Browse By Topic: Low Vision

New Diagnosis? The Most Common Questions Asked by Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

You’re here because your child has recently been diagnosed with an eye condition. You likely weren’t at all prepared for the emotional impact of the diagnosis, you certainly can’t foresee coping with vision loss, and you don’t understand what to do next. You feel consumed with questions; lost at sea. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=8593" alt="A mother and father holding their small child during an eye examination at the doctor's office; the doctor is looking at the child and holding up three fingers for the baby


How Will We Pay for My Visually Impaired Child’s Assistive Technology?

I had a recent e-mail from a family new to the country who wondered how they would afford their child’s assistive technology (AT) needed for school. Are there organizations who provide technology for free or a reduced cost? What financial assistance is available? I’m confident other families have the same concerns and thought it wise to publish the response as a blog post and ask for seasoned parents to provide additional suggestions in the comments section. Letter to Parents About Your Child's Assistive Technology Needs Dear concerned parent, Will your child attend a public school? If so, the school must conduct an assistive


The School Year Has Begun and Your Child Has No Blindness Services

The school year has begun and your child who is blind or visually impaired is not receiving blindness-specific educational services. What can you do? Most importantly, learn about the process of educating a child who is blind or visually impaired. The first step entails your child receiving federally mandated, blindness-specific assessments, which reveal your child’s strengths and areas necessitating instruction before your child can fully access the core curriculum. The educational team, including yourself, will


TVI Mom: Raising a Child Who Is Visually Impaired As a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments

I had been a teacher of students with visual impairments and orientation and mobility specialist for a few years when my husband and I welcomed our son, Alex into our lives. Things were turned upside down with the typical sleep deprivation and new parenthood stress. At six weeks, I noticed something as I stared into his brown eyes that were moving rapidly side to side,


A Great Book Escape: A Multi-Sensory Adventure for Children with Visual Impairments

What if, this summer, you invite your child with a visual impairment (and any siblings) on an adventure of a lifetime. A type of summer vacation from the norm, one we’ll call a summer escape. This adventure will not require leaving the house and is ideal even when cash and time are strapped. It will, however, require pre-planning, creativity, and most of all, your enthusiasm. This summer adventure is an escape into a book. I dare


Attending Conferences for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

I’d like to initiate a dialogue regarding attending conferences for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired. On behalf of parents who have not attended a conference of the sort, and for my own interest, perhaps former attendees would be willing to answer the following questions: Which conference or conferences did you attend? What were your expectations of the conference? Were your expectations met? What did you gain from the experience? Would you attend again? Whether you have attended a conference presented by the National Association of Parents of


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


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,


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


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.


10 Ways to Keep the Dust off the Video Magnifier (CCTV) This Summer for Children and Teens with Visual Impairments

Students often use video magnifiers or Closed-Circuit Televisions with magnification (CCTV) to complete homework and classwork during the school year. Summer CCTV-use is often a drastically different story! Here’s to transforming the norm and avoiding the summer assistive technology regression! If your child has access to a CCTV at home or the local library, here are a few creative uses for the device: Lego directionsinvite your child to "help you" build a Lego masterpiece. Word searches or Sudoku puzzlesa blistering hot afternoon calls for an indoor puzzle. Look and find books or "I Spy" sheetsif your


Finding a Role Model for Your Child with a Visual Impairment This Summer

Hallelujah, it’s summertime! I can almost hear the waves crashing and the seagulls squawking…and my children asking, "What can we do now, Mom?" My response, "Girls, it’s summertime. Play in the yard!" Love those girls, I do. There are, however, a few struggles when it comes to the loads of free time summer provides us. I know you’d agree when I say these struggles are important for children to wrestle with as constant entertainment isn’t helpful in the long run. It’s why FamilyConnect suggests teaching children how to handle free time and creating


Engaging Activities to Celebrate Helen Keller’s Birthday with Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

When the general population thinks of blindness, they often still think of young Helen Keller learning to communicate with sign language at the water pump. There is, however, much more to Ms. Keller. Helen Keller worked as a political and social activist, fighting for a woman’s right to vote and for equality for all people. She worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for over 40 years as an advocate for the blind in the United States and abroad. Read her biography to learn more! Not only will you learn about her life as a


My Experience As a Summer Transition Specialist with Blind and Visually Impaired Teens

Ten years ago to the day (at the time of writing) I nervously walked into my first career-job. I was hired for the summer to plan and implement a summer program for students ages 14 to 22 with visual impairments. I knew "career preparation" was my number one goal for the group; with this in mind, I met each student, assessed knowledge of career skills, and asked each student and his/her family about personal interests, career interests, and career goals. Several students had dreams of becoming lawyers; one desired to become a football coach; one a teacher; one a therapist; one a radio DJ; one a makeup artist, and the others were uncertain. And so began a hunt to find experiences in these industries as well as in a wide range of additional career fields. We needed to do more


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


Goalball: An Overview from the United States Association of Blind Athletes

Editor's Note: Today's blog post provides an overview of goalball, a competitive sport for blind athletes, as well as information on finding teams for various ages. This information has been generously shared from the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and was originally published on USABA's site. To watch goalball in action, USABA recommends their informational goalball video. What Is Goalball? Goalball is a Paralympic team sport played by athletes who are blind and visually impaired. The sport was introduced as a medal event at the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto. However, it originated in 1946 when Austrian, Hanz Lorrenzen and


In Italy, “I” Stands for Inclusion, Part 2: A Closer Look at Italy’s Approach to Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students of Today

Editor’s Note: In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (Thursday, May 18), we are sharing two stories about the education of children who are blind or visually impaired in Italy. Today’s story dives into Italy’s current approach to educating children with visual impairment. If you missed part one of this series, check out “Gabriele Colantonio Recounts Attending School As a Child with a Visual Impairment.” Closer Look at Italy’s Approach to Educating Visually Impaired Students In


In Italy, “I” Stands for Inclusion, Part 1: Gabriele Colantonio Recounts Attending School As a Child with a Visual Impairment

Editor’s Note: In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (Thursday, May 18), we are sharing two stories about the education of children who are blind or visually impaired in Italy. Today’s story is from Gabriele Colantonio about his experience with different school systems across several regions of Italy. Tune in tomorrow for part two, “A Closer Look at Italy’s Approach to Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students of Today.” Gabriele Colantonio Recounts Attending School As a Child with a Visual Impairment Since 1977, the Italian Ministry


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;


Resources on Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) in Children

Parents and family members of children with cortical visual impairment, or a brain-based visual processing disorder, you are far from alone. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, cortical visual impairment (CVI) is the most common cause of permanent vision loss in children. Yet as common as CVI is, its educational implications are often grossly misunderstood. Advocating for Appropriate Services Your story may be like that of Bernadette Jackel who wrote


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


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


Braille Tales: Free Book Program for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's note: Today's blog post is about the American Printing House for the Blind's "Braille Tales Book Program" for children who are blind or visually impaired. This free program offers participating families six free print/braille books per year up to the child's sixth birthday. Visually impaired mother, Holly Bonner, shares her story of using "Braille Tales" with her two daughters. This blog was originally posted on Holly's website, Blind Motherhood. American Printing House for the Blind's Free Braille Tales By Holly Bonner With multiple studies indicating the tremendous benefits early reading has on


FamilyConnect’s Latest Article Series: Delayed Communication Development in Blind and Visually Impaired Children

This past week I enthusiastically attended American Foundation for the Blind’s leadership conference just outside of Washington, DC. Since returning home to Delaware, I have been reflecting on which message or session was the most personally impactful of the event; I choose the words of Linda Hagood, Speech Language Pathologist of Washington State School for the Blind. Ms. Hagood spoke on teaching students who are blind or visually impaired and autistic or are otherwise communicatively delayed. She began by addressing typical approaches to educational programming: symbol systems,


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


100th Day of School; Now to Make the Last 80 Count! (For Children with Vision Loss)

Elementary shirts are decorated with 100 gemstones, pompoms, or googly eyes; kinder snack bags are filled with ten groups of ten snacks; the more fearless in the classroom are decked out as to look 100 years old; and you know it, our kiddos are “100 Days Smarter” (say poster boards in classrooms across America). I love that most elementary schools celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s a fun reason to get hands-on with a variety of 100 manipulatives, and it’s a reminder to students, parents, and teachers that we’ve more than crossed the half-way threshold of the school year. We’ve summited the mountain; we’re headed down. Yet, every


An Introduction to Your Child’s Specific Eye Condition

You are told your child may have a visual impairment; your world halts. You are left with questions and an emotional roller-coaster. You want to know: A description of the possible eye condition How it is diagnosed If there are treatments How it affects one’s eyesight How one functions with this eye condition Resources for families Where to Turn If this describes you, it’s time to visit AFB FamilyConnect to


Should My Child with Low Vision Be Receiving Vision-Related Services?

It’s the middle of the school year and your child with low vision (who supposedly doesn’t need a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments) is academically struggling. While your child could be any age, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a grade schooler and you’re seeing the result of standard print size in text books decreasing from approximately 22-point font to <strong


Why Your Teen Needs Career Mentors Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As you and your teen are likely well aware, blindness is a low incidence disability. Unfortunately, your teen may not know another individual with a visual impairment; alternatively, he may know only a handful of same-age peers with visual impairments from a summer transition program or a large number of young people with visual impairments if he attends a school for the blind. But, does your child know adults with visual impairments? Does he know their


Seeing Our Child Who Is Blind

Lately, I’ve been watching Eddie with intense interest. Paying attention to the many ways he communicates, verbal and non-verbal. Admiring how he has begun problem-solving to get what he wants. Noticing how his whole body reacts when he’s upset, frustrated, or lacking words. I think to myself, “I see you.” We recently took our annual trip across the state to see some of Eddie’s medical specialists. These are doctors he’s had relationships with for most of his life. These people “see” him too. They know how to communicate with him and how to calm his anxiety. When performing any kind of


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


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


Celebrating and Creating New Family Traditions Around the Holidays

Families all around the world celebrate the holidays differently depending on their culture and religion, but no matter how they celebrate, most families develop special holiday traditions. When I was growing up, my family had traditions every year that were passed down from generation to generation. We would put up special handmade decorations, such as ornaments and wreaths, and make special desserts and holiday meals. When I started my own family, I enjoyed creating new family traditions that we could pass down to our new generations to come! When you have a child who is blind or visually impaired in your family, this life experience can give you


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


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


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


Possibilities Are Endless

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. Imagine being told by your doctor when your child is born that there is no chance of your baby making it, that he is going into renal failure, and needs not one but two heart surgeries followed by more than 25 surgeries over the next 11 years. Imagine after nine months in the hospital bringing


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,


Questions and Answers Regarding Your Child's Low Vision

February is Low Vision Awareness Month, and so we round out this month with questions and answers you may have regarding your child's low vision. Our hope is that you understand what low vision is, how your child will access her environment with minimal vision, and the accommodations she may utilize in school and beyond. Read the following questions and click on the links if you'd like to learn more on the topics. What exactly is low vision?


Keeping Children in Sight: A Free TeleSupport Group for Parents of Children Diagnosed with Glaucoma

Hello! I'm Catherine Duffek. I am now in my early 70s and I grew up with congenital glaucoma. I lead an active productive life and happily I still have my vision! To keep this vision my parents taught me their recipe for monitoring my glaucoma. It's simple never become complacent about the signs and symptoms of elevated intraocular pressure. It's now January when we observe "Glaucoma Awareness Month." I thought this might be a good time to


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


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

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with a family friend, a rabbi. I asked him to explain the holiday of Hanukkah along with its traditions and celebrations. He explained that the holiday of Hanukkah commemorates a time (2,180 years ago) when G-d empowered the ancient Israelites to defeat the powerful Syrian-Greek army. The army, under the leadership of Antiochus Epiphanes, sought to conquer Israel and cruelly deny the Jews their right to worship G-d or practice their faith. Although vastly outnumbered and short of weapons, the brave Israelites miraculously defeated the Syrian-Greek army over a three-year


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: Encouraging Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired to Get Curious About Careers

I guess you could say I’m as inspired by the holidays as I am by Emily Coleman’s blog series: "A Holiday Approach to the Expanded Core Curriculum". Take, for instance, Emily’s advice to have your child ask family members about their careers in the blog post, “Career Education for the Holidays”. This is where I want to focus. You probably have a


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?


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


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


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


Celebrating Low Vision Awareness Month

Low vision devices help this student keep up with classwork. February is Low Vision Awareness Month and we would like to take advantage of that to highlight some of the information we have on the FamilyConnect site that explains just what low vision means. The term low vision has come to describe individuals who have some useful vision that can assist in seeing things like large print and pictures. The scope of who would be considered "low vision" is very broad and can mean many things to different people. It may


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