FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice
by Shannon Carollo
When it comes to teaching our children who are blind or visually impaired to manage money wisely, we may desire a ready-made tutorial, perhaps a 10-step program that equips our children with a lifetime of financial literacy and security. I’m here to remind us that teaching our children financial literacy and money management is an enduring process.
It involves our children understanding choice-making; wants vs needs; identification and value of money; work/how money is earned; goal-setting; restraint/self-discipline; budgeting; wise spending and saving; banking systems; loans and debt; credit and debit cards; and investing.
Now, most children are unacquainted with money management, as they are kept in the dark about their families’ incomes and expenses (understandably), and the decision of what they own, eat, and wear isn’t theirs to make. Children and teens who are blind or visually impaired are further disadvantaged because they do not learn about money and the market by observation (which we call incidental learning).
Here’s what can be done:
Expect your child to accomplish chores. This is the foundation of her understanding of work.
Openly discuss finances with your child. Tell your child when you are choosing to save your money instead of making a desired purchase, when you are choosing to purchase a good or service for which you’ve budgeted, as well as the cost of goods and services.
Allow your child to practice earning and managing a small allowance. For example, a year ago we decided to refrain from buying our children random toys, souvenirs, and gifts “from them” at holidays and birthday parties, but instead, provide them with a weekly allowance to purchase their own toys, souvenirs (if they so choose), as well as gifts for friends and family. Our school-age children are now interested in the cost of items and must save for bigger-ticket purchases. We will gradually give them control over the funds we would be spending on them, and I’m sure they will learn from natural consequences and early exposure to managing money.
Involve your child in your family’s saving and spending opportunities. Your children don’t need to be told specific numbers, but they can be aware of your budget percentages, goals, and the like. Additionally, if you invest money, encourage your child to invest a small amount, and he may be interested in watching the stock market.
Volunteer with your children and encourage your teen to get a job!
Work with your child’s Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) to address accommodations related to vision loss.
To further assist you, utilize the following money management resources:
- Gather instructional activities from AFB CareerConnect’s Money Management lesson series. The lessons cover budgeting; setting long- and short-term financial goals; understanding the banking system; reducing and eliminating debt; investing into the stock and bond markets; and giving responsibly.
- Read U.S. Bank’s article and Braille Work's article to learn what accessible banking entails.
- Read Common Financial Myths to Debunk for Your Older Child or Teen with Vision Loss.
- Find age-appropriate financial literacy activities and conversation starters for your son or daughter using Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Money As You Grow website.
- Utilize teaching tools and parental guides for helping your child develop into a financially responsible adult within The Mint’s It Makes Perfect Cents website.
What would you add? We’d love to hear your suggestions and resources for teaching children and teens with vision loss about money management.
by Shannon Carollo
I’ll never forget the excitement of sitting at the Clinique makeup counter the morning of my first formal school dance—not only was my makeup being professionally applied at minimal cost (with the purchase of at least one product), I was eagerly memorizing the application techniques in effort to replicate them at home. This was the day I was finally given permission to wear foundation, blush, and red-tinted lip gloss and not only for the dance but also for use on a daily basis.
I was, in my estimation, now a legit teenager.
With prom quickly approaching, I wonder if you have considered providing your teen daughter who is blind or visually impaired the same rite of passage—makeup application education and the freedom to wear it.
But how does one who is blind or visually impaired independently apply makeup? Good question. I have compiled four resources in response.
Resources for Applying Makeup As a Visually Impaired Teen
FamilyConnect’s Makeup Application article provides general recommendations for discussing the choice to wear or not wear makeup and for applying makeup.
AFB’s VisionAware site has an article series entitled Makeup Application After Vision Loss. While geared for adults who have lost vision, the techniques are just as beneficial to blind or visually impaired teens.
YouTube sensation Molly Burke, a teen with retinitis pigmentosa, recorded herself applying makeup in her video Mirrorless Makeup: Blind Girl Makeup Tutorial. Molly seems to be a great role model for girls who are visually impaired as she seems well adjusted to her vision loss and regularly discusses how simple accommodations give her the freedom of independence. I highly recommend watching this video alongside your teen.
The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has an article entitled Taking Up Makeup in which it discusses the social connectedness and self-esteem makeup offers as well as a collection of helpful application techniques.
These resources will teach:
- the value of professional skin color to makeup color matching, as this will be a method for independent shopping when your teen is living independently
- recommended application tips such as using fingertips when possible
- use of specific application tools such as a travel size mascara wand instead of a full-size wand for an easier application
- methods for organizing and labeling makeup
- a systematic approach to application, to ensure the process is consistent and complete
- use of lighting and contrast to benefit those with low vision
Consider reviewing the resources with your daughter and scheduling a makeup application education and matching session just in time for this year’s prom.
Related AFB FamilyConnect Resources
Structure a Meaningful “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” for a Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually ImpairedPosted on 4/19/2017
by Shannon Carollo
It is my intent to draw our attention to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2017” and devise a plan for making the experience enjoyable, accessible, and tailored to each of our children who are blind or visually impaired.
Mark the date, April 27th, 2017, in your calendar and begin making arrangements; this experience is well worth your investment. "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," is a day of bonding between parents and children as well as a day wrought with job exploration and exposure to job skills!
Utilize the Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation’s Bright Ideas Guide to prepare for the experience and consider the following to make the experience accessible and meaningful for your child with a visual impairment:
Tips for Taking Your Child with a Visual Impairment to Work
- Plan an age and developmentally-appropriate day for your child. The experience is recommended for children and teens 8-18, but I say the experience is completely customizable. For a young child, plan to include her in, say, one hour of your workday.
- Beforehand, create a simple tactile map of the building, one area of the building, or even the layout of the office. Using Paths to Literacy’s Creating a Tactile Map resource, you can help provide your child with an orientation to your workplace before setting foot in the office.
- Plan a few activities or experiences based on your child’s individualized learning goals. This may mean intentionally modeling good manners, using a calendar system together, involving your child in group work, or problem solving aloud.
- Begin the workday with an orientation to the building. To assist you, use FamilyConnect's Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Orient to a New (School) Building article.
- Recognize your often-unspoken job expectations and explicitly teach them to your child. Remember, your child isn’t learning by observing (called incidental learning). Speak about the formality of clothing and shoes you choose; the importance of your timely arrival; the requirement of your participation in meetings; and the avenues you utilize when questions or concerns arise. Use CareerConnect's article on employer expectations to assist you.
- Identify and discuss the social skills and work habits, known as "soft skills", which allow you to be successful on the job. Talk beforehand about how you handle frustration, take initiative, and show respect for the employment team. Read CareerConnect's article on building positive work habits to review important "soft skills" transferable to all jobs and careers.
- Communicate the technical skills, or "hard skills", you are paid to execute. Share how you acquired the skills (through education and former work experience) and how you continue improving with additional training and practice. Next, involve your child in the executions of tasks, using hand under hand or hand over hand if necessary, and share your research on how the task can be accommodated for an employee who is blind or visually impaired.
- Talk with your child about why you work. From the income to the mental challenges and social connectedness, give your child the "big picture" of your day-to-day grind.
- Introduce your child to coworkers, clients, and staff at every level. Ask the individuals to communicate their job responsibilities to your child.
- Consider concepts which can be taught to your child while he's with you at work. If your child is quite young, have him explore basic “concepts” you encounter at work, such as a desk or an elevator. If you work in a hospital, take the opportunity to teach your child about a pharmacy. If you work in an office, take the opportunity to teach your child about cubicles and a break room. If you work at an airport, take the opportunity to teach your child about an air control tower.
- When the workday is complete, talk with your child about the experience. Find out what he learned, enjoyed, and disliked. Tell him what you enjoy about work and what you find frustrating or exhausting. Lastly, transition the discussion to what type of work your child wants to do in the future. Remember, people with vision loss are not limited to a “list of jobs blind people can do” and it’s never too early to begin dreaming of future work.
To get an idea of just how treasured and meaningful this day will be for your children, read former CareerConnect Program Manager Joe Strechay's account of visiting his dad's NYC office.
Enjoy the day and let us know how it goes!
Transition to Independence Resources by Age
by Shannon Carollo
Parents and family members of children with cortical visual impairment, or a brain-based visual processing disorder, you are far from alone. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, cortical visual impairment (CVI) is the most common cause of permanent vision loss in children.
Yet as common as CVI is, its educational implications are often grossly misunderstood.
Advocating for Appropriate Services
Your story may be like that of Bernadette Jackel who wrote the FamilyConnect article, "Parents of a Child with Cortical Visual Impairment Speaks Out." Ms. Jackel and her family learned about her son’s diagnosis and fought diligently for her son’s appropriate education; it was only after a due process hearing that Ms. Jackel’s son received a free and appropriate education, as is federally mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
As Ms. Bernadette Jackel’s story exemplifies, it is imperative that parents learn the functional and educational implications of CVI. You will not only be learning strategies for your child to access the environment, tools, and information in the home, but you will also be equipped to ensure your child is receiving an appropriate education in the public-school system. Without a doubt, you are your child's strongest advocate.
Resources on CVI
Below you will find resources to learn about CVI and its functional and educational implications:
- Statement on Cortical Visual Impairment by Christine Roman, Linda Baker-Nobles, Gordon N. Dutton, Tracy Evans Luiselli, Betsy S. Flener, James Emery Jan, Alan Lantzy, Carey Matsuba, D. Luisa Mayer, Sandra Newcomb, and Anne S. Nielsen
- Cortical Visual Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Neurological Vision Loss by the American Foundation for the Blind
- Cortical Visual Impairment Pediatric Visual Diagnosis Fact Sheet by Blind Babies Foundation as provided by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Little Bear Sees, a foundation which provides families with information, products, and tools for their children with CVI
Publications on CVI
- Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy
- Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children, edited by Amanda Hall Lueck and Gordon N. Dutton
- CVI Focus Series: Assessment, Intervention, and Literacy for Individuals with Cortical Visual Impairment (eLearning) by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy
Lastly, please join the FamilyConnect community and connect with other families who have children with CVI.
by AFB Staff
By Amy Lynn Smith
Ever since learning that his daughter, Rachel, would be blind, David Hyche has actively sought ways to make sure she can fully participate in all the joys of childhood and life.
When Rachel was still a toddler, David was helping his church plan an Easter egg hunt and wanted to find a way for her to join in like other children.
“It’s no fun having an adult take your hand and put it on an Easter egg,” he says. “Kids need to find it themselves.”
A bit of searching turned up a man in Los Angeles who was making beeping Easter eggs. David ran with the inspiration and started making them himself. In the 11 years since, the project has expanded from his home state of Alabama into a national endeavor. It’s supported in part by a professional organization David belongs to, the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI).
IABTI adopted the creation of beeping Easter eggs as a charitable effort and donates about $10,000 a year toward the purchase of the components, David explains. Then bomb technicians and police officers around the country build the eggs for area schools and organizations.
“Blind children being able to do things independently is important for their self-esteem and enjoyment,” says David, who is an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and teaches a class for bomb technicians.
Rachel, who is now 12 years old, still enjoys participating in beeping Easter egg hunts, like those hosted by the Alabama Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (AAPVI), an organization in which David is involved.
“There are seven beeping Easter egg hunts in Alabama, and we add several cities across the country every year,” David says. “It’s really cool that the program continues to grow.”
Read David Hyche's story of raising his daughter, Rachel, who is visually impaired: Father Uses What He's Learned from Raising a Daughter Who Is Blind to Help Other Parents.
Beeping Easter Egg Hunts for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
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