Q: The holiday season is approaching fast, and I’m looking for some gift ideas for my grandmother and sister, both of whom are living with vision loss. Do you have any suggestions?

A: CNIB has hundreds of unique products on offer, specially designed for people of all ages living with vision loss. From date books for the year to come, to kitchen gadgets, games, watches and electronic devices, CNIB is sure to have something for everyone on your list.

CNIB’s demonstration centres are generally busy throughout the year, but as the holidays approach we’re really busy. In fact, most days we have to call in a volunteer to assist with taking orders in our Halifax office. It just goes to show how popular our products are for holiday gift-giving.

CNIB Shoppers from all Walks of Life

The typical holiday shopper at a CNIB demonstration centre is between their mid-40s and mid-50s. It depends on the time of year, but as the holidays approach our customers tend to be in that age range. They are often sighted people shopping for their kids, or for their older parents.

The other group we get are people 55 and older who come to us after a recent low-vision assessment to ask about products they can use. And of course we have older customers who have been with us for years.

Watches and Calendars

The biggest sellers at this time of the year are large-print CNIB calendars. In a year we have six or seven hundred telephone orders placed in our location alone.

Talking watchesare also extremely popular. The less expensive models are often sold as smaller gift items, as are the calendars, and we also sell a lot of watches for kids and teens.

Gifts for All Ages

For people of all ages on your gift list, CNIB sells a range of jumbo and large-print playing cards, which are another popular stocking-stuffer or smaller gift item at this time of year.

The Big Button Speakerphoneis another handy item for people of all ages, featuring extra-large keypads with large-print numbers for ease of use.

Another item I love is the large-button TV remote. I bought one for myself, and my kids haven’t lost it yet. In fact, one of my kids tried to take it with him when he moved out, but I wouldn’t let him.

However, there are some items we don’t suggest you buy as gifts – magnifiersare a good example. It is impossible to know exactly how a person sees, since everyone’s eye condition affects them differently. Better to choose another kind of gift unless the recipient is shopping with you in person. Otherwise, you’ll end up making trips back and forth to CNIB before you get the right one.

Another excellent way to save time is to log onto the CNIB website and have a look at our catalogue. You can order products by phone (1-866-659-1843) and have them shipped directly to your home.

Colour photo of Randy Harnish

The Expert:

Product Demonstration Specialist Randy Harnishhas worked with CNIB in Halifax, NS, for over 32 years. A self-confessed “jack of all trades,” he began with Caterplan, CNIB’s catering service operation, and now works in Halifax’s Product Demonstration Centre.