You’ve made a list. You’ve checked it twice. Now it’s time to find a non-visually accessible gift that’s really, really nice!
The blind and low-vision parents on your holiday gift list definitely deserve a little holiday cheer! Whether they’re on the city bus juggling their infant, their groceries, and their cane all at the same time; walking their kids to school in the freezing cold; or figuring out how to help their teenager with print algebra homework, being a parent who is blind sometimes feels like running a marathon along a route you have to personally pave yourself as you run.
We asked some of the badass blind moms and dads who have appeared as guests on our Bad Blind Moms YouTube series what they would like to receive this year. Here are some thoughtful, fun, and useful gift ideas they shared that are sure to make your friend, co-worker, or family member’s days merry and bright!
Getting out and about
Whenever we ask blind and low-vision parents what gifts they would like to receive, the most frequent response is Uber and Lyft gift cards.
Although some cities in the US have great bus, light rail, and/or subway systems, most smaller cities, towns, and remote areas don’t have adequate public transportation options that allow blind parents to get to work, childcare, school activities, and run errands easily (or sometimes at all).
Although some of us can partially mitigate this by taking ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft on a daily basis, it’s a huge expense under the best of circumstances.
“Transportation is one of the most significant barriers I face as a blind individual and as a blind parent,” said Lisa Johnson of Omaha, Nebraska. “I need to be able to get myself and my kids to the places we need to go in order for all of us to fully participate in education, employment, and recreational activities. But when calculating whether we will participate in activities, I always have to calculate the additional cost of transportation to and from a location. Suddenly, dance isn’t just tuition, but $25 in transportation to get there and back to each individual class. Gift cards help alleviate this additional cost.”
“Uber gift cards help when I want to take a longer trip for an experience that I otherwise might not be able to financially justify to myself,” said Denna Lambert of Greenbelt, Maryland.
Before purchasing a gift card, it’s important to research whether Uber and Lyft are available in the area where your friend or family member lives. Although they are available in most cities and towns, they’re often not available in rural and remote areas.
Frequent listeners of Bad Blind Moms know that this is co-host Stacy and her husband Greg’s top recommendation of “gear” for blind and low vision parents. It’s not much fun to schlep a giant car seat or booster seat around the zoo, the mall, or the grocery store – and sometimes, it’s inconvenient to find a customer service desk to ask if they can watch your booster seat while you shop. Mifold booster seats are about the size of a thick paperback novel and can fit easily into a backpack or even a large purse. This makes being active in the community or enjoying activities like hiking on a nearby trail so much easier and less exhausting. (Please note that children must be at least 40 pounds and 40 inches tall to use a Mifold safely.)
Hilda Hernandez of McAllen, Texas loves her Keenz stroller wagon. “With all of the accessories, such as a mosquito net cover, the all-weather cover, and all-terrain wheels, it’s a lifesaver when taking our children out in bad weather, or when we go to the zoo or the beach.”
Aira is a service that allows people who are blind and low vision to connect with professionally-trained sighted agents through an app on our smartphones. Using our phones’ cameras, Aira agents can read mail, give us information about our surroundings, read the label on medication, or read the directions on a box of cake mix.
Bad Blind Moms co-hosts Stacy and Bridgit have found innumerable uses for Aira both at home and on the go.
Bridgit uses Aira for quick trips to Target or Walgreen’s, locating buildings in unfamiliar areas, reading print documents her kids bring home from school, and sorting out grocery items that feel the same, such as cans of different kinds of soup.
Stacy uses Aira to read labels on over-the-counter medications, care labels on new clothing, and to quickly and efficiently look for places to eat while on layovers in airports.
Aira was once a lifesaver for Stacy when she was running late for a meeting in an unfamiliar city. After getting dropped off by an Uber driver several blocks away from the office building her meeting was in, she used her cell phone app to connect with an Aira agent who was able to find her current location through her phone and give her turn-by-turn directions as she walked to her destination. (Keep in mind that Aira agents are not meant to be substitutes for long white canes or guide dogs. Aira agents cannot tell you when it is safe to cross a street. They can give you information about the street, such as whether it is two or four lanes, whether there is a stop light, or whether it is a 4-way or a T-shaped intersection, but they cannot tell you when or how to cross. Therefore, good orientation and mobility training is still a must!)
Amazon, Shipt, Instacart, Postmates, Uber Eats, DoorDash, or GrubHub – because have you ever had the experience of carrying home a large bag of groceries with a toddler in the freezing cold, blazing heat, or, worst of all, pouring rain? Chances are the blind parent on your holiday gift list has been there and done that.
With a gift card to one of the above services, your friend or family member can order birthday party supplies, have groceries delivered, or just order dinner on a night when they don’t feel like cooking. (Using UberEats to order hot chocolate or crème brulée while curling up with a book or watching Netflix after the kids go to bed is also both acceptable and encouraged.)
Similar to buying gift cards for Uber and Lyft, it’s important to make sure that these services are available and that they deliver to your friend or family member’s area.
As much as we love to cuddle with our babies, there are times we need to be able to put them in a safe place while we get housework done, take a shower, or just have some time to ourselves. “There are portable cribs that are called play yards that are easy to assemble on the go,” said Alejandra Perez of McAllen, Texas. “I used to take it to visit grandparents and on vacations and it was very useful in the backyard to keep the baby safe there. There are also baby swings and rockers with music and white noise that were a lifesaver to me. It kept the baby calm and he could play there while I was cleaning, cooking, or with company.”
The Pen Friend is a nifty little tool that allows users to record their voices onto self-adhesive labels that they can stick onto anything from file folders (“Mortgage Documents”) to items in the freezer (“These pork chops were bought on July 1, 2021 and should be used by July 1, 2022.”). These recorded labels can then easily be played back using the Pen Friend. This can be an especially useful tool for people who don’t know Braille well. “I think the Pen Friend sold by Maxi Aids is really nice, because parents can put labels on things like baby food and cans,” said Alejandra Perez of McAllen, Texas. “I level spices in my kitchen, canned foods in my pantry, make-up, and toothpaste. Then I record the label and my Pen Friend will read it to me whenever I point the Pen Friend at the label. It makes it very easy to identify things that otherwise feel the same.”
House-cleaning service gift card
“As a stressed-out mom of seven kids who works 60 hours a week, I would love it if someone gave me a house-cleaning service gift card,” said Lisa Johnson of Omaha, Nebraska. Although most of us can’t claim Lisa’s superhuman work ethic and level of responsibility, few of us would turn down her thoughtful gift idea!
The iGrill has long been a favorite tool of blind cooks who like to grill. It includes a set of four meat probes that can be stuck into different pieces of meat on the grill and a thermometer that allows the user to monitor the temperature of the meat. Although the digital display on the thermometer itself is not non-visually accessible, it can be read using the free iGrill app on a smartphone. The app will also alert you when the meat has reached its target temperature.
“The iGrill has been a real blessing,” said Ross Pollpeter of Urbandale, Iowa. “With the accessible app, I can verify the proper temperature has been reached with my grilled meats. The digital base that the probes connect to is magnetic and can be easily secured onto the grill itself. It’s an all-around handy tool to have around for any pro or amateur grill cook.”
“It’s nice to be able to consistently produce well-cooked meat off the grill since you’re able to monitor the temperature via Bluetooth on your iPhone,” agreed Greg DeWall of Lincoln, Nebraska. “It has pre-set settings for different types of meat, such as beef, poultry, and pork.”
“I like that AirPods are wireless and that you have the choice of using one or two AirPods at a time,” said Greg DeWall of Lincoln, Nebraska. “Sometimes I like to wear only one as I’m doing things around the house. I can listen to sports and still pay attention to what the kids are doing.” Many blind parents who work from home also love AirPods, because they allow the parent to listen to their computer’s screen-reading software in one ear while leaving the other ear open to monitor what their kids are up to (which, 90% of the time, is no good).
Massage gift certificate
“As a parent, the gift of a massage or a spa day is always welcomed!” said Priscilla Yeung of Sacramento, California. “We need to give ourselves permission to relax and rejuvenate!”
Bad Blind Moms co-host Bridgit loves to read. Audiobooks allow her to read while doing chores, exercising, lying in bed, or while the kids frolic at the playground. An Audible subscription or gift certificate is a must-have for any voracious reader. A couple of books Bridgit highly recommends are The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit.
After a long day of working, taking kids to activities, and making sure homework gets done and everyone gets fed, some parents enjoy sinking into a long, hot bath. “When I need to relax in a hot bath, lavender essential oil is a sure winner,” said Priscilla Yeung of Sacramento, California. Other parents recommended scented bubble bath, bath bombs, and Epsom salts to relax and relieve the tension in both body and mind.
Bad Blind Moms co-host Bridgit is obsessed with coffee, specifically lattes. Her dream is to have a home coffee bar. Last year, she was gifted a milk frother, which is a coffee game changer, and essential for lattes. Bridgit also enjoys a good flavored syrup. Monin is her favorite brand. With a variety of flavors and a great price, it’s a must for lattes. Cinnamon is her top choice.
More gift cards (preferably to places where they won’t buy anything for the kids!)
Give your friend or family member a gift card to a place where they absolutely cannot spend it on kids’ clothes, batteries, or paper towels. How about a gift card to White House Black Market, Men’s Wearhouse, The Body Shop, or Lowe’s?
Sometimes the best gifts can’t be bought. Bad Blind Moms co-host Stacy and her husband Greg appreciate their friend who offers to baby-sit for a Saturday evening around their birthdays, anniversary, Halloween, and Christmas. Their kids enjoy fun holiday-themed crafts, games, and cupcake and cookie decorating. Meanwhile, Stacy and Greg enjoy a romantic walk by a local lake and dinner at a nice restaurant.
“So much of running a household as a blind parent is planning and managing logistics,” said Denna Lambert of Greenbelt, Maryland. “A perfect gift for me is when a friend arranges for childcare and gives me enough time to choose how I want to use the time. My friends often call it a tap-out call. If I need to tap out for a bit, I can call one of them and they will get my son. It’s a huge blessing.”
As temperatures drop, many people enjoy the coziness of a pair of warm and comfy slippers to wear around the house.
Bad Blind Mom’s co-host Stacy is a huge fan of the Minnetonka Moccasins Women’s Sheepskin Ankle Boots. With a suede outside and a sheepskin lining, they have an indoor/outdoor sole that doesn’t get slippery on carpeted stairs.
Ross Pollpeter of Urbandale, Iowa recommends memory foam slippers. “They’re a simple gift, but a really nice gift,” he said. “I’m a person who typically has foot pain and I do enjoy having comfortable house slippers when I’m relaxing at home.”
Chris Kuell of Danbury, Connecticut agrees. “For the blind dad in your life, I recommend LL Bean Men’s Slippers. These slippers look like moccasins, but have sturdy, grippy rubber soles that allow you to go outside to take out the trash and comfy fake fur lining that keeps your feet toasty and warm.”
Surf and turf
They say the way to a blind parent’s heart is through their stomach. Chris Kuell of Danbury, Connecticut is a huge fan of Box Hill Crabcakes. “These crab cakes are huge; they are delicious; and they come frozen delivered to your door,” he said. “The cakes themselves are a bargain at around $15 for the best half-pound of crab you’ve ever had—but the shipping is very expensive, so reserve these cakes for someone you love who will appreciate them.”
Of course, as past and present Nebraskans, Bad Blind Moms co-hosts Stacy and Bridgit and their husbands feel obligated to put in a good word for Omaha Steaks. From juicy steaks to buttery sea bass to stuffed baked potatoes to caramel apple tartlets, Omaha Steaks offers something delicious for every palate.
Speaking of deliciousness, almost any parent would enjoy a nice box of chocolates from a place like See’s, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Fannie May, or Godiva. Whether they hide it from the kids in their closet (we do it all the time!) or put it out when having friends over for dinner (a classier choice), it’s sure to be enjoyed!
So now you’ve read our list. Be sure to check it at least twice! And get the blind parent in your life something that’s really, really nice!
Bad Blind Moms is not affiliated or sponsored by any of these brands. We do not receive money for the promotion or sale of these brands. These are just suggestions recommended by parents.
About Bad Blind Moms
Stacy Cervenka and Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter are two blind moms just trying to figure it all out. (Emphasis on trying.) They’re excited to share their experiences, foibles, concerns, mistakes, and wisdom with you on their YouTube series, Bad Blind Moms. If you’re a perfect parent, this is probably not the show for you. But if you too are a hot mess just wandering your way through parenthood, join them as they discuss parenting, blindness, and life in general with some of their other favorite blind moms.