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Legally Blind

catzu | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Has anyone taught sewing lessons by machine to the legally blind? She has sewn before being declared legally blind. She is taking my class as a refresher course. She has seam gauge attachment for seam allowance. Her main goal is clothing for herself. I am not sure of all the accessories available to the legally blind. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



  1. Ralphetta | | #1

    I've had some experience working with blind people in other situations.  One thing that really impressed me was their expertise using a computer.  I was just learning and when I would call friends for help,  they would give me vague instructions.  But, the blind man I worked  with could give me very specific steps and communicated things much better. 

    He explained that he had to have things very clearly worked out in his head..step by step. He could tell me exactly where a key was, (since I didn't even know what I was looking for..that made a big difference.) I think you would need to know HER machine very well so you could communicate clearly.  You have to SEE things clearly in order to communicate them verbally to someone else.

    If she is adventurous enough to try this, I would imagine she would be really fun to work with.  I bet  YOU'LL learn a lot, too!

    You mentioned a seam guide.  I don't know if this would apply, but when I taught my 5 year old to sew many years ago, I bought a finger guard that was made to protect the blind from sewing over their fingers.  My daughter isn't blind,  I just did it as a safety precaution.

    1. JanF | | #2

      Hope you dont mind - I was flicking through Gatherings - you mention a finger guard for the blind to stop your youngster from sewing their fingers - could you kindly go into more detail? - Even a trade name might be helpful!
      As a teacher - everyso often some child gets the needle through their finger - no matter how much I go through H & S with them. We dont have any guard attachments in this country for our machines - indeed in school they are not required to have anything - but i would be very interested if there was something easy to buy that would make things safer!!
      Ive never heard or seen anything remotely useful here for this!

      1. Ralphetta | | #4

        It was MANY years ago, so I don't remember the brand name, etc.  I believe I ordered it through a Singer dealer.  If I remember correctly, it was shaped  sort of like a box and enclosed the area where the needle went up and down.  It was composed of widely- spaced, open-weave wire, so you could see through it.  It looked kind of like a chicken-wire cage .  It wouldn't keep you from running over your finger, but it would prevent you from getting your finger ABOVE the foot and hit by the needle on its downward thrust.

        My kid wanted her own machine.  We had a talk about  the limitations of the pretty pink kids machine.  She wanted to really sew, so we got a cheap used machine that sounded better than my own.  It was more sturdy than the toy one and sewed a nice basic stitch. 


    2. catzu | | #3

      Thank you for the input. I am heading to my store to meet her and get to know her as you suggested. She does not want to bring her machine because she rides the bus. She is wanting to learn to use many different machines. I did tell her that I would probably learn more from her. I will definitely look into a finger guard. Thank  you once again.


      1. From my Stash.... | | #5

        What a great opportunity for you to do this. Here's some ideas:

        * First of all, find out from her what vision she does have. Although she is legally blind, she may have still have some (the majority of legally blind people can still see a bit). Let her guide you in letting you know what she can see - the stitch guides/menus on various machines can be quite different so you may have to go through all of them in the store to see which she can work with.

        *I would think a needle threading attachment would be a good idea since so many of us who need bifocals have trouble with this.

        * See if high contrast colours for her

         threads and fabrics help her distinguish items for her to work on.  This will be a question of exploration for you both.

        * For pressing, she will definitely need one of the teflon mitts to help keep her hands safe.

        * Think carefully before you explain something or demonstrate something - she may need to feel your stitches or piece worked and relate the feel to the stitch number, etc. With patience, you will be surprised what you can do. 

        *Perhaps a large magnifying glass used for needlepoint may also be of some assistance.

        That's all I can think of just off the top of my head.  Good luck, and please let us know how it goes - we'll be rooting for you both.


        1. catzu | | #7

          Thank you for the input. She is amazing. She sews beautifully just by touch. She followed my hands then did it very well. We drafted a pant pattern for her. She did have a hard time with this. So I told her I would make her a skirt, top, and pant block for her to work off. She stayed for 3 hours sewing. What a joy to work with. Thank you for all your helpful advice.


          1. From my Stash.... | | #8

            I'm glad that it went so well for you both - I am in awe that she can do this. She is so inspiring. I can't imagine sewing anything by feel and pants are always a problem for so many of us.

            Are the two of you going to be working together on a regular basis since it sounds like you got along so well together and it's always better when we can sew and talk about sewing with others?




          2. catzu | | #9

            Yes we will be together for the next 5 week. My lessons are 2 hr session for 5 weeks or 10 hours however the customer wants to break it down. She actually teaches people computer programing. She is multi talented. She lost her sight 5 years ago; however, her dad went blind from the same aligment  when she was 5 (41 years ago.) It's nice as a teacher to also be pushed to boundaries that are not the norm for "your" class curriculm. For me it's a challenge that I love.

            As a teacher I think I will become better to those who see, because sewing really is a tactile art. And knowing how to communicate and teach that "feel of sewing" that comes with experience will benefit my students both young and old. It has changed my approach with all my students both young and the young at heart.


  2. MaryinColorado | | #6

    At an office supply store, I bought a clamp on magnifying glass/lamp.  No brand name on it, I think it was under $20.00.  It is very helpful to me.  She may just need sewing instruction and some suggestions regarding what resources are available to her.  If you run into snags, you might contact the local Lion's club or an occupational therapist regarding helpful equipment.

    I think you should treat her the same as any other student, evaluating her individual needs, strengths, and background knowledge. 

    Edited 12/7/2006 6:16 pm ET by MaryinColorado

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