Thoughts on Prepping for the Blind and Visually Impaired

In past posts and on DestinySurvival Radio, I’ve touched on the subject of preparedness for people with disabilities. But, specifically, what about prepping for the blind and visually impaired?

In general, there’s much about prepping which relates to all of us, regardless of whether or not someone has a disability. We all need food, water and shelter to survive. However, there are some extra considerations to be dealt with. Therefore, if you know someone who’s blind or visually impaired, share this post with them and invite them to listen to this week’s DestinySurvival Radio.


Why The Following Confession?

If you’ve read my About page, you may have surmised that I’m blind, though I have a little usable vision. I don’t talk much about it here or on DestinySurvival Radio because it’s not particularly relevant to the subject of preparedness for all of us. However, on yesterday’s DestinySurvival Radio, I confronted blindness and preparedness head on. And here’s why.

I subscribe to an audio magazine for and by the blind called the NewsReel. The December 2013 issue contained the audio of a seminar about putting together three day kits, given by Nolan Crabb and his wife Valerie. The class took place at the Ohio state convention of the American Council of the Blind in November. I was glad it took place and contacted Nolan and asked him to be my DestinySurvival Radio guest to talk about that seminar and more as it relates to preparedness for the blind. I encourage you to hear our conversation.


Who’s Nolan Crabb?

I took time on my show to read all the bio info Nolan sent me because I want listeners to grasp the idea that blind people can be active, productive members of society. I share his credentials here as well for your consideration. You’ll note he’s a staunch advocate for the blind.


Nolan Crabb is a native of Ogden, Utah, where he attended the Utah School for the Blind and graduated from Weber High School. Nolan holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. He also holds a certification as an assistive technology trainer from the Accessible Technology Institute in Tucson, Arizona.

Nolan spent much of his working life as a writer and editor. He was a general assignment reporter for the Ogden Standard-Examiner, and he worked briefly for what is now the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City. He has
held editing jobs in northern California and Chicago and was, for nine years, the editor of The Braille Forum, published by the American Council of the Blind in Washington, D.C. He also worked as the assistant editor of Dialogue Magazine, published by Blindskills, Inc. of Salem, Oregon.

Nolan was first introduced to computers in the winter of 1977 and has been working with them steadily since. In the late 1980s, when he was serving as the director of an independent living center, he began providing computer training to many of the center’s consumers. In 1999, when the opportunity became available to provide computer instruction to the staff at Rehabilitation Services for the Blind in Missouri, he was eager to once
again enjoy the benefits that come with offering computer training to others.

In June, 2007, Nolan was hired at The Ohio State University as its Director of Assistive Technology-a position in which he provides training and software to disabled staff members and university faculty.

Nolan has been a member of the Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council. He served as a member of the advisory council for Oregon’s Talking Book and Braille Services, and he has been a member of the Oregon State Library Board of Trustees. He represented the American Council of the Blind as a member of the National Association of Radio Reading Services board of directors. He is currently President of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio. He was recently appointed to the board of directors of Newsreel Magazine.

Nolan describes himself as a voracious reader. In his spare time, he continues to do some freelance writing and dabbles in the field of audio book narration and digital audio production.

In early 2008, he created an Internet mailing list dedicated to the writing and distribution of book reviews focusing on books from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Known as DB-Review, The list specifically focuses on digital talking books, and its members are encouraged to share reviews and comments regarding books they have read. From an initial membership of some 50 people, the list has grown to include more than 360 members, most of whom post their reviews and thoughts on books.

He is currently involved in Internet broadcasting, creating three three-hour programs per week for

He and his wife, the former Valerie Hekking of Benyon, Utah, are the parents of four daughters and six grandchildren.


Unlike most blind people I know, Nolan has been familiar with preparedness since childhood, when his family set aside storage food. In a time of difficulty, they used that food, and that experience left an impression on him. He says he’s no world class prepper today, but he and his wife do keep a supply of storage food on hand.


Why a Prepping Seminar for the Blind?

A nudge toward self reliance and less dependency on the government was a main goal Nolan had in mind for the seminar’s convention attendees. The hope was to change perspective from “There’s nothing I can do” to “It may not be much, but I can do something.” As you and I know, when there’s a disaster, rescue may not come soon.

Having been around blind people over my lifetime, I agree with Nolan’s assessment that we (speaking collectively of the blind) often develop learned helplessness and dependency on others. The level of fear related to preparedness may be higher than for most in the general population, too.

Not all of us who are blind or visually impaired have had the positive reinforcement and training Nolan and I–and others I know–have had. Much depends on upbringing and one’s environment. So it’s especially important to encourage self reliance, particularly when it means surviving a disaster.

On the other hand, as Nolan and I noted in our conversation, you’ll find blind people at different skill levels, income levels, and mindsets. So it’s hard to make generalizations. We’re all different and don’t necessarily fit the stereotypes normally associated with blindness.

But back to the seminar.

The one hour event wasn’t meant to provide extensive training. Rather, the focus was on putting together a 72-hour kit. Nolan and his wife introduced the idea that such a thing was both necessary and possible. This was likely a new idea for many there that day, and it was well received.

The emphasis was on starting with some basic, inexpensive, mostly nonperishable food items, such as peanut butter, crackers, trail lmix, tuna and beef sticks. A complete list of items came from a blog post you can view here. Seminar attendees received a Braille and large print paper with the list and menu suggesting how and when to use the food supplies.

The kit’s contents would go into a hard container designed to be moved with one hand, so the other hand could be free to use a long white cane or keep a guide dog under control. Several items weren’t included in this kit, but Nolan and his wife stressed the need to put together another bag containing other supplies.

Keeping insulin cool is a must for blind diabetics. I mentioned to Nolan that I’d heard about an item that could be useful called the FRIO Insulin Cooling Case. Jim Cobb mentioned it in The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness.


Getting a Bllind or Visually Impaired Person into Prepping

At the risk of sounding preachy, when you, my reader, encounter a blind person, I urge you to set aside the stereotypes and acknowledge that person as the human being he or she is. Don’t assume you know about blindness because your mother or grandmother went blind.

Before disaster strikes,if you have a blind friend or family member, explore some possibilities. For example, some blind people are amateur radio operators. Could a blind ham be useful in your prepping group? Could you use an extra hand when passing out food, water and supplies at a designated site during a disaster recovery operation?

Or would you be willing to become a prepper mentor to a blind person? Would you be able to provide transportation in an emergency situation?


To Find Out More…

Nolan and I talked about more, including advice for blind preppers and his perspective on use of firearms by the blind. It may surprise you. Hear my entire conversation with Nolan Crabb when you listen to DestinySurvival Radio for December 19, 2013 (Right click to download.) If you have questions and want to contact Nolan, e-mail him at nolan.crabb(at) and replace with (at)with @ in the address. You’re welcome to contact me as well. Just use the contact tab at the top of the page.

Nolan and I agreed there isn’t much in the way of preparedness publications geared toward the blind. Some material is available in accessible formats, but it’s limited and of a general nature meant for the public. I’ve read a few books in audio form, and I’ve listed a few on my page for people with disabilities, linked in the next paragraph. Fortunately, a number of the blind have a computer or smart phone with access to preparedness material online.

For more on preparedness for people with disabilities, go to my page on Preparedness Resources for Those with Disabilities. Also go here to view the post on my DestinySurvival Radio conversation with Paul Faust of

If you’re blind or visually impaired, take heart. You can do more than you think you can. Get started prepping, no matter how small the effort.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Prepping for the Blind and Visually Impaired”

  1. Fascinating stuff here, John. As a fellow blind person who was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who both advocated for me and ingrained in me an unstoppable mindset, I can agree with your statement that I don’t often consider my blindness at all relevant. 🙂 I look forward to checking out this episode of your show in particular, especially the blindness and firearms discussion.

    Really intriguing site; best of luck to you. Was great to connect earlier in the week via AWeber.

    Warmest Wishes,

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