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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


Back to School Resource Bash for Children with Visual Impairments

Whether you’re sending your young child to school for the very first time or sending your high schooler back to the land of academia for the umpteenth time, it’s an exciting, quite nerve-wracking day. While I was referencing the emotions of your child or young adult, I know you feel the tension, anticipation, and perhaps even appreciation as well. Know that whatever you’re feeling, from distress to delight, you’re not alone. If you want to vent to other parents of children with visual impairments, head 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,


AFB FamilyConnect Message Boards: Why and How to Use Them

You already know, blindness and visual impairments are low incidence disabilities. Most likely, you, parents and family members of babies, children, and teens with vision loss, are undertaking the parenting journey alongside few other (or no other) parents of children with vision loss. As such, I want to make you aware of one avenue to support and connect with each other: AFB FamilyConnect’s Message Boards. Why They’re Useful You have questions. Perhaps some include:


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


A Survival Guide for the Holidays When You Have a Child Who Prefers Calm

A math equation we parents of sensitive children know well: A sensitive child + A new environment + A Loud crowd of voices + A Late-night party + A possible itchy Christmas dress or slacks = A recipe for many (not at all merry) meltdowns. I saw it today; bless his heart. The boy in the back of my child’s school “frenzy” (it’s an assembly, but “frenzy” is certainly more accurate) preferred calm, while the majority of children sung holiday songs and screamed with delight. He held his hands over his ears and rocked, wanting a little more peace and a little less party. If you 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?


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


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


October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and we plan to give you information throughout the month on employment issues. The path to employment begins at home as well as in school and that destination may now seem far away. The promotion of skills and independence are criticalfactors in this process and begin at an early age. Last year we brought you the series of articles in the Transition to Independence section of each age range including; We start with Babies and


Parents Can Now Learn ABCs of UEB

Editor's note; we bring you more resources for the topic of the transition into UEB. By Sheryl Bass, The Hadley School for the Blind An exciting new introductory braille instructional course has just become available through the Family Education Program at The Hadley School for the Blind entitled Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition. The Hadley School for the Blind is the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind and visually impaired worldwide. Beginning in 2016, new braille materials will be produced in Unified English Braille (UEB) throughout the United States. This course provides the tools for those interested in


Unified English Braille (UEB) Is Almost Here...

Editor's Note: Braille is important to everyone who is blind as it provides tactile access to the written word. Holly and Kathryn want you to be aware of the upcoming changes to the braille code, and also assist them by participating in a discussion of families learning braille through online courses. You may have heard that the braille code, the tactile system used by people with visual impairments to access print, is getting a makeover. In January 2016, blind adults, students, their teachers, and their families will be starting to learn changes to the braille code with which


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


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


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


Finding the Funds to Attend the NAPVI Family Conference

Dear NAPVI Friends and Fellow Parents, When my son was 10 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare infant eye cancer, retinoblastoma. I was devastated, and desperate to meet other parents who were having this experience. I wanted to learn more about my child’s eye condition and how his visual impairment was going to affect his learning and I also wanted to learn what I could do to encourage his development. I learned about


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


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