Since blind people are able to live on their own just the same as everyone else, they also receive mail like everyone else does. And, just because they are blind does not mean that they are exempt from bills or other responsibilities, such as filling out necessary paperwork. One might wonder how it is possible for blind people to read and sort their mail, since they can’t see. There are actually two ways it can be done.
Hiring a Reader
Hiring a reader to sort mail is actually the oldest strategy, as it has been used by blind people for decades or even centuries. What this entails is that the blind hire trusted neighbors or friends for a certain amount of time each week to come over and read and sort the mail. If there are bills that need to be paid or paperwork that needs to be filled out, readers also help with these things by reading what’s on the paper and the blind dictate their answers. What the blind dictate is what is written down.
After the bills are paid and paper work is filled out, readers help the blind to organize the mail properly, so if there is something they need to refer back to, or if documentation is needed for something later, the blind are able to independently provide these things on their own since that all they have to do is go to wherever they put whatever it is they need and get it.
Using an Electronic Scanner
Since technology has gotten much better and can do just about anything, the blind are able to ditch hiring readers if they choose and scan their mail into their computers to read and sort it out. Once the mail has been scanned into the computer via a specialized program, such as Open Book, the blind are able to read it through using the screen reader or the speech output from the scanning program, which reads what is on the paper and turns it into speech for the blind to know what is there. If there are any bills that need to be paid or any paperwork that needs to be filled out, the blind will use the computer to read the questions and then type their answers, whereas before, they had to have the reader read what was on the papers and dictate the answers to be written down. After the blind have completely filled everything out, they print it out and mail whatever that needs to be mailed by putting it into an envelope and then making an address label on the computer. Then, they send it off. Since most bills can be paid online, many are going this rout because things can be done more quickly and with little difficulty ; however, for those who choose to go the route of mailing the bills in, this is how it is done.
Organizing the mail using this method is simple. All the blind need to do in this instance is put the mail on the scanner piece by piece. Once the piece of mail has been scanned into the computer and the blind know what it is, they then set it into the appropriate pile, box, drawer, or wherever they choose to store it for the sake of organization. This way, when they need to refer back to something for the sake of documentation or any other purpose, they can easily do this on their own without frustration.
While this method enables blind people to be completely independent, since they are not relying on anyone else to get the job done, it can be a bit more time consuming, since they have to wait for the papers to be scanned into the computer. Nevertheless, those who use this method love it, as it enables them to feel empowered.
Whichever method is chosen is up to each individual blind person, as it all depends on what each one feels comfortable with. It does not matter which one is chosen. The important thing is that either of them gets the job done effectively and efficiently.