Browse By Topic: Reading

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


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


Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Avoid the "Summer Reading Slide"

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post is from Samantha Kelly, a teacher of students with visual impairments in Florida, who provides us with wonderful suggestions for helping our children elude summertime regression in reading. Helping Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired Avoid the "Summer Reading Slide" by Samantha Kelly Summertime. While the children are hyper-focused on keeping cool and enjoying the playground, parents are worried about preventing "summer slide" or the loss of skills acquired during the school year. While all students benefit from summer reading, students who are visually impaired benefit from a


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


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


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


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


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?


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).


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


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 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


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


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


Technology for Children with Visual Impairment

By Felicity Dryer Today we are posting a blog written by Felicity Dryer who is sharing her thoughts on technology. Every parent, particularly those raising a special needs child, wants not just the best, but the very best for their child. With special needs technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the possibility of reaching and applying such progress may very well be possible. What's Out There? Assistive technology (AT) now offers a long list of applications that have


It's Back-to-School Time Again: Resources for Parents of Blind Children

Across the nation children are returning to school in large numbers. Alabama leads the nation with a start date of August 5th, but others will follow with almost everyone back by the end of the Labor Day Weekend. This is a good time to remind you of the information available to you through the American Foundation for the Blind and its resources such as FamilyConnect. Technology is a vital component of the skills every child who is blind or visually impaired needs to learn. How do you learn what is new, what is working, and what to avoid? AFB's AccessWorld(r) Magazine is a free monthly


The Big Picture: Planning for the Future

Well, it is snowing again, actually snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The prediction for today is 3 to 6 inches and/or 6 to 12 inches and it is going to last into tomorrow. We live in the border region, the foot hills. A few miles makes a big difference. So, today, I have time to brood/think. No church for us. What is in our future? I do mean "our." My twins will soon be 8. I am 61. Will I be in sufficient health to raise our sons to adulthood? Will Vinnie continue to progress as he is now? Will Brandon's retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) get worse or remain stable? All questions we face each day. I tend to push those to the back of my mind and continue on with our daily routine. Do you


My Son's Experience with the Perkins SMART Brailler

I have been asking for the new Perkins SMART Brailler(r), since it first came on the market. The price tag of $2,000.00 is just a little out of my price range. It is not covered by quota funds. The services for the blind, through Catholic Charities in Maine, doesn't even have one to use/try. So we have been slogging along with the electric brailler with me dictating. We have been working on finger positions of the braille cell. Vinnie is now able to write about anything I dictate including correct capitalization and punctuation. I understand that teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) do not teach punctuation and capitalization when they begin teaching


Happy Birthday, Louis Braille!

In honor of what would have been Louis Braille's 205th birthday, we asked parents and educators to reflect on the importance of his braille code in their children's lives. Emily Coleman writes about Why Those Dots Are Important to Me Susan Harper, a home-schooling mom and frequent guest blogger, writes about What Braille Means to Our Son and Family Dr. Kay Ferrell, who monitors FamilyConnect's Parents of


iPad Apps and Tactile Overlays for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

iPads, with their built-in accessibility features such as VoiceOver, have become an exciting educational tool for children who are blind or visually impaired. But it can be hard to figure out what apps will work best for your child. Voiceover is a wonderful accessibility feature, but will our children's braille skills suffer if they rely on audio alone? One thing to consider is that with an iPad and tactile overlays, students who are blind or have low vision can actually use apps to learn important braille literacy skills. A new article, excerpted from the AFB eLearning Center webinar "Reinforcing Braille Literacy Using the iPad," gives some advice on how parents can use an iPad and tactile overlays to give their kids access to the same apps as their sighted peers, and how


FamilyConnect Celebrates Read Across America Day!

Reading is an important skill for lifelong learning and entertainment. Friday (March 1, 2013) is Read Across America Day, an annual event sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA). We are including several links for you to learn more about how you can be involved. Grab a book and read with your children or encourage them to read to you! Help them to learn this wonderful leisure skill. Here are some key FamilyConnect articles on supporting reading for all ages If you have a


Touching Letters...Touching Lives

Editorial Note: In honor of National Braille Literacy Month, we asked guest blogger Michael Cavanaugh, a dad who lives in Seattle, Washington, to write about what braille has meant to him. Getting the Diagnosis Life was turned upside down for me in 1993 when I learned my newborn son was blind. The doctors originally thought he had congenital cataracts and recommended immediate surgery. On the day of surgery, after what seemed like an eternity, the surgeon said the operation revealed Norrie's Disease and there was no chance of restoring any sight. My capsized life started to sink. My pediatrician assured me that she would contact someone who could alleviate my fears, and called the


Happy Birthday, Louis Braille!

It was 204 years ago on this date that Louis Braille was born. His invention and refinement of the braille code opened the doors to education and literacy in general for individuals with vision loss. After two centuries, braille continues to be at the core of necessary skills for independence. You can learn more about Louis


Inventor of Top-Braille Wins a Prestigious Award, Makes Headlines Around the World

Each year, for 109 years, the Lépine Contest in France selects a famous invention. This year the Top-Braille handheld device for instant playback of any printed text in braille or speech has won the prizeselected from more than 500 inventions! It is so cool to see how far technology has come in making communication accessible for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It's great to see that this device is being recognized and I hope that it will bring awareness to the public about the


Celebrate Children's Book Week with Braille, Tactile, and Large-Print Books

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, and maybe even scored some precious rest. This week, I wanted to alert you to another special occasion: Children's Book Week! Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, and homes around the countryany place where there are children and books. How will you and your family celebrate? Check the FamilyConnect calendar for events and programs near you, and explore the resources that partners like


Exploring Foreign Languages with Braille

I recently came across this interesting article written by a dad in Los Angeles, Eric Vasiliauskas, who wanted to share his Lithuanian culture with his blind son: "Enriching Your Blind Child's Life via Foreign Language Braille". Literacy and braille are so very important and this site brings into focus how families can bring foreign language into braille for their children. What do you think, have you tried introducing your child to a foreign language in braille? I would love to hear about your experiences. By the way, I just learned that AFB's Braille Bug(r) site has added a good introductory article about


Making Decisions and Keeping Track

Hi again everyone! I thought maybe this week I would discuss the issue of making literacy decisions throughout your child's educational life. I think that the people who visit this Family Connect website are at various levels in their journey. Some of you will have preschool children and will just be beginning to find information that you need. Others of you will be "seasoned experts" with older children and years under your belt. Still other families are here because their child may have experienced a decrease in visual acuity or ability recently, regardless of their age. One important issue for parents is the decision about their


Falling in Love with Braille

Hello everyone! Happy New Year! I'm Cay Holbrook. I am thrilled to be connecting with you this month and hope that we can have some very interesting discussions and learn from each other. First I will tell you a little bit about myself. When I was an undergraduate student at Florida State University, I happened to know a fellow student who was in the program to prepare teachers of students with visual impairments. I went over to his house one Sunday afternoon and he was completing his braille homework and I started looking at the Perkins braillerwriter and his textbook. It was love at first sight! I was so intrigued with those six dots and I spent


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