helpful tips for September 2016

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 answer. 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. *Your Toolbox: 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 page. Basic Tools Screwdrivers, both straight slot and Phillips If you’ve done any home repairs at all, you’re familiar with both types of screwdrivers: . 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. Hammers . 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. Safety First . 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 & Dyslexic). -for-veterans-coping-with-vision-loss/veterans-services-and-other-resources/ 1235 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 * -for-veterans-coping-with-vision-loss/veterans-services-and-other-resources/ 1235 . . 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 members-only website. * . 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 scam alerts! Available for download at and from iTunes and Google music play! Follow me on Twitter @accessibleworld and at author_jodhan And like me on Facebook at and at]]>

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