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Home Repairs by Derrick Boudwin Link

Article on home repairs being legally blind written by Derrick Boudwin.

My vocational rehabilitation councilor, who also happens to be my mobility instructor was very keen on expressing (almost forcefully) to my wife that she needed to let me learn how to do things blind and not to just do things for me. Being the kind and patient woman that she is, she still helps me find a can of something in the pantry, or my shoes when I’ve been looking for them for a few minutes to no avail. She has high expectations of me though, like finishing the basement, blindfolded or not.

When we moved into this house we discovered a bad leak in the upstairs bathroom that destroyed a lot of the drywall in the basement. We decided to demo the whole basement and start fresh. After demolishing the basement we decided it would be good to bring the house’s wiring up to code from the old 2 conductor (ungrounded) lines. Working on the electrical exposed the old cast iron drain lines that had corroded and needed to be replaced, so we got busy.

Drywalling in the basement

Having the right tool for the job always makes things easier. The one indispensable tool that I use most often is my headlight flashlight. It seems like whatever I’m doing I can never get enough light, except when I’m outside (and then shadows are evil!) I know that it’s possible for completely blind people to do just about anything, but with enough light I can work almost as fast as a fully sighted person.

I started working on the electrical work with just a handheld flashlight, which worked OK but wasn’t ideal. My older brother didn’t know that I had embarked on any house projects, but for a Christmas present sent me a Remington headlamp. My wife accidentally opened it early and when she saw what it was she decided I needed it early. My brother agreed.

WOW! It was almost like getting a new set of eyes! Instantly I was able to see what I was working on again. Granted I still didn’t see anything of value outside of my little circle of useful vision, but seeing real detail in that circle was sweet. The only downsides I can think of are that I go through batteries like crazy, and whoever is working with me gets blinded if I turn to talk to them (its 150 lumens ) Sam’s Club sells cheap batteries (and rechargeables), and I can talk to people without looking at them. Problems solved.

Safety goggles are a must too, not just for those going blind, but for different reasons. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t seen something and have gotten poked in the head/face/body by it. I may be legally blind, but I’m not completely blind. Did you know that only 10% of legally blind individuals are completely blind? Anyway I’d like to preserve my eyeballs in their current round and un-punctured state, and as much as I dig the whole pirate thing, a patch over one eye might not be that attractive to my wife…AARRGGHH!

I think anyone who works a lot doing construction can appreciate a good pair of gloves. I don’t think this really helps me in a blind sort of way, except that I’m more likely to be wiling to put my hand in a dark scary place gloved, than ungloved.

Pencil and pen marks are hard to find when I’ve marked them somewhere on a board or a sheet of drywall. I prefer a sharpie, the added contrast gives me more time for cutting instead of hunting for my mark.

Speaking of saving time- looking for tools is a lot like looking through a cardboard tube at a crowded pantry for a can of beans. With 180 degrees of peripheral vision its pretty easy. With 20 or 30, it takes a while. The best place for tools while I’m working is on my person. Anything that can be clipped or stuffed into a pocket should be, anything else should have a designated spot. You would think I would learn this after spending so many hours working on this stuff, but day after day I spend 45 seconds to a minute looking for where I put the drill, or the sharpie (why didn’t I put that back in my pocket!!!)

So with my arsenal of tools and tricks we brought the wiring up to code with 12 gauge romex, GFI’s in the kitchen and bath, and a genuine grounded service panel. We cut all the old cast iron drain lines out and replaced them with black ABS, framed in the basement, and are almost done putting up the sheetrock. It’s still mentally exhausting at times trying to find cutting marks and where I put the saw, but its so satisfying to still do all the work ourselves. Now where the heck is my mouse pointer?

Author’s disclaimer: Free to link or republish.

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  1. 1

    I like Derrick, have found ways to over come the things that sighted people take for granted. I am a wood worker and a pin and ruler no longer are used when I make my wall clocks. There was a time when I rushed into every thing, and now having star guards and macular degeneration and my vision down to 92%, my click ruler and hole punch are my best friends. keeping the measurements in my head and the few that I keep in braille for those senior moments when ,What was that last measurement? Being blind has not stopped me from doing the things that I loved to do before I lost my sight some 4 and 1/2 years ago. What friends that are still around find it strange that I haven't cut off a finger yet. Losing my sight has given me Triles ,yet I have found that slowing down works for me. The slowing down was the hardest thing to learn, but, time has taught me the lessons that I needed to learn. Many mistakes have been made, but out of the mistakes, I have found different ways to do things. And most of all, doing them right!
    It is stores like Derrick's that give me the courage to go on with my life and doing the things that I enjoy. My wood working, helping sighted friends to changeout water heaters, put in finces around the yards hasn't slowed me down, but has shown my friends that having been sighted for 57 years, this old man still has a trick or two to show them.
    Being blind doesn't mean that you stop living. Yes, you slow down a little,but the end results are better than most can believe. So don't Quit, find ways to over come the triles by slowing down and remembering the things that you have been taughtand over the years

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