Karen reminds us that there are times when we need to stop being so serious, taking a break to enjoy accessible recreational activities.

Recreation is an important aspect of life. We all need to find time to

relax and unwind after a long day’s work. We live in such a fast paced society. Most of us seem to not have enough time to do all the things we need or want to do during the day. Not only are we expected to work outside the home, to be productive and active members of our communities, we are also expected to manage our homes competently. We must be organized, manage our time well, and act as responsible adults by successfully completing such tasks as paying our bills and running errands. These are the expectations of a mature, responsible adult. If one is feeling overwhelmed with too much stress and pressure, he will not be able to cope very well in the world. These factors make it extremely important for all of us to find time for leisure.

As blind people we encounter more obstacles due to our limitations, fewer opportunities and lack of social support. Needless to say, it is crucial that we get involved in recreation by finding activities that we as blind people can do independently or participate in a group equally with our sighted peers. For example, most people enjoy watching movies, where we often miss out on critical elements such as action, scenery, and facial expressions. This can be frustrating and even depressing, taking the enjoyment from something that should be fun and relaxing.

We are fortunate to have a service called Descriptive Video Service (DVS) that will enable blind and visually impaired people to enjoy such an activity without missing these key elements or needing a sighted person to describe the visual aspects. DVS is affiliated with WGBH, a PBS station in Boston. This service has been available for over a decade. Their selection of movies is extremely limited in comparison to video stores like blockbuster. Despite this fact, they do carry over two hundred movies available in a wide variety of genres. The Staff at DVS work diligently to produce high quality videos for the blind. They view each and every film, dozens of times, taking notes and incorporating a verbal description by choosing language carefully, using as few words as possible so as not to interfere with the dialogue. If you have not experienced something like this, check out the Descriptive Video Service web site for details. Not only can you buy these described videos at the DVS web site, but you may also be able to borrow them from your local library. Most public libraries have a talking book department. Contact

your local Library to get more information and a listing of the descriptive movies that might be available. Darrell and I have purchased DVS videos for a few years now and have an excellent collection. I enjoy mostly the comedies, mysteries and dramas, whereas Darrell finds pleasure watching the action and Science fiction. This is one activity that we can enjoy without sighted assistance.

Of course, there’s much more to recreational activities for the blind than just watching DVS videos. Examples of other great activities might include playing board games, participating in sports, journaling, ceramics, dance, karate and rock climbing.

These are just a few things we have done to cope with every day stress.

There are some board games that are accessible, available in both Braille and large print. One can find these games and other similar accessible products such as playing cards at such companies as Beyond Sight and Independent Living Aids.

In addition to the above mentioned activities, one can also become involved in classes at their local recreation center. This is exactly what Darrell and I did this past year. Like many couples, we have different interests. I am more in to the fine arts while Darrell is interested in more physically active activities such as karate and rock climbing.

I like to journal, expressing my thoughts. I have always been better at communicating and expressing my ideas and perspectives through the written word. Before losing my sight, I would write using pen and paper; however, now that I am totally blind, I utilize the computer. Journaling is another constructive way in which one can cope with stress or depression, especially for the blind or disabled who often feel isolated and alone, not being able to relate to others or feeling uncomfortable talking with a professional counselor. Ceramics is an excellent outlet for self expression and enables one to use their right brain to create and relieve stress.

Darrell took another approach to deal with his stress. Karate was a way for him to get more exercise and clear his head. The same was true for rock climbing, though this activity was much more physically challenging.

If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed and extremely stressed,

consider participating in recreational activities such as those we have described. It will alleviate your stress, increase your energy and enable you to focus on work and other issues that bombard us in our daily lives.