Writing aids with low-vision: What tools can help someone with low-vision write independently?

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What tools can help someone with low-vision write independently?


My father’s vision has been progressively deteriorating in the last few years to the point where he is not able to fill out his own cheques, or even write his personal reminders without my mom’s or my help. This was a part of his independence he really valued. As someone who doesn’t use a computer or tablet, what options are there for him to continue writing?

Our answer

Independence can be a highly valued and distinguishing characteristic of an individual’s life but can become difficult to maintain as a person loses vision. Your father may be interested in knowing about several writing tools available through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s online store:

  • The CNIB store (at cnibsmartlife.ca) carries signature and writing guides designed to help people with low-vision complete tasks by limiting their writing to certain areas on the paper, ensuring their penmanship maintains legibility. The CNIB store has a Plastic Signature Guide, a Letter Writing Guide, and a Cheque Writing Guide by Reizen Inc. These products range from $2 to $15 (CDN). Similar products can be found at the MaxiAids online store, and range from about $2 to $50 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.
  • Pentel Fibre Tip Pen (at cnibsmartlife.ca) allows users to write with bold and robust letters, making it easier for low-vision individuals to read what they have written compared to a normal pen or pencil. Amazon carries Paper Mate fibre tip pens in a variety of colours; 12 pens cost about $17 (CDN) plus an additional shipping fee.

Additional tools, such as magnification or increased light, are designed to help individuals with low-vision read and write comfortably. You may also want to check out an article entitled Signing Your Name and Handwriting If You Are Blind or Have Low Vision (at visionaware.org), which offers additional tips and techniques for writing with blindness or low-vision.

LED floor lamp and magnifer, by BiosSpecialized lamps:

  • A variety of floor and table lamps with magnifiers are available through online retailers such as Amazon and Staples. These products range in price from about $140 to $200 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.
  • There are a variety of LED desk lights through online retailers such as Walmart and Amazon which may provide a greater contrast for writing. These products range from about $20 to $120 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.

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