Toys and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

a colorful pile of wrapped gift boxes

We have pulled together a number of suggestions for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired who are looking for fun, accessible games and toys to give—as well as gifts and gadgets for your teenagers!

But the best advice we can offer is: just try it. Toys don't have to serve a developmental purpose! It's fun to buy something just because your child will like it.

Oh, and one final word of hard-earned advice from blogger Emily Coleman: "Be sure to take those toys out of the packaging before you wrap them! Isn't it better to have the final result of all that unwrapping be a toy and not a package? It can take quite a while to get toys out of the packaging these days, so I don't want him waiting while I find the essentials to access the toy (i.e. scissors, screwdriver, jackhammer)."

Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

tower of glowing Lightsax bricks

Light Stax are illuminated construction blocks that use LED technology, but are still 100% compatible with existing traditional building blocks. Using their patented system, each Stax will magically light up as it is connected to a power base or any lit Stax. No special connectors or wires are needed. A great choice for children with cortical visual impairment.

Bop I! reaction game

The Bop It! is a perennial favorite that's available from most major retailers. The Bop It! calls out commands that come faster and faster as the game goes on. When you hear a command, you need to "bop it, pull it or twist it to stay in the game."

Peanuts Happiness Is... 2017 Calendar, featuring Snoopy and the whole gang gathered around his doghouse

National Braille Press's 2017 Peanuts™ "Happiness Is" Calendar is 12" x 12" (hanging on the wall it's 12" wide and 24" tall). The braille is included on clear plastic labels that go right over the print pages. And as always, our calendar features a Special Bonus — a sheet of 120 full-color stickers to mark birthdays, appointments, and other important days.

Wikki StixWikki Stix: Fun Activity Set for the Littlest Kids—They can be twisted, stuck on surfaces, shaped into animals, geometric shapes, letters and numbers and then untwisted and used over and over again. This set comes with 84 vividly colored stix, a 2-sided reusable playboard and an 8-page story booklet with creative ideas.
purple dinosaur toyThis cute and colorful Dinosaur Grasping Toy is great for developing fine motor skills. Wooden segments connected with elastic bungee can be positioned in multiple poses.
sneakers with braille tags that read Left and Right Braille Code Clothing—Created by the mother of a legally blind child, this clothing line represents independence, self-confidence, and pride.
tactile dominoes Dominoes With Raised Dots

Books and Magazines in Accessible Formats

National Braille Press offers a children's print/braille book of the month club—an annual subscription means that you will automatically receive twelve monthly print/braille books.

Frozen readalong story book and CD

Baking Illustrated: Chapter 8: Cookies and Brownies: The good folks at America's Test Kitchen have painstakingly tested every recipe they could find in order to discover the perfect, most fool-proof recipe for, say, the best sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, and of course, chocolate chip cookies. And if you've tried our other chapter from this book, you know that this is much more than a simple recipe list — it's more of a baking encyclopedia.

closeup of delicious, moist-looking brownies

Latke, the Lucky Dog: On the first night of Hanukkah, a family rescues a golden brown dog from the animal shelter and names it Latke in honor of the beginning of the holiday. Each night, he gets in a bit of trouble - eating a platter of sufganiyot (fried donuts), tearing open presents, chewing up candles — and each night the family gets a little angry, and then forgives him. A new pet is a growing experience for both the family and the pup, but this charming book focuses on Latke's gratitude for being taken in ("I am one lucky dog!") and forgiven. A brief description of the holiday is included. Ages 4 and up.

cover of Latke, the Lucky Dog

Totally Silly Jokes, by Alison Grambs: What's guaranteed to make you giggle and guffaw, curl up in a ball, and split your sides? These jokes will, because they're the silliest, zaniest, wackiest, and most groan-inducing you've ever heard! Available in braille or e-braille formats.

Totally Silly Jokes, by Alison Grambs

Scholastic News® Subscriptions from American Printing House for the Blind (APH): APH offers accessible editions of Scholastic News at a cost comparable to regular print subscriptions. And Federal Quota funds may be used! To place your order, visit shop.aph.org.

sample cover of Scholastic News Magazine, featuring penguins

Seedlings offers gift certificates for overwhelmed grandparents, or anyone who wants to share their love of reading. Check out what's new on Seedlings.

Seedlings logo

Gift Ideas for Teenagers, Young Adults, and College Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Apple productsAccessWorld notes that "All Apple products, including iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks, have VoiceOver, an integrated screen reader that reads aloud whatever text is on the screen. VoiceOver makes it possible for people without vision to operate a device without sighted assistance." If you're in the market for a relatively inexpensive electronic gift, consider the iPod Shuffle for under $50. For someone with a higher budget, the iPad or iPod touch cost several hundred dollars. If you don't want to buy a device, another option is an iTunes gift card, and then you can point your teenager to AFB's list of accessible mobile apps.

the Shea Embrace gift set from L'Occitane, showing a tin of ultra rich body cream, hand and body wash, foot cream, hand cream, and an extra-gentle soap packed in an illustrated box

L'Occitane is a great source of multisensory gifts like lotions, fragrances, and candles. In 2000, L'Occitane received an Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind for its efforts to make its products accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired through braille labeling on its packaging.

talking atomic clock

The Chicago Lighthouse store offers an Atomic Talking Clock and Calendar as well as many other accessible clock options for harried students trying to stay on schedule!

dark copper pendant with the word love brailled on it and a small raised heart

Braille "Love" Pendant—Jewelry designer Kelly Fehr from 'Jewelry in Braille' creates jewelry for her braille-reading niece, Emily, with braille in every design! This is a 1.25" x .25" piece of pure dark copper with the word "love" on it and a small raised heart at the bottom. The pendant is strung on a 16-inch waxed cotton cord with a lobster clasp.

pocket money brailler

Stocking stuffer alert: the Pocket Money Brailler comes on a keychain, and allows you to mark one, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred dollar bills—just place bills between the two plastic brailled strips and press together.

brailled Starbucks gift card Look for Starbucks' "The Beauty of Braille" gift card—Created in honor of National Disability Awareness Month, this card features the Starbucks logo displayed in braille, a simple way to improve the Starbucks experience.

Gift Ideas for Parents and Teachers

AFB now offers fun mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, and even jewelry embossed with Helen Keller quotes.

Braille Bug mug

You can send a free accessible, large print eCard featuring a Helen Keller quotation to a friend or loved one.

Helen Keller kneels with four children who are all holding holiday toys

InBraille™ greeting cards from the Chicago Lighthouse celebrate the beauty of braille—for those who can see, and those who cannot. Each cover features a unique, contemporary design reflecting the pattern of dots in the card's embossed braille message.

Happy Holidays card design in braille and print, including ornaments hanging in the pattern that spells out Happy Holidays in simbraille

Print/braille holiday cards from National Braille Press send a simple message of love and peace. Wish your colleagues, friends, and family peace and goodwill with our unique print/braille holiday cards. The front has the word "peace" in dark blue and in braille, as an elegant dove — olive branch in its beak — glides above. Inside reads: "Peace on earth and goodwill toward all."

holiday cards from National Braille Press: peace written in dark blue and in braille, as an elegant dove — olive branch in its beak — glides above

Hadley's 2016 Braille Holiday Card features a watercolor and mixed-media collage depicting a quiet winter landscape of colorful, vintage-patterned paper trees, as tactile snowflakes fall from the sky. Each snowflake and a solitary tree are embossed. As a special touch, hidden in the snowflakes along the top of the card, the word “peace” is spelled out in braille. In the Hadley tradition, the 2016 Braille Holiday Card will carry the greeting "Wishing you peace, happiness and the spirit of the season" in both print and braille.

2016 holiday card with watercolor and mixed-media collage of trees and snowflakes


Recommended Resources from FamilyConnect

Where Do Cookies Come From? Making Holiday Cookies With Children Who Are Blind—Baking is a great way for children to practice motor, language, and vision skills while having delicious fun. Here are suggestions from Anne McComiskey about how your little person can become a wonderful sous chef and build skills and concepts as they make magic in the kitchen. oatmeal cookies with M-n-Ms
Sharing the Holidays with Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired—For those of us with a child who is visually impaired we not only have to think about organizing our families' activities for the holidays, but also how to include our visually impaired children in a way that will be enjoyable to them. As a mom of one such child, Emily happens to have a few thoughts on this very topic. Important things to remember over the holidays are keeping with tradition, teaching in the moment, adaptation, and time management. Coleman family holiday photo
Calling All Gift Ideas—How is it already December...again?!? Yep, it is the holiday season, which means many of us are purchasing presents for our children with visual impairments. Emily blogs about searching high and low for the perfect gifts for her unique child and instead comes up with some options that will work, but may not be absolutely perfect. Share your ideas with other FamilyConnect parents! And also check out the following blog posts from a few years back on holiday parties, holiday letters, and more brainstorming of gift ideas! Emily and her son, Eddie
Practicing Social Skills During the Holiday Season—Dr. Sharon Sacks is a teacher of students with visual impairments, a university professor in teacher preparation for students with visual impairments and students with multiple disabilities, a school administrator, a researcher, and a person with a visual impairment. She writes about ideas and strategies to help your children practice their social skills while enjoying the beauty and joy of the winter holidays. Sharon Sacks
Choosing Toys and Creating a Play Area for Your Child—this article outlines some of the features to look for in a toy for your infant or toddler, and describes how to set up a safe and stimulating play area for your child.
bright musical toy
Teaching Your Visually Impaired Baby to Play With Toys—practical ideas about how to introduce new toys to your blind child, and help him learn how to play.
baby with low vision playing with toy

Other Gift Guides to Explore!

snowmanNational Braille Press 2016 Holiday Sale and Gifts—Order three books from the list below, get the fourth one FREE! Order two books from this list, get the third one for half-price!
Happy Holidays! image of wrapped present AccessWorld Holiday Shopping at Best Buy and QVC—With the holidays rapidly approaching, it's time to "shop 'til you drop." The good news is you can do this from the comfort of your home instead of dealing with crowds, unhelpful store personnel, and out-of-stock items.
VisionAware Getting Started Kit • VisionAware.org, the American Foundation for the Blind's website for adults who are losing their sight, offers Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, including adapted products and solutions.
brightly colored children's toys Good Toys for Blind Kids: Suggestions From Parents—The National Federation of the Blind's National Organization of Parents of Blind Children has pulled together a list made up of regular toys that can be purchased through local shops or toy stores.
bongosToys R Us Differently Abled Toy Guide—For nearly two decades, Toys R Us has published the annual Toys "R" Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, an easy-to-use resource featuring specially selected toys that encourage play for children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities.
WonderBaby.org: Resources for Parents of Blind Children The Best Christmas Toys for Blind Children!—WonderBaby offers some of their favorite toys as well as some links offering tips on how to choose the best toys for your child.
Eni cylindrical puzzle with braille markings 27 Braille Toys for Kids Who Are Blind—The best way for any child to learn to read is through constant exposure to the written language... and through play! Sighted children play with alphabet blocks or simple word puzzles when they are young to help develop a foundation for literacy, and blind children have the same opportunities with toys in braille.
Paths to Literacy logo Holiday Gift Ideas from Paths to Literacy for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired—ideas with a literary theme, from braille magnetic letters to tactile craft ideas.

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