Holiday Preparations

During this month's Resource Roundtable, we explored entertaining, gift-giving, and navigating holiday outings, sharing specific ideas for those with vision loss. Let's enjoy the holidays with less stress and more fun.

November 20, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Resource Roundtable – Preparing for the Holidays

Presented by Jennifer Ottowitz and Debbie Good

November 20, 2019

Jennifer O: We're going to go ahead and get started with the main meat of our discussion and that's preparing for the holidays and there are lots of different ways to prepare. We're going to talk about some ideas for entertaining and navigating all the outings, social gatherings, getting through a lot of those, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about gift giving and some ideas to help you if you have friends and family who are maybe visually impaired, if you want to share ideas with your friends and family about gifts that might be helpful for you, as a person who is visually impaired, or if you're looking for gift ideas for yourself because it's okay to give a gift to yourself too around the holidays. There are some really fun resources out there and just our usual disclaimer is that Hadley, we're just presenting information so we're not endorsing one resource over the other. There's some really great ones out there and we're hoping in just a couple minutes, you'll be able to share some of your favorites as well.

But the first one I wanted to talk about is actually a gift giving guide that has been put out, 2019 Holiday Gift Guide, from AccessWorld and AccessWorld is an online magazine that is available from The American Foundation for the Blind and it's a monthly newsletter. You can sign up and receive by email and they usually have a lot of technology related articles and things like that but for the past couple of years, they put together a holiday gift guide and it's a listing of some ideas, certainly not all inclusive, but some really fun ones for different types of products and they give the resources of where you can get them.

Some of the items mentioned include a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons. There are nine measuring cups and 12 measuring spoons in this set. The smallest would be a measuring spoon that's 1/64th of a teaspoon and then all the way up to two cup measuring cup and these are nice sturdy plastic. The handles all have braille on them as well so if you know braille, you could read and distinguish which one they are. Even if you don't know braille, you may be able to just tell the difference between the shapes that the dots make and kind of get an idea of the differences between them but instead of filling up one measuring cup trying to fill up a glass measuring cup to the line, you have separate cups for all the different increments so that was kind of fun. They've got a lot of different cooking resources. They have mentioned a solar charger, which is a solar battery that you can use with iDevices and tablets and other devices and it charges from the sun, from bright indoor lights, you can hook it up to a computer, it'll recharge, or to a wall outlet, but it really extends the life battery, life of your devices, by using that battery.

And then they mention things like an Amazon Fire Stick, as one of the more techy items. Another thing that I thought was fun was they mentioned the idea of gift cards in terms of transportation services. Someone who's blind or visually impaired, I think all of you may have an understanding of this, that getting around is sometimes challenging and so we use a lot of different transportation options. If you do use ride share services like Uber and Lyft, sometimes getting a gift card for those services is really nice. That was fun that they mentioned that as well and we are going to share the actual web address where you can read through this guide and all the good suggestions they have in our show notes that will come out in about a week once the recording is available of this group. It's a little too long to read one of those email addresses that's really, really long but it is also available on The American Foundation for the Blind website. You can do a search for AccessWorld. It's all one word and AccessWorld 2019 Holiday Gift Guide as well.

The next fun resource for gift ideas is available on the Vision Aware website and I know that we've talked before about Vision Aware. What's really fun about this is they give suggestions for gifts from their peer advisors. These are professionals in the field of vision impairment and blindness education and rehabilitation and some of them are visually impaired themselves and they're sharing ideas for gifts and some are very similar to the AccessWorld list. They talk about maybe the gift of audio books, whether it's from or other sources. They mention maybe a light with a goose neck lamp to help make reading a little bit better, all different types of games, board games, playing cards, different kitchen gadgets again, and some other fun electronic items.

What I really love about Vision Aware's gift ideas though is if you follow the links, the first page has their suggestions for gift ideas, the next page has ideas for gifts that you can give. As a person who's blind or visually impaired, you can give gifts too, you don't always have to be the recipient, and they have patterns and ideas of patterns for making a couple of different craft projects and then also for a gift basket of food and then they have links to information about tips on how you might be able to perform some of the tasks involved with cooking or with crafting and then if you follow the link to the next page, they actually have a whole page related to holiday cocktails. If you're entertaining, they give you recipes for several different cocktails and then share some tips for how you can pour liquid without making a mess, how you can set up your work area to be neat and tidy and make it easier for you when you are pouring, some suggestions if you're cutting garnishes for your drinks to make it easier to do that, and even tips for plugging in the blender. If you're using the blender to make your cocktails, they give you some practical tips to help with that.

And then the next link to the next page takes you to some ideas for baking cookies and will link to tips on using the oven, measuring, different tasks that you would use when making cookies, and the last page that you get linked to is some more recipes for the holidays and, again, more links to tips to help with cooking. I thought that was a really nice resource, really fun, that covered a lot of areas and I was really happy it was all in one place to go.

Two more that I want to talk about. One is called Future Aids. It's a company out of Canada and they're also known as The Braille Superstore. They just recently came out, they had a holiday sale and in an email that they sent, they had ideas for stocking stuffers and these are not only relatively small, small enough to fit in a stocking, but they're also relatively inexpensive, so a lot of them are $10 or under and they were things like a talking watch, a talking keychain, maybe a pocket magnifier or a portable digital recorder. They even have a tactile Rubix cube puzzle, if you remember those. Well, this has shapes that you can feel on all the sides too so instead of lining up the squares, all the colors that are the same, you would line up all the shapes that are the same. Hence, they have a lot of different products, both talking, large print and braille, and I just ordered a braille Yahtzee set. I love Yahtzee, our family loved Yahtzee growing up and it doesn't have the score sheets in braille, you have to make those up yourself, but it was a wooden cog with five tactile dice so that's going to be really fun to play with the family.

And they even had different trays to hold cards. If any of you have braille playing cards, they're a little more, like I say, fluffier than the regular cards. They are a little puffier, hard to fit in some of the regular card trays and so this is a special card tray. They even make a travel card tray. Some nice things.

And then the last fun resource, and this is just a way that I think they market their products, but I always really liked it and that's the LS&S Group. LS&S, on their website, has products listed in a category called ... It's for Grandparents, Gifts For Grandparents, and under that, they have gifts for Grandma and Gifts for Grandpa. You can always direct your family to these gifts. Of course, these products are really good for people of any age but it's just nice that they market that way to make it a little bit easier for folks to find ideas that might be suitable. Another thing that was mentioned back on the Vision Aware website was the idea of gifts of time and something that you can talk with your family about is just asking them to help maybe do certain tasks.

Maybe it's putting your favorite recipes from regular print into large print or typing them into the computer so they can be printed out in large print or maybe it's taking all the addresses and phone numbers that are maybe scattered all over the place or written in smaller print, putting that into the computer so it can be printed off in large print and you can easily change things when somebody moves, say you need to add new numbers, just to make things a little bit easier, or they may give you the gift of time by helping give you a ride to the grocery store or there was one of the ladies Vision Aware said her kids got her the gift of cleaning. They paid for a year's service of Merry Maids to help with cleaning that she was very appreciative of.

I'm going to stop right there. Those were just a few ideas to get you started. I wanted to throw it out to all of you and see if any of you had any particular, either favorite gifts this holiday season, for yourself, for anyone who is visually impaired, or if you have resources that you really like to get gifts from. Debbie, I'm going to turn it over to you.

Debbie G: Yes, let's hear from Lyn.

Lyn: Yeah. One thing I want to address that I think is really important, I'm not exactly sure how we can address this, but when it comes to gift certificates and gift cards, like the gift cards that have the code on them, for example, an Amazon gift card. If you're giving a gift card to a blind person, it's actually better to give them one that you send by email or make sure that you send them the information by email or somehow in braille or something because every Christmas, I have a stack of cards that I can't use because somebody has to tell me what the codes are on them and sometimes you can scan them but ... And I guess this year I can use Aira, whatever they call it, but when you have the information on the gift card that you're going to need, you can start using it right away

Jennifer O: That is an excellent point, that really is, because that's something that a lot of people forget about. Along with the gift card, give the information. You can put it in large print if the person's a braille reader and you're able to put it into braille for them, emailing it to them is a great way to do that, or just emailing the gift card so they can go online to use it to, right?

Lyn: Or however, even putting it on their answering machine or something.

Jennifer O: Right.

Lyn: Just somewhere in maybe audio format somehow so they can access it straight away.

Jennifer O: Absolutely, yes, because you want to make sure to use those up right away when you can.

Lyn: That's exactly, yeah.

Jennifer O: Fabulous. Thank you. That's an excellent point to bring up so appreciate it.

Debbie G: Let's hear from Charles.

Charles: Okay. There's an organ ... I went down to the Low Vision Center today and they told me that if you order things from Maxi Aids, you can get the part number and so forth and instead of ordering from Maxi Aids, order it from them, there's this IFB Solutions and what they do, they send kids there, visually impaired, from summer camp and they give you a discount from the price that's off at Maxi Aids themself, and their phone number is 828-761-2468. Whatever you get at Maxi Aids, if you order it from them, the proceeds go to help some kids go to summer camp that's visually impaired and they also told me that I can get a free computer and I said, "I didn't know anything about that." I said, "It doesn't have to be a low vision clinic. I went to South North Carolina." I said, "Do you have to live in North Carolina?" But he said, "No, it's any ... You can live anywhere in the United States, but the organization is Computers for the Blind and it's based out of Texas." And I think he said, "It's a non-profit organization." I guess it would be and I guess you contact them and he said they're refurbished computers and they have JAWS and ZoomText. Are you familiar with that?

Jennifer O: I am. Yes, I have heard of them. They do really good work and that would be an excellent holiday present, right? That's a treat to yourself.

Charles: Yeah, exactly. The last computer I got was a couple thousand dollars so I think it really would be.

Jennifer O: Yeah, and that would be a great topic for an upcoming discussion group too, is to share a little bit more about them and the services that they provide so thanks for bringing that up, Charles, appreciate it.

Charles: Yeah. They also have some neat little gadgets. The cane I had was real heavy, they had some real light weight canes that I think you just about forget that you have it in your hand.

Jennifer O: That's the kind I use. I use a graphite cane because it's much lighter.

Charles: Yeah, that's what they have.

Jennifer O: They're really nice to work with, too.

Charles: I think mine must have come off the mountain when Moses came down.

Jennifer O: Thank you so much for sharing.

Charles: They also had a scale, a talking scale, for your kitchen, and they had a pot that had a lock on lid so if you have only one hand, you could use this pot. When I first saw it, it was shown by all these talking gadgets and I asked him, "What is this, a talking pot?" And he said, "No, it's just a pot with a lock on the lid."

Jennifer O: Was it really great when you're draining pasta and macaroni and you don't want it to all fall into the sink, keep it in the pot.

Charles: Yeah. I have that problem. You have to dish it out of the sink then.

Jennifer O: Yeah, exactly.

Charles: Okay, I'll let you go.

Jennifer O: Well, thank you so much for sharing, Charles. And you bring up a good point that sometimes from different agencies might be supporting other efforts like the HFC that supports cancer for kids. I know that sometimes with Amazon Prime, you can enter the name of an organization and they will receive some funds from your purchase. Some of your local blind organizations maybe. I believe Hadley is one of those organizations, too.

Debbie G: Yes, I'm going to cut in there, Jennifer. It's called AmazonSmile.

Jennifer O: Thank you, thank you, not Prime. Thank you, I appreciate that. Yes, AmazonSmile, there you go.

I think one of the most interesting presents we got one year, from my brother in law, was there was a star registry and you could have a star named after you or named after a particular person so it came with the paperwork that told you exactly where it was in the universe and everything. That's for the person that has everything, I guess, right? All right. Well, thank you, Charles. Debbie, any other hands?

Debbie G: Yes. Let's hear from Barb. Go ahead, Barb.

Barb: Hi, this is Barb. Recently, I was listening to a podcast, I want to say it was Alphabet, and he was talking about that you can get an app for your iPhone or for your phone. Say you know someone who wants a specific app that's going to cost $10-15, but you can purchase it as a gift and send it to anyone who wants it.

Jennifer O: That's a fabulous idea because now there's an app for everything, like they say, right?

Barb: Right. And not all of them are free.

Jennifer O: No, unfortunately. And there are a lot of nice ones out there that you'd like to have too so that's a fabulous idea, I like that idea. Great, thank you for sharing that too.

Debbie G: We don't have any more questions so you can keep going, Jennifer.

Jennifer O: But we're going to move on and talk about another part of preparing for the holidays and we all know it can be a really exciting time, a fun and festive time. It can also be sometimes a little stressful and for some people, they may experience a little more depression around the holidays, especially if they're still adjusting to changes in their vision, they might still be grieving their loss of vision. And so, being able to talk to folks, talk about your feelings, talk about your concerns, is very important and I'm actually going to turn it over to Debbie, who's going to share some information about a couple of resources that are available to help have a place to talk to folks and then also some ideas to help with kind of just relieving a little bit of the stress. Debbie, take it away.

Debbie G: Sure. I'd like to tell everyone about the Eye2Eye helpline. It's the word 'eye', E-Y-E, then the numeral 2, and then the word 'eye' again. It's E-Y-E-2-E-Y-E and we'll have the link in the show notes, but this is a brand-new support group. It's a reciprocal support group. It's peers who are also visually impaired and so I gave it a try today. I called up and I spoke to Tracy and she lost her vision eight years ago and so she's very interested in helping other people cope with it. What they will do, there's only four people working for them now, they hope to expand it. They're based in New Jersey, so they do offer some referrals to New Jersey but many of their resources are for anyone. In fact, she will offer tips and hints to get people functioning around the house or out of the house and she will just be a good listener and help people with goal setting, just breaking down things that are very difficult and making goals out of them.

She had a very friendly voice and she was very excited to learn about Hadley, she didn't know about us. She went on the website and she was so excited and the reason that this helpline is especially helpful in this time of the year is Jennifer said that depression happens and then, just in general, they've found that a third of people with vision loss suffer from depression and anxiety and this is all year round. And so, this is has gone largely unaddressed in the medical community because they focus more on the practical problems but now it's time to deal with the emotional problems or the emotional issues. It's Rutgers University who has launched this nation's first peer support group, Help Blind for the Legally Blind and Their Families. It's for ages 18 and up and they said it's 24/7 but that's probably a goal because when I called in the evening, it was the voicemail and it said, "If this is an emergency or if you're suicidal, call 911." Otherwise leave your information, they did call me back the next day. It was actually Dr. John Ferdinand and [inaudible] called me and left a message and then I spoke to Tracy and she said she will talk to people as long as they want and they will call people back if they want or they'll just leave them alone. It's definitely taking the cue from the person who calls.

It was very exciting to learn about this and talk to Tracy and just hear her very friendly and supportive voice. That's one helpful option is the Eye2Eye helpline. And another free resource is meditation. Now, for some people, meditation seems kind of strange and 'why would I want to do that?' But it can be as simple as just focusing on your breathing and going through different parts of your body to relax them. I found something in Ark Magazine and it's called the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. If you google that, you would be taken to a site where there's free guided meditations. Right now, they have eight of them in English and they're all the way from five minutes long to, I think, 18 minutes long so you can choose the length of it and they also had four in Spanish so, of course, I was very excited to hear about that. UCLA Mindful Awareness Resource Center.

You could also install some free apps, which include Insight Timer and Stop, Breathe and Think. These are all no cost. And so, for that meditation on the computer, I thought, "Oh, I'll just try it out." And so, I did the five minute one and it was actually very relaxing. It just had people center and focus on their breathing and before I knew it, the five minutes was up and I really did feel a little bit more relaxed. I hope you try them out and you can report back to Jennifer and we'll have this information, again, in our show notes.

Jennifer O: And for those of you that know Debbie Worman, you may know that she did a podcast for Hadley on mindfulness and so this is a topic near and dear to her heart so I know she's going to be very excited about these resources too and definitely, during the hustle and bustle of the holiday, just finding time to slow down and breathe and relax for a little bit and just take some of that stress away is a really good thing. It's nice to know that these are out there and they're free, right, Debbie?

Debbie G: Yes, these are all free.

Jennifer O: Great. Do you know, Debbie, is the Eye2Eye help... Well, you mentioned that they say 24/7 but it doesn't matter, you can call from anywhere in the country, it's open to everybody, right?

Debbie G: Yes, it's open to everyone, definitely.

Jennifer O: Excellent. Thank you. And again, that number will be in our show notes document and if you're not able to access that online, you can always call Hadley, ask to speak to Jennifer Ottowitz and I can make sure that you get that information too.

Debbie G: Can I just tell everyone the phone number?

Jennifer O: Yeah.

Debbie G: To add in because there will be a recording then too.

Jennifer O: Sure.

Debbie G: Okay. It's 833-932-3931. Let me repeat. 833-932-3931. That's it.

Jennifer O: Great, thank you. And then, for some reason, if you need it again, feel free to email, call, and it'll be in the show notes also. All right. Okay. There is one more support group that I wanted to share with you all and this is based out of an organization in Wheaton, Illinois, called Spectrios Institute but it's available to anyone. You don't have to be a client of Spectrios and it's a monthly support group that meets on the second Wednesday of every month from seven o'clock pm to eight o'clock pm, central time, and it meets over the telephone and it's led by Leah Gerlach, who is a licensed counselor. She is also visually impaired herself and she's just really interested in helping people talk through any problems they may be having and really help, again, similar to Tracy and the folks at the Eye2Eye helpline, just helping you kind of sort through your feelings related to visual loss, talk about practical solutions, but, again, focusing on the emotional side of things as well, and their phone number is 712-432-5610 and then you enter the access code 660. And so, that, again, will be in the show notes as well.

This past week, last week, they had the topic for their discussion was about the holidays and talking about the feelings associated with how do you handle family gatherings, social events, where you may feel you want to participate, where you may feel a little left out, or maybe you're not able to do things in the same way that you did in the past because of your vision and that's kind of weighing on your mind and soul. That was the topic for last week and, again, it's just another great resource to be able to talk and share with people and get the insights and some help that you may need.

I wanted to open it up now to all of you because I know related the holidays, whether you're the one doing the entertaining, whether you're the one attending family functions, social functions, I'm curious to know what strategies have you used or what practical tips, just how you found to help address some of the issues that you might have been feeling related to your visual loss. How do you move around safely in a really crowded room? How do you keep track of everybody? How do you handle preparing all the food? And all the little tips and tricks and are there any holiday traditions that you started new because some of the ones that maybe you used to do weren't quite the same because of your vision? I'm just curious to see how you guys handle the holidays.

Debbie G: And before we do that, we have a question or comment from Lyn, which I think was on the resources that we just mentioned.

Jennifer O: Sure.

Debbie G: Yeah. Go ahead, Lyn.

Lyn: Hi. Can you guys hear me okay?

Jennifer O: Yep.

Lyn: Okay. There's another organization out of California that's called Well Connected. It's an organization called Well Connected and I don't have the contact info for them but I just joined them, and it's free, and it's for visually impaired, blind and visually impaired individuals. They do have a lot of seniors in that group but they do a lot of different workshops and they have an exercise class and it's all over the phone.

Jennifer O: Fabulous.

Lyn: Yeah. It's an organization out of California and I went to their exercise class the other day and it was fantastic. Yeah, and it's free.

Jennifer O: Wonderful.

Lyn: I wanted to say that and I wanted to make another comment about the holidays and I think that I find the holidays very stressful. My sister passed away a few months ago. We have a big family so everything is just different this year but I think sometimes, the important thing, I think, is to stop and remember that the holidays, things don't have to be perfect. The idea is getting together with family or, in other words, I think people stress too much over the small details instead of saying, "Okay, this family gathering is about getting together with people and sharing. It's not about having perfect cooking or having a really expensive present. I think sometimes we have too high expectations about the holidays instead of sitting back and saying, what is this holiday all about? It's all about sharing, it's all about being together, and that's really the important thing, I think.

Jennifer O: And I would agree. That's an excellent point. If the sausage isn't cut perfectly on the meat tray, if the centerpiece is a little off center on the table, it's okay, right? And family is what it's about and being with each other and sharing good times, warm memories, and making new ones too.

Lyn: And also, the holidays, if it's just not your time, just remember, it'll be over soon, just hang in there.

Jennifer O: That's true, too.

Lyn: And sometimes you have to tell yourself that. You just have to say, "Look, I just have to get through this and it will be over soon."

Jennifer O: That's right. Absolutely. It's always tough when you lose a loved one, the first time through everything, the first time through the holidays, but hopefully it'll be a time with good memories for you too. Thank you very much. Lyn, real quick, I did have a question with the resource that you mentioned in California, is it only available to people in California, do you know?

Lyn: No.

Jennifer O: Okay.

Lyn: No, I'm in Delaware and they had a note in our association, Delaware Association for the Blind, or whatever they call it now, they changed it, Blindsight Delaware. They had a note about it in their newsletter, that's how I found out.

Jennifer O: Fabulous. Okay, great. Thank you. And we can look that up and share their number with folks too.

Lyn: Yeah, great.

Debbie G: I have a question for Lyn. Did you say that there was an exercise class over the phone?

Lyn: Yes.

Debbie G: How does that work?

Lyn: Well, they use the Zoom platform, just like you guys do, or you can call in and the person explains the exercises and how to do them and counts out. There's music in the background and you can actually put on your video, which I didn't dare do. I don't necessarily want people seeing me, but you can, and for people that can see, they do have a video thing that you can turn on if you want so you can see the teacher. But she does a beautiful job and it's just a basic stretch and strengthening. It's just a very basic, gentle thing. It's a half hour every Tuesday.

Debbie G: That's great. It's called Well Connected?

Lyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Debbie G: Is that or .com or something?

Lyn: I guess. I'm not really sure because I just called them but I can't remember. I know it's out of California. I wish I had more information but-

Jennifer O: That's okay. We can try to research that so that'll be great. Thank you. How fun. You can work off those holiday pounds that you gained after eating all that wonderful food.

Debbie G: We have two more people who would like to say something. Let's go to Judy. Go ahead, Judy.

Judy: I just wanted to go to a point that Lyn said that it will go past, the holidays don’t last forever. My thing that I always do, because I travel to my family and I only go up there once a year, I always talk myself through it. It's like, "Okay, you're going to go up there. You're not going to be as independent as you are in your own home. If people may over help or under help but just patience, patience, patience and prepare for things to go crazy at times."

Jennifer O: Yes, very important, that positive self-talk, right?

Judy: Yeah, exactly.

Jennifer O: And that's so true. When you're around family, especially family that maybe hasn't been around you a lot or you're in their home, not your home, you do tend to get sometimes the over help, sometimes the over protecting, and, again, you could make a big deal out of it but it's usually fine just to kind of get through it, it'll be okay, and you can help educate them maybe a little bit or maybe at another time but try to just enjoy their company, enjoy the moment and just talk yourself through it, right?

Judy: Yeah. And it's especially hard for my family because there's three of us with RP and we all have different levels of vision and we all have different levels of motivation to be independent.

Jennifer O: Yes.

Judy: Those are definitely factors.

Jennifer O: It's hard to know what to do for one versus the other versus the other. Yeah, exactly. No, thank you so much for sharing. Good point, very good point.

Debbie G: Okay, let's hear from Area Code 813.

Van: Yes. This is Van and I'm calling from Florida.

Debbie G: Hi Van, how are you?

Van: I'm doing well. The young lady that mentioned the exercise program Well Connected, is that exercise thing recorded where you can go back and review it? And my other thing is a comment, during the holidays, people are very lonely so I would suggest that if you are gathering with your family and your friends, invite someone who you think may be by themselves or may have just lost their sight or even a loved one may have passed away and they're feeling really depressed. It's kind of good to remember them because when we have family and friends, we sometimes forget that there are moments that other people are alone and need that support.

Jennifer O: And that feeling of being included and belonging and knowing that somebody cares, that's a tremendous gift that you can give somebody too. Good point. Good point to remember, thank you, and yes, a lot of times it can be isolating for lots of different reasons and reaching out and bringing those folks in and helping them feel loved and supported, really important. I'll throw back to Lyn for the question about the exercise group and just see if it's recorded, if you know.

Lyn: I don't think it is recorded but if you are looking for an exercise program that is recorded, there is one on YouTube and it's ... I'm trying to think of the name of it but it's free and she has ... Oh, my gosh, I don't remember. She used to sell the exercises but now they're free on YouTube.

Jennifer O: Oh, is that Eyes Free Fitness?

Lyn: Yes, that's right.

Jennifer O: Yes.

Lyn: Yeah, and they have some awesome stuff there. I don't know whether they posted their yoga things on there or not, but she does some nice gentle stretching and gentle yoga exercise and stuff like that so that's another option too.

Jennifer O: Yes, and I downloaded her stuff onto my phone, so I do the mini workout, whenever I'm inclined to. No, great. Yeah, there are some routines out there that you can access after the fact or anytime on demand that you'd like, in addition to joining live, so that's good to know. Excellent. Van, did you have any additional questions or comments to share?

Debbie G: Okay, just one minute.

Van: What was the name again? Was it Eyes for Fitness?

Jennifer O: Eyes Free Fitness.

Van: Spell that.

Jennifer O: E-Y-E-S, and the next word is 'free' as in no cost, F-R-E-E, Eyes Free Fitness.

Van: Okay, great.

Jennifer O: Sure.

Van: Thank you.

Jennifer O: Yep.

Debbie G: Jennifer, there are no more hands raised. Would you like to share any ideas about entertaining for the holidays?

Jennifer O: Yes. There are just some simple things that our family has done. I'm the only blind person, with my husband's family, he has low vision, but some things that they just do naturally to help everybody is they take a marker and write everybody's name on the plastic cups that we use so if you sit down a cup and you have vision to see it, you'll know which cup is yours, which I thought was really fun. At one holiday celebration, they had different tactile charms that you can put around the stem of a wine glass so then you would know if you set your cup down, you could feel the stem and know that it was your cup by the particular charm that was on there and I thought that was really nice.

Some other things, I think just making sure to let family know if you want to be included in holiday activities because sometimes they may assume that, "Well, because you're blind, we won't ask for her to bring anything to the gathering." But let them know that you'd love to contribute, even if you're not much of a cook or concerned about cooking, baking, offer to bring paper plates or buns, something else that might be needed, but let them know that you can and want to contribute too and be a part of things.

Debbie G: Okay. Jennifer, we have two hands raised. Let's go to Area Code 603.

Jodie: Hi, it's Jodie.

Jennifer O: Hey, Jodie.

Jodie: In New Hampshire, hi. I wonder, the fitness exercise program is Blind Alive.

Jennifer O: Yes, it's the same one. Eyes for Fitness, Blind Alive, it's the same one. You got it.

Jodie: Okay. And I also wondered if you can repeat the phone numbers for the Eye2Eye and the other support group.

Jennifer O: Sure. I'll do the Spectrios support group one first and that's going to be 712-432-5610.

Jodie: Okay.

Jennifer O: And then you have to enter a code number and that code is going to be 660.

Jodie: 660, okay.

Jennifer O: Okay.

Debbie G: And, Jodie, the Eye2Eye helpline is 833-932-3931.

Jodie: Okay. Thank you very much. And what was the other one called?

Jennifer O: It doesn't really have a name, it's just Spectrios Institute is the name of the organization.

Jodie: Okay.

Jennifer O: Otherwise, I don't have a name.

Jodie: Well, thank you.

Jennifer O: And I do love the sound of a braille writer so thank you. Music to my ears. Thank you.

Debbie G: Let's hear from Barb.

Barb: My question was, you asked how people cope with certain things during the holidays. Last year, I was the host at the Thanksgiving dinner, and I had two daughter-in-laws, who basically just came in and took over. They finished cooking the meals, they cleaned the kitchen, did not put things back where they belonged so I couldn't find them. How do y'all deal with situations like that?

Jennifer O: That's a great question. Well, I will tell you, Barb, I have a similar situation. I have 19 people coming over. Well, there's going to 19 of us total at Thanksgiving and we're hosting and usually when my sister-in-laws come, they do kind of take over the kitchen and I've learned to just step away. I have trained them though and I just gently tell them, "Can you please put things back where you found it?" I try to swoop in at dish time and, "Let me dry the dishes", because then at least I'll know I'll be putting them back where they're supposed to go. That's a little trick, "Oh, here, let me dry. I'm happy to do that."

And a lot of times, afterward, you have to go around the house and be careful and check because you'll find things in places that you don't expect them to be, a glass left or food left. And I think just talking to them either beforehand or after, sometimes in the heat of the moment ... And it depends on how many people you've got, if it's easier to... If everybody's in the kitchen, if it might be easier to have them do the work where you could do it by yourself, but if there's a crowd around, is it going to be a lot harder? Is it better if you shoo people out of the kitchen so you can be more by yourself and more easily get around? That's another idea. It just depends on your family but I kind of trained pretty quickly in terms of at least putting things back, which is good.

Barb: Okay. Now, how do y'all go about decorating? Putting up your Christmas tree and decorating your house?

Debbie G: Jennifer, before you address that, I just want to say we have five more minutes and we also have Jodie, who'd like to say something.

Jennifer O: Yeah, let's call on Jodie.

Jodie: What you just said is really important. I think it's important to talk to people beforehand because then you avoid the rush but I usually will have as much prepared ahead of time as possible and I'll just say, "I know you want to help, but you can really help me the most by letting me do it myself because then I'll know where everything is." And I think people, they want to help and if you let them know that that's the best way they can help you, then it makes it a little easier for them to back off a little bit.

Jennifer O: Excellent point. You got it. And I know, Barb, you asked about decorating, I'm just going to ... We've got a couple of more minutes so I'm going to see if anybody has any suggestions for how they like to decorate around the holidays in terms of putting up a tree or other decorations. I'll share my favorite Christmas ornaments to put up, I have eyeball Christmas ornaments that I hand on my tree. I just kind of feel around to put them up. I kind of hope it doesn't look like the Charlie Brown tree and everything's all in one spot and the tree's leaning over, but I just try to do a lot by touch, obviously. I believe, Barb, too, that the crafting group, our discussion group on crafts, I believe it was here in November, and, Debbie, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought they had, as their topic, holiday crafts, making holiday crafts, and it's kind of related to decorating but I think it's totally possible to decorate when you have a vision loss. You can set your lights on different timers if you have smart plugs, you can use your phone to help control when your lights are on versus off, and then it's just a matter of staging everything but that might be a fun topic for another discussion group as well. Any other thoughts on decorating before we go back to Judy?

Debbie G: I think you can go ahead, Judy.

Judy: Okay. I can say that as far as ... I live alone and I do decorate, and I just do it for myself. If it looks bright, that's all that matters, and sometimes I go with themes. I have a lot of dog ornaments so sometimes it's a dog year and sometimes it's a snowflake year and sometimes it's a book year. I have lots of book ornaments too, but I like the eyeballs. I think that's a cool one. I may have to look for this. Okay. So the number for Well Connected is 877-797-7299. I'm going to repeat that and then I'll give you a website. 877-797-7299 and then the website is C-O-V, so Charlie, Oscar, Victor,

Jennifer O: Okay.

Judy: Yeah, you got it. Yeah, and the reason I've had a little bit of contact with them, I know when I was trying to pursue some different options, and maybe it's gotten better, maybe Lyn can address that, I found the website not very screen reader friendly but it may have been improved. I know that when I talked to them about it, they said, "We're working on that."

Jennifer O: Okay. Well, yes, okay. Well, I hope they have and that it's a little bit easier but nice to know and the phone number, that's very helpful too, because that can connect people to get more information about some of the services that they have. Thank you, everybody.

Thanks so much for joining us, Debbie. We appreciate it and hope you come back and join us again some day. All right, take care everybody.