Teatowels and bright yellow tape: Jane Copsey on her favourite low-vision gadgets
The theme of this week's In Touch, the BBC Radio 4 programme for blind and partially sighted people, was gadgets.
Part of an occasional series called Blindness for Beginners, the episode focused on gismos of most use to people who have recently experienced sight loss.
Visually impaired journalist and author of mystery novels, Jane Copsey, was one of those giving advice. Here, she explains that sometimes, rather than spending big on specialist kit, a little initiative can go a long way.
We all know that gadgets aren't the answer to everything, but they can be an enormous help. This is especially true for people who've recently lost all or most of their sight.
Having the right piece of kit at the right time can make day-to-day life easier, and so help people get back their confidence and independence.
Visit any well-stock blind resource centre, and you'll see devices for everything, from pouring out a mug of coffee to matching up clothes by their colours, talking kitchen implements like microwaves, and a plethora of clocks and watches to announce the passage of time. For those, like me, who have some useful sight left, there are magnifiers of every shape and size, from simple hand-held lenses to reading contraptions with CCTV cameras that can enlarge documents up to 70 times.
They're great, go for them if they help. However, I find that apart from a powerful reading-lens mounted in a spectacle-frame, and a strong monocular telescope (like half a binocular) for seeing things at a distance, I hardly use any.
Instead, I try to take advantage of whatever's around.
Bright colours and strong contrasts work for me. In my kitchen, for instance, most of our coffee mugs are white inside, ideal for making instant coffee - pour on the water and the dark liquid shows up well. They're OK with paler liquids like milky tea, but I've one or two dark mugs too in case I fancy drinking a glass of milk.
Outside in the garden, I have the problem that all gardeners have of losing my tools if I've put them down on a flower-bed or lawn.
To combat this, the handles of my favourite trowel and pair of pruners have bright yellow bands of sticky tape on them. I suppose I could still mislay them in a bed of daffodils.
This same yellow tape comes in handy when I'm travelling. My usual grey suitcase looks much like everyone else's grey suitcase when they're piled together in a train luggage area, so mine has bright yellow around the handle.
You never know where you'll find something that isn't exactly a gadget, but can solve a problem for which it wasn't intended.
When we lived in London, I could never get a tube map big enough to read. Then, one day in a market, I found a tea-towel showing the whole Underground in glorious Technicolor and lovely big print. Meant for tourists - but perfect for a short-sighted Londoner!
So I wouldn't knock gadgets, not for a minute. But I would say, remember there are often other methods of solving your problems. All you have to do is find them.