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In the heat of summer, everyone flocks to their local pool or beach to stay cool and enjoy the sun. Many of us know someone with a visual impairment, but how you can ensure your loved one stays safe when participating in water activities? Orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist Ashleigh shares these tips to ensure pool and beach safety this summer.

The first step to enjoy water fun is to pack and plan accordingly. Sunscreen and sunglasses are important for everyone, but sunglasses are especially important for a person with a visual impairment. Water environments are much brighter than a typical outdoor setting, such as walking in your neighborhood. The glare of the water, concrete, and sand can significantly affect your light perception, so wearing sunglasses is a must. Another important item to pack is your white cane. The white cane can help you navigate the pool deck and sand safely.

The most important thing a person with a visual impairment can do to stay safe in water environments is to have the support of a family member or friend. It is important for you or your support person to let someone know you are visually impaired. This can be a lifeguard or another patron. The support of a loved one can help you orient yourself with the pool layout, such as how far away you are from the water or the shape of the pool. If you plan to go alone, Ashleigh recommends the Aira app, a paid subscription service that connects visually impaired individuals with live, trained volunteers who can provide you with voice information on your surroundings.

Water safety is crucial to enjoying fun in the sun this summer. CVI’s orientation and mobility training teaches you how to navigate safely with a white cane. If you or a loved one need help navigating with your white cane, whether it is by the pool or simply getting to the grocery store, CVI can help. To learn more about our services, visit our website at cviga.org/services. Stay safe this summer!