Browse By Topic: Getting Around

Inclusion in Life: Ted Talk Speaker Kristin Smedley Shares About Her Children with Visual Impairments

In the opening of her Ted Talk this past May, Kristin Smedley shared a very honest story about one of many very hard days as the mother of a blind toddler. Michael was three years old, bouncy and delightful. She was paralyzed daily by the fear, anger, and grief that his CRB1 diagnosis caused her. One day, in particular, she couldn’t make it out of bed. Why was this happening? Why would this happen to her child? In that moment, she could hear her son make his way down the hall to her room. Mommy, are you in here? Yeah, buddy, I’m right here in front of you on the bed. Mom, I just had to come down here and tell you, isn’t this just the best day ever? The sun is shining, and


Adult with a Visual Impairment Describes Learning to Use the White Cane While Using a Motorized Wheelchair As a Teen

Editor’s Note: Ms. Kim Shepherd shares her experience learning Orientation and Mobility while using her motorized wheelchair in hopes that children and teens with multiple disabilities pursue O&M training. Thank you, Kim! To the FamilyConnect family, I received Orientation and Mobility training in 1977, at age 15, while attending Chico Junior High School in Chico, California, thanks to the brilliance and compassion of Mr. Jerry Early,


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


Assisting Your Blind or Visually Impaired Teen in Obtaining a Summer Job, Part One: Preparation

It’s early work experiences that give our teens with visual impairments realistic perspectives of work, shape their positive work habits and work-related skills, and reveal personal strengths as well as shortcomings which can be worked on or worked around. These competencies and aspects of self-awareness become tools in their employment toolboxes, preparing them for the next rung on the career ladder. So, how can we assist our teens in preparing for and obtaining that very first summer


Winter Weather Orientation and Mobility (Oh My!) for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

Now I don’t know where you live, but I am freezing here in Delaware and most certainly have winter weather on the brain! This morning, in fact, my kiddos and I definitely should have worn hats and gloves to the bus stop, but gloves in particular seem to be ever-missing in this home. One trip to the Target dollar section later, and I am well stocked on woodland animal beanies and cotton gloves. Tomorrow morning we’ll be prepared. Bring it on, winter! Well, actually…go easy. Please, I’m begging you, go easy. In thinking about preparing for winter, it occurred to me that we should discuss cold weather preparations and skills


Holiday Travel Tips for Families with Visually Impaired Children and Teens

Heading anywhere for the holidays? This year we’re opting to stay home and soak up two weeks of minimal commitments and maximum relaxation. I cannot wait to regroup and unwind. If you, on the other hand, are opting to visit family, sightsee, or vacation, you brave soul, and you aim to experience respite on your adventure…not to mention make the most (educationally) of your experience…read on. I’ve compiled a list of travel suggestions published on AFB and WonderBaby in years past. The only suggestions missing are yours! So, gather a few for yourself, and leave a few for others in the comment


Orientation and Mobility Resources for Your Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Orientation and Mobility—it’s a hot topic for parents of teens with visual impairments. And you know what, I’m glad it is! It’s a matter on which we must intentionally focus; it’s a matter where we must raise our expectations; and it’s an area for which we must advocate! I can almost hear your thoughts— that’s a lot of work! Yes, it is a lot of work. We parents are bone-tired and often we’re striving for surviving. I am so right there with you. That’s why I’m coming along beside you as your encourager and urging you to fight the good fight, however tired we feel. [Okay, sometimes, just take the day off. Offer


Early Orientation and Mobility Concepts for Young Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Like a child learns to read and write only after extensive understanding of the building blocks that are letters and sounds, a child will eventually learn to safely and confidently navigate the environment only after extensive understanding of the building blocks of Orientation and Mobility (O&M). As a sighted parent of a child who is blind or visually impaired, you may initially believe you can’t teach the basic elements of O&M because you have little to no knowledge in the use of mobility tools and concepts. Not true! Sure, you will want the


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


Transitions, Not So Easy!

Well, it is fall again, my favorite time of year. It's harvest, the weather is good, and finally the temperatures are where I like them. With fall season, begins the school year, another transition. And like fall, not always predictable. Change is inevitable, but not always easy and sometimes decisions have to be made. Evaluation from Perkins School for the Blind I’ve always wanted an evaluation for Vinnie at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. Perkins is 250 miles from our home and three states


"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


In Honor of White Cane Day 2016: What to Do When Your Child Refuses the Cane!

As the parent, family member, friend, or teacher of a child with a visual impairment, I’ll bet you feel enthusiastic over White Cane Day which we celebrate every October 15th. There’s something special about the cane, that’s for sure. We are proud of the youngster who has a visual impairment. We are excited about the white cane and the independence it represents. We are thankful for the protection the white cane offers. Yes,


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


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,


Practical, Research-Based Tips for Preparing Your Teen who is Blind or Visually Impaired for Gainful Employment

As you prepare your visually impaired teenager for independence, remember to stay focused on the big picture by helping your teen discover what it will to take to prepare her for a satisfying adult life. This will almost surely mean your child will need to pursue training in independent living skills, Orientation and


White Cane Day: Post Your Picture!

Editor's Note: We welcome this post and project from Wonderbaby which is one of our favorite sites. Please participate as we would all love to see pictures of your darling child with their cane! We all have favorite holidays. I've always loved Easter with its spring crafts and Easter egg hunts, but of course nothing can really compare to Christmas! My son, Ivan, on the other hand, has the most fun on Halloween when he gets to dress up and visit all our neighbors to ask for candy. But ever since Ivan was diagnosed blind over 10 years ago, there's a new holiday that warms my


From Intolerable to Indispensable: Learning to Love my White Cane

I have not always loved my white cane. I’m twenty eight now and don’t like to be out of the house without my cane, even if I’m not using it. It gives me a sense of security and independence that I really don’t like to be without. But it was not always that way. Not at all. When I was a little girl, I hated my cane. It was “useless!” “Stupid!” “So annoying!” It was, in my young eyes, the symbol of everything that made me different. My teachers tried to get me to like it. They used every tactic they could think of. They tried forcing me to use it. They tried introducing me to other people who were cane users. They tried suggesting I


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, I Present You with “Your Roles” in Readying Your Child who is Blind or Visually Impaired for Future Employment

You know preparation for adult roles begins early. For this reason AFB FamilyConnect provides a “Transition to Independence” section within each age-specific category: Babies and Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade


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


Back to School Tips for Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Can it be true? Is it really time for back to school? It seems like the summer just started and here we are at the start of another school year. I hope you all were able to use some of the tips on the summertime activity posts we did on our summertime blog party with the website WonderBaby and all the bloggers who shared their posts. We hope to have more parties in the future as a way to share resources and ideas on important topics. In the next several weeks we will post blog entries on


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


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


My Suggestions for College Success

We are pleased to introduce you to Irwin Ramirez who will be blogging for us this summer. Irwin is completing his Master’s Degree in computer science and is working as an intern for the American Foundation for the Blind’s web department. He will be sharing his experiences and perspective as a young adult who is blind. His areas of interest are accessibility consulting, web design and assistive technology training. He was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States when he is 17. I urge you to follow his blog, ask him questions and post comments. I would like to share my college experience as a visually impaired student. There


Have You Ever Been to an Easter Egg Hunt for Children Who Are Blind?

Have you been to an Easter Egg hunt for children who are blind or visually impaired? Have you thought about starting one? These events are a wonderful time for the entire family and are also a good place to practice those mobility skills. Here is information for a recent beeping egg event held in Florida, and a search on Google finds many more spread across the country. If you would like to learn how to set up an event in your community


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