Browse By Topic: Independence

Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for Your Son or Daughter with a Visual Impairment

This time each year we celebrate the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each yearis that really necessary? YES! The ADA is the United States of America’s first comprehensive civil rights law protecting people with disabilities from discrimination. I know you’d agreethat can’t be over-celebrated! Provisions of the ADA And just what


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,


Empowered by Sports: The United States Association of Blind Athletes Offers Life-Changing Recreational Opportunities

Editor’s Note: FamilyConnect aims to help parents recognize the importance of recreational activities for children and teens with visual impairments as well as identify agencies and associations who provide recreational instruction and opportunities for blind and visually impaired children and adults. Families, meet the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)! Empowered by Sports By Courtney Patterson of the United States Association of Blind Athletes Approximately 70 percent of American youth who are blind or visually impaired do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum due to barriers in education and


Our [Very Positive] Experience with Evaluations at Perkins School for the Blind

Planning the Evaluation Last I wrote, we had obtained funding for our son, Vincent, to go to Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts for an evaluation. It takes a long time to get a date; I got all my paperwork and assessments together to send them in September. It took seven months to get a date in March. To be fair, they gave us a date in February. However, we had tons of snow, and they graciously extended the date to the end of March. It continued to snow here in Maine through April. The trip to Perkins School took a lot of work on our part to put together. We have three children and two foster children. We were able to put one of our foster children


Volunteering—A Beneficial Endeavor for Children and Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It’s summertime, which seems like the ideal time to focus on the benefit of children who are blind or visually impaired volunteering in their communities. While volunteering is a work-like experience certainly beneficial to all children and teens, it is particularly profitable for children and teens who are blind or visually impaired. Sighted young people can observe many work concepts as they simply navigate public spaces and workplaces. Children and teens with visual impairments may well


Making Sports Accessible for Children and Teens Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If I say, accommodations and modifications for children and teens who are blind or visually impaired, your first thought is likely children accessing education. You’d be right, but that’s not where the necessity for accommodations concludes! We, parents and teachers, are often quite focused on our children grasping the academic curriculum and reaping the full benefit of school. Understandable. Importance of Sports Let us not, however, neglect the importance of children who are blind or visually impaired accessing


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


Assisting Your Blind or Visually Impaired Teen in Obtaining a Summer Job, Part Two: The Job Search

We previously discussed how early work experiences give 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. This begged the question: how can we assist our teens in preparing for and


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


Money Management Education for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

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;


Prom Makeup Application for Your Blind or Visually Impaired Daughter

I’ll never forget the excitement of sitting at the Clinique makeup counter the morning of my first formal school dancenot 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


Structure a Meaningful “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” for a Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

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


Totally Blind Project Manager at NASA Talks Mentors for Those with Visual Impairments [A Must Read for Parents]

This morning (March 2nd, 2017) marked the beginning of the American Foundation for the Blind’s Leadership Conference in Crystal City, VA. Here I sit on your behalf. My goal is to gather relevant information and resources for parents and family members of children and teens who are blind and visually impaired. My hopes are high, as I’ve only attended the first general session and my fingers have feverishly typed three pages of priceless counsel from blind and visually impaired adults who have significantly advanced in their careers. One of the panelists from this session included Denna Lambert, Project Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, who shared she was born totally blind due to


Giving Blind and Visually Impaired High Schoolers a Head Start on the College Experience

Editor's Note: Today's blog post is from guest blogger, Tovah Miller, from Perkins School for the Blind. This blog was originally posted on the Learning Ally blog. Giving Blind and Visually Impaired High Schoolers a Head Start on the College Experience By Tovah Miller There’s no place more energizing than a college campus. However, many colleges fall short when it comes to accessibility for students with visual impairment. That’s why college can be challengingphysically, socially, and academicallyfor these young adults. In fact, according to the


Summer Camp: An Experiment in Independence for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

Learned Helplessness Allow me to be frank. I think the most significant disadvantage, or true handicap, for many with visual impairments is learned helplessness. Ms. Susan Harper describes learned helplessness perfectly in the article, I'm Learning, Too!. Learned helplessness is the result of not having to practice skills in self-care, problem-solving,


Summer Camps for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Enrollment Time!

Editor's Note: Today's blog post is from VisionAware peer advisor, Audrey Demmitt. Audrey is a wife, mother of three adult children, and a registered nurse living with retinitis pigmentosa. As an outdoor enthusiast and a counselor at SEE Adventure Camp, Audrey is pleased to share two great summer camps for your child who is blind or visually impaired. Summer Camps for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Enrollment Time! By Audrey Demmitt Attending summer camp is sort of a “rite of passage” for many


Braille Instruction, Too Often Neglected in Children with Low Vision

We recently discussed the importance of braille on AFB FamilyConnect. Many parents of older children and teens with vision loss, as well as many adults with vision loss, spoke out in agreement that braille is of utmost importance when print-reading is a struggle. So, with this information, why is braille instruction often neglected in children with low vision? Too often the


Happy Valentine's Day: Activities for Your Child or Teen Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

"Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things." Helen Keller Every day, you are cultivating the love you have for your child who is blind or visually impaired. You spend the necessary time and effort to ensure they are receiving proper care; you advocate on their behalf so they can have access to the services they need to succeed in school and life, and you


Preparing Your Blind Teen for a Valentine’s Date (Insert Nail-Biting!)

Fellow parents, let’s take a minute to address our big emotions. We’re grieving the closure of childhood; excited that there may be an upcoming date; worried that they won’t behave maturely; stressed that they won’t respect all of our boundaries; concerned that hearts will be broken; anxious about their safety; not to mention we’re unsure if we’ve taught our teens all of the nuances of dating. Deep breath. Let’s face this head-on. Preparing Your Teen for Dating First, if your teen is interested in dating, that’s exciting! That’s normal, as is your teen not yet wanting to date. Whether your teen was just asked on a


My Child with Multiple Disabilities Shares His Ability at Church

As parents of children with special needs, we often feel the need to miss out on daily outside activities, and over time, we may feel that church-going is not a priority. Some families feel like they're not welcomed at church or that there aren't enough (or any activities) for their child. We have felt the same way over the years. No, that didn't stop us from going, but it does make you wonder, "how are they accommodating for our son?" When we started looking for a new home church, we found what we were looking for at First Baptist Church in Waxahachie. Everyone there has always been welcoming, thoughtful, and willing to pray for our son from the time he was born. We have made new friends and our son JD, who was born deaf-blind with


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


A Thankful Mom: Nancy's Story of Raising Her Son Who Is Visually Impaired

I recently had coffee with the mom of one of my former students (Jake). You may remember reading about Jake in July when AFB celebrated his graduation from high school and acceptance into college. I know firsthand Jake's success was in large part due to his unique character as a person, but his attributes of determination and optimism are traits his parents modeled for and instilled in him. Having worked with Jake's parents for many years, I thought I knew what their life was like as parents of a child who is visually impaired.


What You Need to Know About the Expanded Core Curriculum for Children Who Are Blind

Hi, familiesteacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) here. As a TVI, my primary role is teaching students who are blind or visually impaired the subjects and skills of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). This is the main role of TVIs in all educational settings, including residential schools for the blind, resource rooms, or itinerant


The Importance of Braille: World Braille Day 2017

There's just something about braille, isn’t there? By "something" I’m actually not referring to how downright adorable it is to watch a toothless babe patting the pages of a braille book, or how we’re beaming with pride when a six-year-old (whose grin exposes she’s also rather toothless) reads a simple sentence of her braille work. I’m, instead, referring to the tremendous asset braille provides an adult who is blind or visually impaired. Braille is, after all, the code that changed the course of history for our children (our


Teaching Our Children with Visual Impairments to Set Goals this New Year

I’m not one to establish an annual “New Year’s resolution”. I realize if I don’t have the motivation to challenge myself or change a habit during the year, I unfortunately won’t mystically attain it come January 1. I don’t like setting myself up for failure! When it comes to setting goals, I’m less motivated by the first of the year and more motivated by both internal rewards (we call this intrinsic motivation) and natural consequences. Internal rewards: It feels satisfying to have a clean bedroom, so I put items and clothes where they belong. Natural consequences: If I eat too much chocolate, I feel sick.


Give the Gift of Equality

Birthday and Christmas always have people wondering what to buy for our son who is blind. Not only does his diagnosis of blindness throw them off, but also his unique characteristics associated with autism. My request this holiday season is that everybody simply give him the gift of equality. Recently, while attending an event for children who are blind, Eddie received this gift. He was asked to play goalball, a sport specific to blindness, and he was asked to play like everybody else. The organizers didn’t look at him and think, “Will he be able to play?” “Will he want to get down on the floor?” “Will he be motivated to engage with his peers?” They didn’t


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

Last year we discussed including your child who is blind or visually impaired in Hanukkah traditions; I learned much as I asked my friend, a rabbi, to explain the holiday traditions to me. Together, the rabbi and I discussed how to make each tradition meaningful and accessible to a child with a visual impairment. Today we turn our attention to Christmas. We will take a look at the holiday and again discuss how we can make the traditions meaningful and accessible. While Hanukkah has a straightforward origin,


Preparing Our Children for the Holidays

When we think about the major holidays that occur this time of year, we often focus on the big day itself. We picture opening presents, plan who's coming to visit, and consider our religious events or beliefs. So, when we prepare our children who are blind for the holidays, we can get stuck on "just" the day and not the planning that begins much sooner. For example, when we were preparing our son Eddie for Thanksgiving this year, we only started the day before. As we thought about family arriving and the next day's events, we knew we had to discuss it with him. However, we didn't involve him in the pre-holiday tasks, so it seemed


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


Defining Our Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As I’ve shared before, we were given a grim perspective of Eddie’s future when he received the diagnosis of optic nerve hypoplasia. We were abruptly told he was blind, severely handicapped, and then being asked, Do you know what that means? As a young mother in a small doctor’s office, the answer was obviously No. I didn’t know what that meant for him as a baby, or what it would mean for his future. When he entered preschool, while trying to navigate the special education system, I struggled with what his blindness meant. Did it mean he would be in school with the neighborhood kids, or would he be somewhere else? Did it mean that we should just see


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


Using the Expanded Core Curriculum in the School Setting

Editor's note: Today's blog post is from Amanda Bowdoin, M.Ed., a certified teacher of the visually impaired in Texas. She earned her master's degree in visual impairment from Stephen F. Austin State University. Amanda is also a mother of twins, JD and Oliva, who are 11 years old. Her son JD has CHARGE Syndrome and is deaf-blind. Using the Expanded Core Curriculum As a Safety Patrol By Amanda Bowdoin For my son, JD Bowdoin, a fifth grade young boy, it doesn’t matter what level of education he has or doesn’t have. It doesn’t matter what his mode of communication may be. All that matters to JD is


"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,


National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Why It Matters for Our Children

#InclusionWorks. It’s the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2016 and it couldn’t be more true. Whether your child or teen is solely blind or visually impaired, or your child has blindness and additional disabilities, as AFB President and CEO Kirk Adams said, For most of us, work is a big part of how we define ourselves and measure our value. For many people with disabilities, it’s also the key to independence. Yes, your child will value work. Aspects of work your child may appreciate include executing a routine, socializing, goal-setting and


Ready, Set, Go!

Three or four years ago I was helping teach a summer camp for children who are blind. My son was the right age for the camp, but developmentally he wasn’t ready. The kids were learning how to take a bus, prepare meals, and even ride tandem bikes. While I was captaining one of these bikes, I felt sad because I didn’t think Eddie would be able to ride a bike like this…even though he’d love it. We had a handicap bike stroller he really enjoyed over the years. We received the stroller when he was four, and now that he was eleven, I wasn’t so sure about the weight limit. It may be able to hold him, but my legs certainly weren’t


Advice for September from a College Freshman

It is the start of September which means two things: 1) summer is almost over, and 2) it's officially back-to-school season. It's the time of year when millions of students across the nation are returning to elementary, middle, and high schools. It's also the perfect time of the year for me to introduce you to a former student of mine, Michelle. Michelle graduated from high school in June and is now attending a local community college as a freshman. She knows firsthand what the journey from


A Celebration of 26 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a Call to Action

Twenty-six years ago President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is one of civil protection to Americans with health issues, military combat injuries, and disabilities alike. ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for said persons in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, telecommunication, commercial facilities, and transportation. Now your child should not encounter barriers to enjoying community playgrounds,


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


Graduated and College Bound!

I recently had the honor of recognizing one of my former Kindergarten students, Michael "Jake" Beausir for a scholarship award at his high school graduation awards ceremony. When I announced his name to the audience, the crowd rose to their feet and roared with applauses, whistles and shouts of "whoop whoop"! As Jake accepted his award, I was humbled by the lingering well-deserved congratulations from his high school family, his dad, mom and big sister. Jake's peers were in awe of him as they know his story of perseverance and value the attributes of his intrinsic character which include fortitude, courage and leadership. Simply put, his graduating class members


Teaching Financial Literacy to Our Children with Visual Impairments

We know teaching our children to earn and wisely manage money is important, but how do you teach financial literacy to children with visual impairments? Here’s how: Openly discuss finances with your child. Allow your child to practice earning and managing a small allowance. Involve your child in your family’s saving and spending opportunities. Work with your child’s TVI to address accommodations related to vision loss. To assist you on your journey, utilize the


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: 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).


Life Prep or Career Planning for Teens

Parents often ask me what they can do to prepare their children with visual impairments for life and employment. I always encourage them to enroll their children in career education and job preparation courses. As we approach the end of October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I am pleased to share with visitors to the FamilyConnect site great news about a new program that Perkins School for the Blind will launch in January 2016: the Perkins Pre-Employment Program (PEP). The PEP will be offered at Perkins’ Watertown, Massachusetts, campus every other Saturday through May. And, yes, there are snow days built in to the schedule – just in case!


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


Oodles of Resources for Equipping Your Teenager Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired for Successful Employment

Because sometimes you just want to say words like “oodles” to lighten the mood. And the rest of the time you aim to finish laundry, serve a tasty- enough meal, and supply your teenager with information and resources to succeed as a future employee who is blind or visually impaired. While FamilyConnect can’t help you wash and fold, and can’t whip up and serve foodstuff, we will gladly hand you a list of 5 employment resources for you to work through alongside your adolescent. Open the links below and explore with your teen. It will be time and energy well spent; I promise. Encourage your teenager to investigate AFB CareerConnect's


Free Teen Tele-Support Group for High School Seniors

Editor's note: Lighthouse Guild and NAPVI have a number of teleconference programs and we will be posting information for them on this blog. I am excited to announce that the Lighthouse Guild will be offering a free, teleconference support group for blind and visually impaired, college bound high school seniors starting this Fall for the school year. This is the fourth year that we are offering this group. Participants call in for a 60- to 90-minute phone group each week, using a toll-free number. It is a great way to meet other students also dealing with the challenges, trials, and tribulations of preparing to leave home for college, as a visually


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


Seeking Family Members for a Focus Group Study on Unified English Braille eLearning Platform

Editor's note: This is the second blog entry that both informs and requests the assistance of families in answering important questions that impact all who use braille. Please help Holly Lawson and Kathryn Botsford with this effort. Unified English Braille (UEB) is almost here... Braille is getting a makeover. In January 2016, students, adult consumers, their teachers, and their families will be starting to learn changes to the braille code with the United State’s adoption of the Unified English Braille (UEB) code. UEB Prep At Portland State University (PSU) we realize that not everyone learns best


Why Being a Blind Mother Is Awesome

Editor's Note: We welcome Courtney Tabor-Abbott as a new contributor to FamilyConnect. Courtney works for the Perkins School for the Blind, is a parent of two sighted children, and is willing to share her perspective and tricks of the trade as a mother who is blind. I am a parent of two young children. James is 2 ½; Samuel is 7 months. Life with a toddler and an infant is crazy. My house can go from clean to total disarray in a matter of minutes. Between baby spit up and toddler potty training and infant diaper changes, there are more bodily fluids than any one human being should ever have to deal with. And frankly, the period from


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


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


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,


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


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


Register Now for the International Family Conference!

We are organizing a phenomenal conference program for you and your family. The conference welcomes parents of children of all ages with visual impairments, blindness, and additional disabilities including siblings and extended family and friends. Early registration is now open! The conference location is at The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, close to the conference hotel. The


Braille for Children's Clothing

I wanted you to know about a parent who has created a solution for helping her child be independent while dressing. Gracie Benedith has created these items and sent me the pictures and descriptions. As a mother of a legally blind child, I saw the struggles that my son had to deal with getting dressed every single morning. My husband and I had to get up earlier to assist him with his clothes while trying to teach him how to get dressed independently. I suddenly had an epiphany to start a clothing line for blind and visually impaired people called Braille Code! Why not have a clothing line that they can call their own? I designed this line with style that would


Louis Braille's Gift of Furthering Independence for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired

I am no stranger to the theme of independence. My husband is a member of the United States Air Force. We live on an American military base in Japan. I can't leave my house without being reminded of the independence I have been gifted, for I live alongside those who protect it and sacrifice for it. Oh, how thankful I am! And there's the independence my husband and I daily (okay, hourly!) instill in our preschool children. For example, I often see a dreadfully messy room, and while it would be ten times less of an ordeal if I quickly reorganized it, I choose to call out, "Sweethearts!" (I say


Pathways to Independence for Teens Who Are Visually Impaired

As a celebration of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we have launched a series of articles written for parents about issues in employment and career awareness. In the Transition to Independence section for each age group on the FamilyConnect site, the new articles explain how families can and do contribute to the work to prepare children for employment as adults. As a final salute to NDEAM, we bring you the selections for teens who are blind or have low vision. In


Celebrate Independence Day!

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a new article written by Anne McComiskey that talks about the path to independence for kids who are visually impaired. I know you and your family will find lots of fun ways to spend the day but I thought this would be a memorable day for the topic. Of course, part of becoming independent is learning how to interact with others, and so we are bundling Anne's poem entitled Manners to round out the day. We hope you enjoy the day in whatever fashionbe it with picnics, family gatherings, or a more peaceful day spent at home. However your day goes, I hope you enjoy some


Encourage Your Child’s Independence: Incorporate Orientation and Mobility Skills into Summertime Fun!

Summer is in full swing and soon we'll be celebrating the 4th of July! Most students are finished with school and everyone is busy with projects and summertime fun. This is a great time for children of all ages to practice the orientation and mobility skills and concepts they've learned, but in a fun way. I have written activities that can be done at any time during the year but summer can provide lots of opportunities for these activities. There are appropriate


Parents and Family Members are Teachers, Too! Resources From AFB CareerConnect

The fact is, whether your child is being homeschooled or is in public or private education, parents and family members are teachers, too. Teachers in the schools only have so many hours with your child, and the rest of the time they are typically with family. In either case, I have some easy ready-made lessons for you. I am the American Foundation for the Blind's CareerConnect Program Manager. I spend my days working on curriculum, projects, and initiatives specific to the employment of persons who are blind or visually impaired. Of course, I have a strong passion for the transition from school to work. CareerConnect launched a new section about six


Moving into College: Friendship and the Transition to Independence

Editor's note: "Back to school" for many students actually means heading off to college, with all the emotional challenges and changes that go along with that transition. AFB intern Michelle Hackman gives us a peek into her experience of college life and how new friendships played a key role in achieving greater independence. For those who are close to the transition into college, I urge you to check out the Recommended Resources at the end of Michelle's post. - Scott Truax As I write this, I am tucked comfortably into an aged wooden chair, at a window desk overlooking one of the university quads. It is my third time moving into one


Happy Independence Day from FamilyConnect!

FamilyConnect wishes you and your family a happy Fourth of July! On FamilyConnect you'll find a wealth of great information to help you guide your visually impaired child to increased personal independence, at home and at school. We have tips for every age. Here are just a handful! 9 Great Articles on Increasing Your Child's Independence For infants and toddlers who are blind or visually impaired, learn about Hand Under Hand and Hand Over Hand Techniques for showing


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