Information for Diabetics Living with Blindness and Diabetes
Blind diabetics and those losing vision can continue to be independent and live the lives they want. The blind can and do accurately draw up insulin, monitor blood glucose levels, etc. Limitations' are usually self-imposed, and often all that is needed to overcome negative thinking is simply to know where to go for information. Some equipment has been adapted for the blind, for example, talking glucose monitors, count-a-dose insulin measuring devices, talking blood pressure monitors, talking scales, and tactile tools to measure food. By using alternative techniques and products, blind people can control their diabetes as efficiently as do their sighted peers.
Decades ago the National Federation of the Blind established the NFB Diabetes Action Network (NFB DAN). Today NFB DAN members around the nation support one another as they manage their diabetes while working together to improve the lives of all blind people.
What is NFB-DAN's Mission? The NFB Diabetes Action Network educates, empowers, and inspires people living with diabetes and its complications. This is our mission. We accomplish our mission by sharing the Federation's "can-do" philosophy, through volunteer peer support, and by advocating for the development of more accessible diabetes technology. Together, we challenge one another to live our best and fullest lives and learn to manage the complications of diabetes with independence and dignity. NFB DAN also works to educate the health care community about the needs and capabilities of blind and low vision diabetics. Education begins with your own doctors or specialists, who may not be aware that talking devices exist. Discussing the capabilities of blind persons with your care providers will foster a better relationship and better long-term care. Many advances in diabetes-related technologies, such as insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitoring devices, and home dialysis systems offer great benefits, including more effective diabetes self-management, independence, and an enhanced quality of life. Through collective action, we work to convince federal authorities to mandate accessibility standards before approving the use of diabetic devices. We also work to convince manufacturers to make their products accessible to low vision and blind diabetics. We need your voice to help us advocate for access to these devices that enhance our quality of life.
You Are Not Alone The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland can put you in touch with local blind and low vision diabetics who can offer information and support. Attending a local chapter is the best way to get started. Visit the Chapters and Divisions page. Get solutions to everyday problems and offer your tips on how to cope with diabetes and maintain independence. From time to time, NFBMD and its local chapters hold special seminars and workshops on managing the complications of diabetes. Expand your network of contacts by joining the DAN listserv, Diabetes Talk for the Blind. This online community includes people across the United States who have been managing diabetes for years, as well as people who are just starting out. Families and friends of diabetics are also welcome to join.
Publications of Interest
“Bridging the Gap - Living with Blindness and Diabetes” focuses on nonvisual methods of managing diabetes. This volume has been prepared to answer common questions from blind diabetics. It includes a collection of articles by blind persons who share their stories as well as a useful resource section. It also includes information on everything from the basics of diabetes to living with its various complications. Read it online by going to https://nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/books/BridgeGap_Diabetes.htm, or contact the NFB Independence Market (410-659-9314) for a copy in print or audio.
For links to other interesting materials written by and about NFB members, visit https://nfb.org/literature-diabetes. In addition to providing specialized publications, we also provide access to national diabetic magazines. Blind and low-vision diabetics can access “Diabetes Forecast” and “Diabetes Self-Management” magazines through NFB- NEWSLINE®, the world's largest digital talking newspaper service for the blind, available free of charge to anyone who is legally blind. Thousands of low-vision readers already use NFB-NEWSLINE®, which makes the texts of hundreds of local and national newspapers, as well as television broadcast schedules, localized weather alerts, and job listings available on demand to blind readers in an easily accessible format by telephone, online, or via an iPhone/iPad app. For more information about NFB- NEWSLINE®, visit https://nfb.org/audio-newspaper-service.
Prodigy Voice http://www.prodigyvoice.com/ 866-422-4866 This talking glucose meter is sold by the manufacturer, and is also sold and demonstrated by many assistive technology vendors, including the NFB Independence Market and White Canes and More. The Prodigy Voice™ has been designed with Tactile features allowing the blind user to locate its buttons easily. These buttons have raised imprints allowing the user to easily identify them. One of the most requested features is the “Repeat” button. This feature allows the user to repeat the last message or test result with the touch of a button. Audible Memory and Data Management: The Prodigy Voice™ monitor can store up to 450 test results with date and time, and audibly gives 7, 14, 21, 30, 60, and 90 day averages. Prodigy’s FREE software allows simple downloading of test results to a computer, helping you and your Diabetes healthcare professional to track changes in your blood glucose level over time.
Senior Health Insurance Program
http://www.aging.maryland.gov/SeniorHealthInsuranceProgram.html Through offices in each county, this program, a part of the Maryland Department of Aging, offers help and information in the following areas: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Program (Medicare Part D) Medicare supplements (Medigap Plans) Assistance for disabled Medicare beneficiaries (under age 65) Medicare Advantage Plans (HMOs, preferred provider organizations) Long Term Care Insurance Medical Assistance programs Assistance for low-income beneficiaries Assistance with denials, appeals and grievances Billing problems Health care fraud and abuse Telephone numbers of these county programs are listed on the SHIP web page.
Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
http://www.lbph.lib.md.us/ As the library which provides audio book services to citizens of Maryland, LBPH offers by mail or download more than 150 books on diabetes, covering topics such as meal planning, cookbooks, exercise recommendations and biographies of people who have successfully coped with their diabetes.
Bookshare.org Bookshare is another good source for books about diabetes. It is worth paying the membership fee because it will provide many current sources of information.
Calorieking.com As the name implies, this website contains many tools to help individuals make smarter food choices. For people on the go there is also a phone app.