Taking Care of Assistive Devices
The term "assistive devices" covers a wide range of equipment made to enable students with visual impairments to participate in most of the same academic and physical activities as their sighted classmates. The term can refer to:
- Low vision devices such as magnifiers and monoculars
- Assistive technology such as a portable notetaker or refreshable braille display
- Tools such as the long cane, used for mobility
Regardless of which devices your child uses, by the time he's in grade school he should be learning how to take care of the equipment. Here are some suggestions for helping him take on those responsibilities.
- Give your child a specific place at home for keeping his assistive devices. A shelf or drawer in his bedroom or in the kitchen might be specifically for his equipment.
- When he uses his equipment away from home, he should have a comfortable, secure way to carry the items he needs. A backpack or fanny pack may work well for this. It's a good idea to put items such as a magnifier or monocular in a small case so they don't roll around in the bottom of his backpack or fanny pack.
- Teach your child how to care for his equipment. If his portable notetaker needs to be charged each night, show him how to plug in the charger. Over time increase the amount of responsibility he has for the care of his equipment.
- Help your child develop a checklist and schedule, in braille or print, of what he needs to do daily or weekly to maintain his equipment. You may want to have a way to check to be sure he does all the steps. For example, you could have him put a tactile sticker next to each item on his list as he completes the necessary tasks—at least until it becomes a standard routine.
Equipment can be expensive, so you may want to have your child do some "test runs" until you're sure he can handle the responsibility. One way would be to give him an object about the same size as his monocular and have him carry this pretend equipment with him each day for a week or two. At the end of that time, if he hasn't lost or broken the object, let him try taking care of the real monocular.