Browse By Topic: Arts and Leisure

Reinforcing Music Literacy: Lighthouse-SF Blind Music Academy

This past summer, we discussed the unique value that music lessons and music therapy add to your child’s expanded core curriculum (ECC). We highlighted some of the ways that private music lessons, music therapy sessions, and access to music programs in elementary and high schools across the country can enhance social interaction skills, regulate emotions, and fine-tune communication skills. Music contributes to another very important


How Music Therapy in the Expanded Core Curriculum Can Improve Your Visually Impaired Child’s Life

Michael Bertolami is a Board-Certified Music Therapist at Perkins School for the Blind and, for the last 18 years, has been observing the benefits of music as an auditory experience, a method of communication, and as a facilitator for social interaction and connection. As Perkins is a multi-program school with an early learning, elementary/middle, deaf-blind, and high school program, the music therapy department considers their role as therapists, instead of educators, to be interdisciplinary and integral to the full development of its students. Meeting Kids Where They Are Through Music During one of his first sessions, Michael Bertolami was introducing his group of students to a variety of musical instruments and


Hands-On Summer Activities for Children with Visual Impairments

Editor's Note: Today's post is from guest blogger Paula Korelitz. Paula, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), offers her suggestions for hands-on activities for your child who is visually impaired. Summer’s officially here! This extended vacation time provides an opportunity to add to your child’s general knowledge base and encourage self-confidence and growth. It’s also a great time to start asking your child what he wants to be. Believe it or not, your child’s age doesn’t matter, even toddlers may have a ready answer to that question. So, what can we incorporate this summer that’s hands-on, super fun, meaningful, and promotes knowledge, self-confidence, growth, or career awareness? Let’s take a look. Hands-On Summer Activities for


Dancing Dots and Summer Music Academy

Editor's Note: Today's blog post is from guest blogger Bill McCann. Bill is the founder and president of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology and director of a summer music academy for young musicians who are blind or visually impaired. Summer Music Academy for Youth with Visual Impairments By Bill McCann Once again this August, I will be heading out to Northern California to lead our fourth annual Summer Music Academy session at the Enchanted Hills Camp near Napa. The session will run for 10 days: a week at Enchanted Hills Camp in the mountains above Napa, California, followed by three days of cultural events, presentations, and our closing performance at the headquarters of the San Francisco Lighthouse, sponsor of the Summer Music Academy.


Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children: Summer Camp Option for Children with Visual Impairments

The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children has been spicing up summertime with beach days, sports, and day trip adventures along the Jersey Shore since 1972. Camp Director, Anna Ackley, shares what they have on the horizon for 2017 and the essence of being a part of Diller. Summer 2017 at Diller The Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children is getting ready to open its doors to campers for their annual summer camp sessions, and this year’s agenda is jam packed with fun. The camp’s mission is to provide a home-away-from-home where kids can engage in community events, run around in the sun, and establish lasting friendships with


Adding a Braille Touch to Special Occasions - An Activity for Mother's Day

Editor's note: Mother’s Day is around the corner! Dads and others, what a perfect opportunity to work alongside your child to create a tactile card for Mom using a braille design. Have fun and don’t forget to make the experience meaningful to your child! Adding a Braille Touch to Special Occasions By Sheila Rousey, VisionAware Peer Advisor It would seem that we celebrate a special occasion or holiday and, then before we know it, we are celebrating yet another one. Some holidays seem to get a bit more attention than others, but a visit to your local retail store’s card


Including Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in Easter Traditions

The goal of the day is idea-sharing. Let’s put our heads together and consider how to make the holiday of Easter, its traditions and celebrations, just as meaningful and enjoyable to a child with a visual impairment as it is to a child with full sight. What Is Easter? It helps to begin with a brief summary of the holiday. Similar to our discussion on including a child who is blind or visually impaired in Christmas traditions, we know Easter is a compilation of assorted traditions. Predominantly, many would say, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s son, three days after His death on


The Best Holiday Crafts

When you have a child who is blind, you don’t always receive homemade gifts from school that were made entirely by your children. It’s difficult for teachers and classroom assistants to let a child have total control over an art project. Therefore, we often receive projects that were done with significant support, which can honestly be disheartening to receive. My favorite art projects that come home are the ones that appear to be done entirely by my son. He has very little interest in crafts, isn’t inclined to spend a lot of time with art supplies, and cannot physically see the end product if it’s 2-dimensional. Therefore, I expect it’s a challenge to engage him in a project for any length of time. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8013" alt="A


Halloween Weekend Activities for Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Happy Halloween from FamilyConnect! Are you looking for some fun, sensory activities for your child with a visual impairment this Halloween? With only a few days left, here are some ideas you and your child can do this weekend. We hope you will give these must-do activities a try and share your experience with us! Trick-or-Treating. Let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t love trick-or-treating? Dressing up and going around the neighborhood with your friends and family is the best part of Halloween. And talk about a great opportunity for your child to show off their


"Trick-or-Treating" As an Orientation and Mobility Lesson- Oh Yeah!

Listen, this is where we get creative. Our kiddos want to trick-or-treat and that’s just what we’ll do. [Insert sneaky little laugh.] However, don’t think we can’t slip in some orientation and mobility throughout the process. Here’s what I have in mind. If trick-or-treating really is a motivator for your child, it’s time to invite your child to learn and practice a trick-or-treat route. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs of teaching a route, don’t


Top 5 Toys for Children with Visual Impairment

By Kathy Yoo At first, buying gifts for a child with visual impairment can be challenging. Whether it is for your granddaughter, cousin, or niece, there are many fun and accessible gift options for blind or visually impaired children that you may have yet to discover. When choosing a toy for a child who is visually impaired, search beyond the physical appearance of the toy. Since looks aren't the most significant factor for sight challenged kids, focus on toys with multi-sensory appeal. For example, try bright and colorful toys that are loud and have different textures, which would appeal to three out of the


Ladies Who Lunch: Lessons Learned During Mommy-Daughter Time

Since having my second daughter, I have come to realize just how difficult it can be for a blind mother of two toddlers to get around. Cumbersome car seats, a double wide stroller, and a back breaking diaper bag are just some of the baby essentials necessary for even the shortest spring outing. Although I know this awkward travel period is merely a bump in the road on my journey through blind parenting, I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to spend time with my daughters. My eldest is three years old and has recently been requesting some extra cuddles, reading time, and overall mommy attention. I told my husband I wanted to take her out for


Summer Camp and Your Child with a Visual Impairment

Who remembers having a tremendous summer camp experience? I certainly do. I was ten years old when I tasted freedom for a week alongside my best friend. It was summer church camp and by-golly I had a blast eating candy I purchased at the on- site store, talking for hours with my new friends on the bunk beds, and even unsuccessfully trying out for the talent show. I couldn’t wait for the following summer, and the following, and the following. To this day, those friends hold a special place in my heart. It’s easy to see the benefits of summer camp. The taste of freedom provides a safe place for children to practice mostly independent self-care,


Holiday Reflections

This guest blog post was written by long-time NAPVI Regional Coordinator Jeannette Christie, who works with families in the greater New York City region. Aww, the holidays. They can be joyful and stressful all at the same time. I think back to the time when my son was little and playing with toys. I remember how, of course, at the beginning of my journey in having a visually impaired child I bought no specialized toysjust toys off the shelf of Toys r Us or any toy store we went to. I am glad I didn’t know any better, because now I realize that when he went to school or played at someone’s house there wouldn’t be specialized toys available for him. I guess what I am saying is everyone’s family is different and there is no right or wrong way to


Inspired by the Holidays: Volunteering with Your Older Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Can I tell you my favorite holiday memory from childhood? I was 8 or 10; my parents, siblings, and I bundled up and squeezed into the minivan on our way to “Meals on Wheels”. We collected about 4 single-serving hot meals; slices of roasted turkey, runny mashed potatoes, green beans, and pecan pie enclosed in Styrofoam. We were given directions to 4 homes and off we went. I remember meeting adults my grandparents age who lived alone and who seemed eager to chat with our family. I instantly liked them. We gave each person a meal, accepted friendly hugs, and drove home changed. That began a tradition of serving others each


Inspired by the Holidays: A Letter from Santa and Literacy Galore for Your Child who is Blind or Visually Impaired

Thank you, holiday season, for generating major motivation for our beautiful little people to read and write. When my children come home from school this afternoon I will ask them to write a Christmas wish list. I’ll grin as I watch their uncharacteristic enthusiasm for literacy. My oldest, the perfectionist, will ask for help with spelling. My youngest, the ultra-spirited one, will be content with guessing. I’ll be happy they’re practicing. Let’s think of further ideas for incorporating literacy training this frosty month: This is too cool. If you sign up online


Experience Gifts for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa

“This Christmas,” my parents told me when I was twelve “we are going on a family trip instead of buying presents. Here’s why: Do you remember what we bought you last year? No? Well, you never forget an experience.” They were right. I never forgot that trip; we drove from our home in Raleigh to a cabin-inspired hotel in the North Carolina mountains for the weekend. It was my first time playing in the snow and it was marvelous. And so began a new tradition where we had a small gift to open on Christmas, but the highlight was the forging of a memory. To my parents, thank you for that


Inspired by the Holidays: Take an "Autumn Walk" and Encourage Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to Discover the Sights, the Smells, and the Feel of Fall

I will never forget his question. My transition students and I were on a nature trail walk and it was a particularly rocky section. One teen who was totally blind opted for sighted guide, so I offered him my arm. We all strolled on and chatted; all except this one, typically talkative, teen. "What's on your mind?" I asked. "Ms. Shannon, how many snakes do you see?" he asked with a quivering voice. "What?! None! Why do you ask?" "I know snakes live in the woods. I thought you must see them all over the place." I assured him that snakes prefer to flee from the noise and if I saw one,


Inspired by the Holidays: Enlisting the Help of Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Your Thanksgiving Meal Preparation

Last year Emily Coleman blogged about living skills instruction over the holidays. I know Thanksgiving week can be an intense week of traveling or hosting relatives, and you may feel held captive by the kitchen, but. But what if this week can also be a time for your child who is blind or visually impaired to improve her cooking skills and shine?


Odds and Ends and Homeschool in Braille

The joy of home school is setting your own school time. You also have the flexibility to change the time based on needs and progress. Three to three-and-a-half hours of day in home school translates into a good 5 to 6 hours of public school with arrive times, bells, class change, recess, lunch, and ready to go. That doesn’t even include bus time. The bus picks up the senior next door at 6:45 AM and returns at approximately 3:45. That is one heck of a long day. We use our time doing things like listening to a book and playing outside, getting “GASP” exercise. We also have more time to work on ADLS (activities of daily living skills).


Inspired by the Holidays: Ideas, Tips, and Resources for Families of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

"Silver bells, silver bells, soon it will be…" I know, right?! I'm equally as staggered. Wasn't it just Thanksgiving, 2014? Didn't we just take down the holiday lights? I guess not; my, how the day-to-day intensity of parenting leaves us wondering where a year went. And so we look ahead to the holiday season. One we can intentionally fill with child-wonder, quality time, memorable traditions, and lastly, significant learning opportunities. So here's the plan, my plan at least: You focus on enjoying your children; notice and appreciate the simple, beautiful


Halloween Fun with Pumpkin Spice Playdough

One of the many reasons I am excited it’s Fall is because it’s time to make my favorite recipes! Pumpkin Spice Playdoh smells soo yummy and is a blast of sensory experiences…remember as you are creating it with your child/family, it is the process not the product that’s important. Here are some helpful tips: Have your child experience dry/wet ingredients using descriptive words such as soft flour, warm wet water, gritty salt, slippery for the oil. Smell the pumpkin spice and compare to the smell


Erik Weheinmayer Employment Interview

You might know it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and I was offered the opportunity to share some information with you. I manage the American Foundation for the Blind's CareerConnect program. AFB CareerConnect is a career exploration, job seeking skills, navigating the employment process, and e-mentoring web program. You might guess that I am quite passionate about employment and the transition from school to work. In my work with AFB CareerConnect, I have been able to connect with fabulous and inspiring individuals who are blind or visually impaired. One of the coolest and one of my personal favorites has been Erik Weihenmayer, world-renowned


Parents of Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: The Foundation for Your Child’s Transition Goals This School Year

It feels like yesterday you first laid eyes on your precious one. I know. The days were long, but the years flew. Now it’s high school. High school! That means your child’s adulthood is rapidly approaching, and it’s time to prepare him or her for a satisfying life as a grown-up. If a “satisfying life as a grownup” truly is the goal, the important questions to ask your son and yourself in your quest to support him are: What leisure activities would my child enjoy as an adult? How can my child be active in his community? Where would my child want to live? What job would be a good fit for my child?


Back to School: Educational Priorities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

This year my oldest daughter, Madeline, will begin kindergarten. I’m already feeling the pressure and stress of teaching and pre-teaching all academic skills so that she is successful in the classroom. Maybe this stems from uncomfortable situations like hearing other five-year-olds reading, and knowing my child is definitely not there yet. So I choose to stop and settle down those green-eyed, pride-driven thoughts. I rein them in and tell them to “Go!” My child is my child, and her value is completely independent of the ability to read, solve math


Improving “School Confidence” in Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

For many of us, summer break is already but a memory (cue the sad music). As we look to the start of a new school year, we anticipate our children engaging in meaningful friendships and advancing in their academics and the blindness-specific Expanded Core Curriculum. We know there’s tremendous potential growth right around the corner. But in order for our children to actually advance in the classroom and in their Individualized


Parents of Children and Teens with Visual Impairments: “Your Goals” in Orientation and Mobility for the New School Year

While you can't learn orientation and mobility (travel) skills for your child who is blind or visually impaired, you certainly can support your child’s acquisition of skills. In fact, I want to share a variety of ways you can get involved, encourage, and motivate your child toward mobility success this school year. I call these “your goals,” should you accept them: Before the school year begins, formally introduce your daughter to her new


Back to School Tips for Older Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It is back to school season and thousands of students are returning to elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. Many visually impaired students have to do special preparation to go back to school. As a graduate student I would like to suggest some tips in preparation for school. Preparation is very important for a student’s success in college but the most importantly in my opinion is your attitude about school. You have come this far in deciding or being enrolled in an institution—now with a little motivation and perseverance you will help yourself in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills that will help


How to Ease the Transition from Summer Break to a New School Year for Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Yes, it’s a substantial transition. One that repositions our children from the familiarity and comfort of home or daycare in the summer, to brand new classrooms, a different mix of student-peers, unfamiliar teachers, and more intense studies. But don’t fear, the transition from summer break to school can be done well with a little preparation and strategy, and perhaps a dash of fun! Ideas for easing the summer-to-school transition: Continually talk with your child about when school will begin, what he can expect at school, and his feelings regarding school. Sufficient sleep will be essential to our


Five Summertime Activities That Buy Parents of Preschool Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired a Few Minutes of Free Time

Buying parents a few minutes of rest? Am I a bad mom? No, simply striving for emotional well-being. After all, we parents must prioritize our own emotional health in order to best meet the needs of our children, particularly because our job responsibilities include repeatedly diffusing tantrums and providing around-the-clock care. Not a job for the faint of heart or mind. So how do I buy myself a few minutes of free time without the use of television? Not that I'm completely against TV, it has its purpose, but I prefer guilt-free free time that drives my daughters' learning, creativity,


Traveling with a Child Who Is Visually Impaired: It's All About the Journey

Traveling with children is a challenge at any age. So I have to say this isn’t about traveling with a visually impaired child, but traveling with any child. We have a core group of children who are the current family. So, what the heck is she talking about core family? We have a large family of 14 children. 11 of them are adopted. The most living at home at any one time was 9. As they grew up, we added one or two more through birth and adoption. Our children were of various ethnic backgrounds, the oldest adoption was 12, and had a variety of developmental/emotional needs. Nowhere in here did I say “Special,” because each was special and unique


Summer Blog Party: Hot Fun In the Summertime for Kids who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

We are kicking off the summer season with a roundup of items to help you make the most of activities, events, and just plain old ideas that can be fun. We are excited to be co-hosting a Summer Blog Party with WonderBaby. Bloggers, please join in by writing about your summer plans and sending us the links. We will share all the posts and links with families. From FamilyConnect you can sign up with FamilyConnect to get alerts as cool


Finding Fun Things to Do When You Are Visually Impaired

There are a couple of ways to find out fun things to do when you are visually impaired. Find local organizations or groups that organize events or activities. In my example, I found a running club organization called Achilles International. They organize races and events, and they pair volunteers with people with any disabilities to run or walk. There is probably a local organization that would have fun


In Honor of Father’s Day, A Son’s Thoughts About Parenthood and Blindness

With the Father's Day approaching, it is important to recognize the support and care of parents. I would like to share my experiences when growing up. Equality One of the things that my parents got right was promoting a sense of equality when growing up. Promoting equality for me means treating each child the same way and providing the same opportunities, rights, and responsibilities. I have an older brother but of course, all families are different you might be a single child or have several siblings. My parents always encouraged us to do things the same way even though I am visually impaired.


Harnessing Adversity: A Chat with Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

We're delighted to host a guest post today from Buddy Levy, presenting his interview with Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen. What do a blind outdoor adventurer and an asthmatic six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer have in common? Turns out, the same thing that all of us have in common in some form or other: adversity. Everyone faces adversitywhat matters is how they face it, according to Erik Weihenmayer and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who got together recently for a web-hangout interview ahead of this summer’s No Barriers Summit, to be held in Park City, Utah July 9-12. Van Dyken-Rouen, a celebrated U.S. Olympic swimmer who was paralyzed in 2014 in an ATV accident, is the event's keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies, and Weihenmayer, a


A Sense of Community

My sister invited me to her granddaughter’s (she’s 2) birthday party. I love to go because there are always lots of kids and it is outdoors. She bought a bouncy house and said I could use it for my boys’ birthday parties if I wanted to. Oh, major downer for me. I thanked her and said, “I guess you don’t understand that because my children are special needs, their social circle of age appropriate friends is smaller. We usually have family parties.” Actually, I’m glad she didn’t understand because she always includes our children in family gatherings. I make sure we have the means to deal with the need for a hasty exit if needed. We home school and our twins, age 8 are both special needs. Vinnie is blind. Brandon has hydrocephalus and a seizure


Translating the Visual

Imagine a World Without Color Try to imagine the world without color. What do you think it would look like? Perhaps you envisioned a world of black and white, given depth by varying shades of grey. Maybe you pictured a world out of a crisp new coloring bookall white with solid black outlines giving shape to people, buildings and trees. Now, how do you think a blind child perceives color? And what about a child who has been blind since birth? Is it even possible for a blind person to comprehend color? And, does teaching about color really even matter? Yes, of course! Why Teach a Blind Child about Color? The moment I found out my daughter Madilyn was blind, which was moments after she was born, I immediately thought of all the


Peppermint Stars Ornaments

Hello everyone and welcome back to Maria’s sensory activities! Here is another one of my very favorite activities especially around the holidays! Remember to include your child to the best of their ability. Use descriptive words such as "soft" for the flour, "grainy" for the salt, "slimy" for the oil, "cold" for the water, "minty" for the smell of peppermint. Allow your child to explore the ingredients. Here's what you'll need: 2 cups plain flour 1 cup salt 1 tbs oil 1 cup cold water 2 drops liquid food coloring (red, green) 6 drops of peppermint oil (I bought mine at GNC) or


Pumpkin Activities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired!

We're delighted to have a guest blog post today from Maria Dibernardo. Maria writes, "Hi, my name is Maria. I am the proud mom of my 16-year-old daughter, Jewels, who is totally blind from ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) as she was born at only 23 weeks of gestation. Here are some messy activities that we used to do when she was younger and enjoy sharing them today. Hope you and your family have fun with them, too. Remember they could be adapted to any age group." Carving a Pumpkin Carving a pumpkin is easy and a great sensory activity. Here are the steps: Using two hands, explore the outside of the pumpkin feeling the shape and the


A Visit to the Boston Children’s Museum

Madilyn enjoying "musical chairs" at the museum Being new to the area, first on the list of "Things to Do in Boston" was Boston Children's Museum. To plan an outing there with Madilyn though was a job in itself. But thanks to the wonderful people at BCM, our chances for a successful trip were significantly increased though their monthly "Morningstar Access Program.” Each month, families can sign up to attend the museum for a couple hours during which time the museum only allows 100 guests to explore the expansive three-story building full of interactive exhibits. If


My Daughter's Challenges with Sensory Stimulation

I have no doubt that my daughter Madilyn learns the most from a multi-sensory experience. With it, she gains true comprehension. Madilyn is completely blind, diagnosed with bilateral anophthalmia, and struggles with sensory stimulation. There was a time not so long ago in which taking Madilyn (now 9) on a trip to the museum wasn't even an option. It's not that we never tried, but prior to 2013 most activities that involved an unfamiliar setting with various noises and voices ended in failure. For our family, failure often looked and sounded like an overwhelming, crying fit fueled


Mother's Day Craft and Card Ideas for Blind Children

Mother's Day is just around the cornerit's this coming Sunday, May 11. With that in mind, be sure to check out a new article from Emily: How Dads (and Others) Can Help Blind Children Make Mother's Day Cards That Are Meaningful for Mom Here are some additional ideas: Honoring Mother's Day: Paths to Literacy Sensory Art Ideas from


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