One day, my friend came to visit my dorm and started panicking over the fact that I hadn’t organized the cords and cables for my various electronic devices. They asked me if I knew anything about how to organize and identify cords and cables for low vision, and choosing cables with low vision, and I told them that I honestly had no clear organizational method for these items. They informed me that they would not be leaving until we sat down and figured something out, and about an hour later all of the cords in my dorm room were much better organized than before. Here are my tips for learning how to organize and identify cords and cables for low vision and blindness.
Choose cords with unique textures and/or colors
One of the things that has helped me tremendously is having different textures and colors for my most-used electronics whenever possible. For example, my favorite phone charger has a gray weave texture, while my iPad charger is white and blue with a smoother texture. Since I would frequently confuse these two cables, having multiple ways to tell them apart has helped a lot.
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Try to avoid having cords that blend into the floor or wall
Whenever I can, I avoid having solid black or solid white cables, because they can easily blend into my dark colored floor or light colored wall. If I have to choose though, I prefer to use white cables because they pop against the floor and I can easily find them in a backpack or in a box. I also try to avoid putting two cables that are the same color next to each other in an outlet or on a surge protector so I can distinguish them more easily.
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Put colored tape around cords
Since many of my cords were the same color, my friend used colored washi tape we had on hand to wrap around the top of the cords so I could easily tell where the ends of cords were, as well as distinguish which cord was which. For example, the cord for my Amazon Echo Dot had bright teal tape on the end, while the cord for my keyboard had bright yellow tape since my keyboard had yellow keys.
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Add tactile labels
While I do not have trouble with recognizing color, if that was the case my friend would have added tactile labels or different textures so that I could easily recognize cords instead. I don’t feel comfortable using tactile dots on charging cables because I am worried about them overheating, so I would use something like textured tape or putting the chargers in a special container when not plugged in that had tactile dots or Braille labels.
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Have a central charging station
I set up a central charging area in my dorm for all of my favorite electronics so that they can easily be plugged in at the end of the day. When I am at home, I rest my electronics on top of a table and have the cords in a special holder on top of the table so that they don’t fall on the floor. At college, I just put them next to my desk, with the exception of my phone which stays next to my bed in case of emergency alerts.
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Make a list of where things are plugged in
Another helpful thing my friend recommended was making a list of where items were plugged in, and which cable connected to what device. One of the things we did was draw out a diagram of my surge protector and numbered the outlets from 1 to 7, with 1 being next to the on/off switch. Next to the numbers, we wrote the names of each of the items that were plugged in, such as lamp, electric blanket, and similar.
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Use hair ties to wrap cords
In order to keep myself from tripping over loose cords or having them get tangled in storage, my mom wrapped longer cords with brightly colored hair ties. That way, I could easily identify them and transport them as needed. I’ve also used velcro cord managers, but I like the hair ties for cords I don’t use too often.
Learn to identify the tips of cords and cables
I have trouble identifying the tips of cords and cables due to reduced sensitivity in my hands from a brain condition. However it’s helpful for people with visual impairments to know which cord goes to which device, and learn to identify cable tips by feel.
Some examples of cord and cable tips to know include:
- Lightning cable
- Laptop charger
- Chargers for assistive technology
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I’m grateful that my friend was able to help me with learning how to how to organize and identify cords and cables for low vision, and that we were able to blend together our knowledge on accessibility and working with computers to come up with a better system to keep items organized. I hope this post is helpful for others learning to identify and manage cords and cables with visual impairment!