If, like me, you can’t see, there are quite a few annoying problems that pop up; and they all are due to not being able to see. I’m sure that either of us could make a very long list. A number of little frustrations would be on both of our lists, but there would be some that show up only on one of our lists. We each have our own pet peeves.

For me, most of my can’t see annoyances can be put into only a few categories. What is it? Where is it? Which one is it? How does it work; and more to the point, how can I get it to work for me?

First, let’s get some perspective. Everyone has similar annoyances whether or not they can see. Being irritated by this and that now and then is liberally spread around for all of us. It’s easy to get the feeling that life has dealt us a worse deal than everyone else, but that’s just not true. The world is more accommodating to some of us than to others of us for sure. It is what it is. If we were to make a list of the ten worst limitations we might have, we might think that not being able to see would be at the top of the list, but that’s mostly because we haven’t experienced the other nine. My point is that coming up short in the seeing department only means that I’ll just have to figure out some other way to know what it is, where it is, which one it is and how to make it work for me.

Here’s the good news. Let’s call what, where, which one, and using it the big four – That’s the big four annoyances due to not being able to see, of course. I don’t have to puzzle out the big four for myself. If you insist on figuring them out for yourself, have at it. For me, I’m happy to know that others have already figured them out so I can just use their strategies and solutions. I’m sure that either of us could likely figure out ways around the big four by ourselves, but why bother? We can just use someone else’s strategy, modifying it if necessary. Easy Peasy.

The solution to “What is it?” and “Which one is it?” is not complicated. Open the Aira or Be My Eyes app on your smart phone and ask the agent or volunteer to take a look and tell you what it is or which one it is. We discussed those options in the last episode of Blind How. They also may be able to help you to find something that you dropped or just can’t find, if you know approximately where it is. You will recall that they are also usually willing to read something for you, if it is not too long or overly private. But there are other options.

You won’t be surprised to know that those other ways involve apps on your phone, using the phone’s camera. Although I don’t understand much about how they do what they do, it’s usually referred to as OCR or Optical Character Recognition or as A I or Artificial Intelligence. One of the most popular apps like this is called Seeing A I.

There are several vision assist apps available to us and they do various tasks with mixed results. They can read, identify money, tell us whether the lights are on or off, identify things around us, help figure out what color something is, identify products, read bar codes, and other things related to providing visual information. How well they will work for you can only be determined by you giving each app a serious try. I think you can try each app for free, but there is a cost if you want to keep using most of the apps. I can tell you that the more you use a particular app, the more effective it will become, as your skill with using it improves.

As with other apps, you will need to use your developing skills to find and try out the available visual assistance apps. As a place to start, try Applevis.com to find out about these apps and how to use them. There are also quite a few blindness related podcasts that will add to your explorations. And searching Google for “OCR” and “Blind” is likely to point you in helpful directions.

If I’m leaving you short, leaving you annoyed, I already mentioned that I’m not going to hold your hand, step by step through the options available to you for visual assistance, or for anything else for that matter. I’m eager to point out what kinds of things are out there, ways you can do what you want to do by yourself. I am suggesting which mountains you may want to climb, but when and if you climb them is up to you. There is one thing that I can pretty much guarantee though. If you successfully climb any one of the possible mountains available to you, you will find that climbing the rest is merely a matter of your personal interest and motivation. Each mountain is still a long way up; but once you have been there and done that, the next mountain is just another mountain; and you are now a competent mountain climber.