How To Be Your Own Advocate

How To Be Your Own Advocate

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

“I need your help. But please remember, there is a fine line between helping me help myself, and doing it for me, leaving me with a feeling of helplessness and dependency.  Sometimes, because everything seems so much more difficult, I just wish you would take care of it all for me.  But down deep, for my own psychological well-being, I know I must create my new independence.”   Perhaps this paragraph from a Letter to Friends and Family from the book Insight Into Low vision, reflects your own feelings about how you are dealing with your vision loss. Things you used to do quickly and easily, now take longer with more effort leaving you feeling frustrated while other tasks you used to perform have been delegated to others making you feel dependent and perhaps a burden.  There are several strategies you can take to learn how to balance that fine line of receiving help and learning how to perform tasks independently in spite of your vision impairment. Here are some tips on how you can be your own advocate with your friends, your family and others.


  1. Maintain Independence

Because simple tasks may take longer or become more difficult to perform it’s easy to allow others to do it for you.  Be perceptive and aware of what you can do with the help of different aids, magnifiers or low vision technology and what you can’t do anymore.  Peggy Wolf, who lives with vision loss from wet macular degeneration and author of Vision Loss: Strategies for Living with Hope and Independence shares this tip.   “Maintain independence by deciding what help you want to accept and when you want to actively seek help in a particular area of your life.  This will help you maintain the satisfaction that comes with being actively in control of your life.”


  1. Inform Others About Your Loss of Vision

Friends, family, store clerks, and others do not know what you can or cannot see. Let them know.  For example, tell your friends that you cannot see faces so you may not recognize who they are until they speak to you or get up really close.  When you are at a doctor’s office, let them know of your visual losses so that they can be more understanding of your slowness in filling out forms or navigating hallways. If you can’t read a price tag, you may explain to the store clerk, “I have poor vision, do you mind telling me the price?”


  1. Seek Help from Low Vision Specialists

Identify what hobby or activity you need help with and ask your low vision specialist if there are any visual aids or tips that would be of help to you.  You will need different aids for different tasks.  Something as simple as a talking watch or a voice activated smart phone can make a big impact in your daily living.


  1. Participate in a Low Vision Support Group

Find out if there is a low vision support group in your area where you can learn from others how they are managing their vision losses and what aids have been particularly helpful to them.


  1. Be a Constant Student

Learn about living with vision loss from books, videos, podcasts, or seminars. There are many good resources on how to live with low vision and maintain your independence.  One such resource is  The April 2017 webinar provides helpful information on many devices that can help you maintain your independence:  Assistive Technology in the Middle Lane by Dan Roberts.



Leslie Degner, RN, BSN