Making Christmas Accessible for Vision Impaired People
By Elin Williams
Colourful lights blinking in windows, big scarfs curled around us in an attempt to fend off the cold, and the oh so famous songs inviting our attention to an out of tune singalong; it can only mean one thing, the festive season is upon us! This time of year greets us with a cocktail of scents and tastes, but it can also be an incredibly visual time which can prove challenging for vision impaired people.
Personally, there are times during the tail-end of the year where I find myself longing to see the world like everyone else; it’s a dull ache that’s lodged in an often disregarded arena in the corner of my mind.
But, over the past few years, I’ve tried to find ways of remedying this. How, do you ask? Well, by identifying some of the ways in which I can make Christmas accessible to me as a vision impaired person. I thought I’d share a few of those with you today. Tis the season for sharing, after all!
There is no doubt that Christmas will come with unfamiliarities for us all this year, but I hope you and your loved ones will be able to seek some quality time together, and find a little joy in what has been a year like no other. Wishing you all the love, safety and health during this festive season.
MAKING CHRISTMAS ACCESSIBLE AS A VISION IMPAIRED PERSON
ACCESSIBLE CARDS AND LABELLING
Sending cards and labelling gifts doesn’t have to be done in the traditional, often inaccessible, sense. If you’re after an accessible way of noting a little message for your loved one that they can read independently, why not consider doing so in their preferred accessible format? Braille, large print, or perhaps even audio labels; your options don’t have to be limited.
For me, the festive season can often come complete with a stronger sense of loss. Therefore, being able to read cards and labels independently can make all the difference.
IT’S ALL IN THE DESCRIPTION
One of the things I’ve always found tricky about Christmas is not being able to have that initial reaction to a present when opening it like a fully sighted person would. Everyone’s preferences will vary when it comes to this, so it’s important to ask first, but I personally prefer to be told what I’ve unwrapped, rather than trying to gage what the gift might be by touch. I love descriptions of my surroundings during this time of year too; I think you can get really creative with the way you detail the colours of lights, the type of decorations, etc etc, and you can bring the world to life for a vision impaired person through the descriptions you create.
REMOVING THE CLUTTER
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped over a disregarded bauble, or found myself tangled in a web of sellotape during the festive season Sometimes it’s nice for the house to be laden with Christmassy chaos, but it can prove a little hazardous for vision impaired people. Keeping the inevitable clutter to a minimum can make for a more accessible (and safe) Christmas for everyone.
If you’re infamous for remedying the food coma with a host of games, picking an accessible game is often your best bet to strengthen that inclusivity. Whether it’s an accessible board game that you can find in braille or large print, a quiz, or another Christmas classic of your choice, injecting accessibility into an activity doesn’t have to erase the festive cheer.
AUDIO DESCRIBED FILMS
If your preference is to curl up in cosy PJs and blankets after the last of the chocolates have been devoured, why not scroll through the TV guide or streaming service for a festive film with audio description? It’s great to see more being made available with AD these days, and it ensures an enjoyable and accessible little treat for everyone.
These are just a few suggestions to elevate accessibility and inclusivity during the festive season, but there’s no doubt that there are plenty more options too.
What does an accessible Christmas look like to you?