How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) understands that information is power. We are committed to connecting parents and guardians of children who are blind or visually impaired to life-changing information, resources, local services, and a vibrant and supportive community.

That’s why AFB launched FamilyConnect—which as of July 1, will be stewarded by the American Printing House for the Blind—a free, comprehensive resource of information and support for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired.

Recommended Links from FamilyConnect

  • FamilyConnect is a website created to give parents of visually impaired children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and find resources on raising their children from birth to adulthood.
  • The “After the Diagnosis” section addresses many common concerns of those who have children recently diagnosed with an eye condition. It provides eye condition-specific information as well as general guidance such as instructing parents on successfully working with a child’s medical professionals, adapting the family home, and obtaining helpful products and toys. This section also introduces parents to success stories of those living well with vision loss.
  • The “Browse by Age” section provides articles on age-specific information on raising a visually impaired child—addressing family relationships and social activities, growth and development, pertinent education issues, assistive technology, and more.
  • The “Multiple Disabilities” section delivers information to support the learning, communication, and independence of children who are visually impaired and have an additional disability.

Know Your Rights as the Parent of a Visually Impaired Child

The “Know Your Rights” section on the American Foundation for the Blind’s website presents information on the United States’ current special education law and outlines the assessments and services many children with low vision and blindness are eligible to receive. Additionally, you can find information on early intervention services, accommodations and modifications your child is entitled to, and how to be an effective advocate for your child.

The Cogswell-Macy Act

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1120 and in the Senate as S. 2087. AFB and organizations across the blind, deafblind, and deaf communities are working hard to drum up support for these bills so that this legislation can become a reality. The Cogswell-Macy Act would ensure specialized instruction, increase the availability of services and resources, enhance accountability, and increase research into best practices for teaching and evaluating students with visual impairments.

Learn more about the Cogswell-Macy Act by visiting the following links on AFB.org.

For more information about Americans of all ages with vision loss, visit “Statistical Snapshots from the American Foundation for the Blind.”

Blindness or visual impairment can have a profound impact on your life, but you are still in control. We have an abundance of information to help you, whether you’re visually impaired, losing vision, or know someone affected by vision loss. Explore these resources and discover how to continue living a healthy, productive life with vision loss.

Resources for Living With Vision Loss

Guide to Eye Conditions

A brief overview of conditions that are the cause of blindness or visual impairment.

Losing Your Sight?

VisionAware™, now stewarded by the American Printing House for the Blind, is a comprehensive resource for basic information about adjusting to vision loss, including tips for adapting your home and daily living. There’s also extensive information and support for senior citizens who are losing vision, as well as their family members and caregivers.

For Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Originally created by AFB and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, FamilyConnect® offers information and an interactive community for parents of children with visual impairments, with resources to help navigate infancy to the teenage years.

Using Technology

A round-up of issues related to technology for visually impaired and blind people, including AFB’s acclaimed online technology magazine AccessWorld®, which offers objective reviews of mainstream and assistive technology products for people who are living with vision loss.

For Job Seekers

CareerConnect® is your guide to the working world as a blind or visually impaired person. Learn from the experts about exploring careers, conducting a job search, getting hired, and succeeding in the workplace.

Braille

An overview of braille and literacy, resources for finding braille publications, and the Braille Bug®, an interactive website for kids.

Advice and resources for educating your vision impaired or blind child at home.

Accessibility Technology

Macsome Audiobook Converter
Mac Shareware $34.95. Convert purchased audio books to MP3 or AAC to play anywhere. The conversion is 5X speed fast, and output could be CD Quality. It’s also an .aa converter, audio book to MP3 converter. Company also has other audio software that could prove useful.

National Federation for the Blind – Products and Technology
The NFB’s products and technology programs provide tools of independence for the blind and serve as models of consumer leadership in designing and implementing innovative services. Check their technology resource list.

Learning Ally
Educational titles available in every subject area and grade level from kindergarten through graduate studies, RFB&D’s digitally recorded textbooks are effective learning tools for students challenged by the printed page. See their Facebook page for additional tips.

http://youtu.be/6sm48jHyMYI
VoiceOver
Free with Mac computers. OS X, better than ever. While most text-to-speech systems analyze and synthesize text one sentence at a time, OS X analyzes text a paragraph at a time to decipher the context of words more accurately. This helps Alex more closely match the nuances of how people really talk. He sounds so natural, he even pauses for a breath between long passages. Also available for iOS on iPhones. Hadley has a series of YouTube videos for using iDevices with the blind.

Instruction Tips

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

Art Ideas
Loads of craft projects, described in text only, that can be accomplished by visually impaired children.

Assessment and Instructional Resources
Listing of assessment tools used and recommended by teachers of the visually impaired to evaluate their students’ skills.

Homeschooling a Blind Child
Pinterest board with resources and inspiration for families who homeschool kids who are blind or visually impaired.

Social Networks

Blind Homeschoolers
This group was created for families who are homeschooling blind children or blind families homeschooling sighted children.

Blindhomeschooler
This is for families who are homeschooling/parenting a blind child. Teachers of the Visually Impaired who would like to share tips and suggestions are also welcome.

BVI-Parents
This is a list where parents of blind or visually impaired children can discuss topics related to raising their children, dealing with concerns about the educational system, public attitudes about blindness, etc.

Homeschooling And Vision Therapy
We are group of homeschooling families who have children in vision therapy! We are here to share stories, ideas and curriculum and support each other on this journey!

Resources for Curriculum

American Printing House for the Blind
Large print textbooks. Custom order large print curriculum. iPad accessibility products to turn your iPad into visual braillewriter. Free books for young readers.

The Best Braille Children’s Book Resources on the Internet
You may be thinking that this is a real road block, that your child won’t have the same access to books as her sighted peers will. Well, maybe not, but there is a world of braille books out there just waiting to be discovered by your young reader.

Bookshare
A nonprofit online library of over 68,000 digital books. Through an award from the Office of Special Education programs, we provide free membership and access to this collection to U.S. students, including homeschoolers, with qualified print disabilities.

Braille Institute
Once your application is processed, a Reader Advisor will be there to help you select titles of interest to you, assist you in choosing the right playback machine and guide you in using Library Services. Your loaned playback machine should arrive approximately a month after your initial book order. You may keep the equipment as long as needed, provided you borrow reading materials from us regularly.

Described and Captioned Media Program
We offer free-loan described educational media for the benefit of students who are blind or visually impaired. No fees apply, and all postage is prepaid. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Hadley School for the Blind
Accredited program that offers over 90 distance education courses to eligible students completely free of charge.

Playtime is Science for Children with Disabilities
A curriculum that aims to increase the ability of teachers, staff and parents to motivate and empower students with disabilities in grades K – 4 to develop science skills, build on their strengths, and develop confidence and skills in science.

Communication and being able to express yourself in conversation, is an important area of development for all children. Those with a visual impairment will need a little extra support but they’re just as capable.

All children are natural communicators from the moment they make a face, smile and utter their first cry. Children with sight loss will need extra support to develop communication and learn about cues to support them in this.

It’s never too early to begin exploring ways in which you can support your child’s development of the ability to communicate.

Communication is not only about learning to talk, there are nonverbal, physical means, such as body language and touch.

In order to allow a child with a visual impairment to understand and communicate appropriately, you need to give consideration to the following:

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

1. Make sure the child knows of your presence. If the child does not recognise your voice, tell them who you are.

2. Always use the child’s name. This will reassure the child that you are speaking to him/her.

3. Tell the child when you are leaving. This will allow the child to keep track of who is in the room and give him/her the same information as the other children.

4. Touch for attention if necessary. This will allow the child to understand without verbal language when it is appropriate to join in.

5. Speak clearly. Some children with a visual impairment may not see body language and facial expressions to help them to understand a situation.

6. Give verbal warnings. Inform the child before an event as they may not pick up on visual cues, ie,tidy up time, parents arriving etc.

7. Offer clear descriptions. When walking into a strange room, food on a plate, a new toy etc.

8. Explaining situations. By explaining the surroundings and events taking place, it allows the child to have a better understanding of the subject, i.e. a group of chatty children, noisy machinery in the road etc.

9. Let your child initiate conversation. Giving options is important so they get to choose and think. If they initiate something, for example, reaching out for an object, praise them and talk about it. This will encourage them to be active in their discovery.

The wider the range of communication options your child has an opportunity to try, the more likely they will be to find systems that allow them to share their thoughts with others.

We can support you and your family in all of this. For more information on how please get in touch with our team here or call 0300 222 5555. This blog is also available as a leaflet – if you would like a copy, get in touch at [email protected] or by ringing 0300 222 5555.

We can’t do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

Adapting your home to accommodate blindness does not have to be difficult or expensive. It is advisable that you consult a local health professional to legally determine whether domestic access facilities are provided for a blind individual. There are a variety of grants and funding options available that will help cover the financial costs of adapting your home to meet the needs of someone with a disability. There are also public services and non-profit organizations, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Disabled Living Foundation, that will can help with any inquiries relating to disability. Here are a few simple ways that you can adapt your home to make it safe for an individual who is visually impaired.

Eliminate Hazards

The best way that you can ensure that you are providing help for the blind in your home is to eliminate any ‘invisible’ hazards in your home. These are likely to be on the floor and include unusually placed steps, spills, and slippery rugs. If a blind individual trips unexpectedly it can be extremely painful, but it can also damage their self-confidence and their sense of autonomy.

Living with a disability can be debilitating for many individuals, and there is a multitude of hazards in public spaces. Therefore, it is especially important that home is considered as a safe and comfortable place without such issues. To prevent painful accidents, it is advisable to lay down carpet throughout the home and to make sure there are no sharp corners in the property. It is also best to keep the house as tidy as possible to reduce the chance of a trip hazard.

Implement Modifications

Organization and tidiness are important when you are adapting home access for someone who is visually impaired. It is crucial that you organize household items and keep similar objects next to each other. By modifying your home for someone who is visually impaired, you are giving them the opportunity to feel more autonomous throughout the home and less reliant on others.

One of the most difficult areas of the home to modify is the kitchen. It is full of potentially serious hazards, and this is one of the biggest challenges for blind people living independently. Unfortunately, this often results in a heavy dependence on the microwave, and that can result in under-nourishment. There are a few smart things that you can do to adapt your kitchen if you’re blind or visually impaired and these include labeling and focusing on the textures of kitchen objects, as well as shopping for products made for the visually impaired.

Accommodating Independence

If you are living with an individual who is blind or visually impaired, it is important that you encourage their independence. Many blind and visually impaired people are able to complete household chores and tasks. Learning how to use household appliances is completely within reason. The difficulty comes when other people try to rush them or treat them in a patronizing manner.This is counterproductive and leads people with disabilities to feel inadequate and unable to carry out daily tasks with confidence.

Conclusion

There are a plethora of ways that you can adapt any home for blind and visually impaired people – it just requires some organization, understanding, and patience.

Advice and resources for educating your vision impaired or blind child at home.

Accessibility Technology

Macsome Audiobook Converter
Mac Shareware $34.95. Convert purchased audio books to MP3 or AAC to play anywhere. The conversion is 5X speed fast, and output could be CD Quality. It’s also an .aa converter, audio book to MP3 converter. Company also has other audio software that could prove useful.

National Federation for the Blind – Products and Technology
The NFB’s products and technology programs provide tools of independence for the blind and serve as models of consumer leadership in designing and implementing innovative services. Check their technology resource list.

Learning Ally
Educational titles available in every subject area and grade level from kindergarten through graduate studies, RFB&D’s digitally recorded textbooks are effective learning tools for students challenged by the printed page. See their Facebook page for additional tips.

http://youtu.be/6sm48jHyMYI
VoiceOver
Free with Mac computers. OS X, better than ever. While most text-to-speech systems analyze and synthesize text one sentence at a time, OS X analyzes text a paragraph at a time to decipher the context of words more accurately. This helps Alex more closely match the nuances of how people really talk. He sounds so natural, he even pauses for a breath between long passages. Also available for iOS on iPhones. Hadley has a series of YouTube videos for using iDevices with the blind.

Instruction Tips

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

Art Ideas
Loads of craft projects, described in text only, that can be accomplished by visually impaired children.

Assessment and Instructional Resources
Listing of assessment tools used and recommended by teachers of the visually impaired to evaluate their students’ skills.

Homeschooling a Blind Child
Pinterest board with resources and inspiration for families who homeschool kids who are blind or visually impaired.

Social Networks

Blind Homeschoolers
This group was created for families who are homeschooling blind children or blind families homeschooling sighted children.

Blindhomeschooler
This is for families who are homeschooling/parenting a blind child. Teachers of the Visually Impaired who would like to share tips and suggestions are also welcome.

BVI-Parents
This is a list where parents of blind or visually impaired children can discuss topics related to raising their children, dealing with concerns about the educational system, public attitudes about blindness, etc.

Homeschooling And Vision Therapy
We are group of homeschooling families who have children in vision therapy! We are here to share stories, ideas and curriculum and support each other on this journey!

Resources for Curriculum

American Printing House for the Blind
Large print textbooks. Custom order large print curriculum. iPad accessibility products to turn your iPad into visual braillewriter. Free books for young readers.

The Best Braille Children’s Book Resources on the Internet
You may be thinking that this is a real road block, that your child won’t have the same access to books as her sighted peers will. Well, maybe not, but there is a world of braille books out there just waiting to be discovered by your young reader.

Bookshare
A nonprofit online library of over 68,000 digital books. Through an award from the Office of Special Education programs, we provide free membership and access to this collection to U.S. students, including homeschoolers, with qualified print disabilities.

Braille Institute
Once your application is processed, a Reader Advisor will be there to help you select titles of interest to you, assist you in choosing the right playback machine and guide you in using Library Services. Your loaned playback machine should arrive approximately a month after your initial book order. You may keep the equipment as long as needed, provided you borrow reading materials from us regularly.

Described and Captioned Media Program
We offer free-loan described educational media for the benefit of students who are blind or visually impaired. No fees apply, and all postage is prepaid. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Hadley School for the Blind
Accredited program that offers over 90 distance education courses to eligible students completely free of charge.

Playtime is Science for Children with Disabilities
A curriculum that aims to increase the ability of teachers, staff and parents to motivate and empower students with disabilities in grades K – 4 to develop science skills, build on their strengths, and develop confidence and skills in science.

Teaching Your Visually Impaired Child Sign Language

Jennie writes about how she taught her son, Max, to sign. Max is totally blind and does have a few verbal words, but using signs to augment his early communication has really improved his language skills.

Switch Play: Using a switch for communication and play!

For children who are non-verbal or have low motor coordination, switches can be a great way to augment their play. If you’re just getting started with a switch you may be looking for some ideas on how to use this device with your child. Here are some things we’ve tried with our switches.

You Can Say That Again! Echolalia in Visually Impaired Children

Learn why children who are visually impaired repeat back what they hear, and how parents can help minimize repetition in a constructive way.

Adapting Signs App for Children with Vision Impairment

This app gives tips on how to adapt signs for blind children including videos and written information. It also allows you to create your own dictionary of signs.

The ProxTalker Communication Board with Real Objects

The ProxTalker is a communications device that gives nonverbal kids a voice. Tags can be customized for your child’s specific situation, and added and revised as necessary.

Sign to Speech to Text – The Next Big Thing for the Deaf Community

New technology translates sign language to speech and speech into text, making communication between those who sign and those who don’t much more seamless.

Talkitt® Makes Unintelligible Speech Understandable

Talkitt translates unintelligible speech from any language into understandable speech through smart phones, tablets or computers. Works for people with speech disorders or diseases or syndromes that affect speech.

STACS: Standardized Tactile Augmentative Communication Symbols Kit

Tactile symbol systems are valuable tools that aid learners with conversations about people, places, events, and ideas.

Looking Deeper to Find the Person Within

Lesley Potgieter writes about reaching a child who cannot speak. Our ability to communicate via speech is the way the world accepts and interprets us, but Lesley argues that we need be more open minded when interacting with nonverbal people.

LessonPix Online Materials: Symbols & Visuals

Large pictures can be a great way to introduce concepts to children with low vision and can really help kids who need help with communication.

American Sign Language (ASL) Browser

The American Sign Language Browser allows you to choose any word starting with any letter and watch a short Quick Time video demonstration of that word being signed.

Planning the Day with Object Calendars

Creating a plan and a tangible system of communication is the best way to help your child deal with transitions. Using an object calendar or a schedule box can ease your child’s discomfort and get you through those challenging days (like during summer vacation) when you have no real routine.

Sign Language for Blind Babies

Can sign language work for blind babies? Signs are made to be very visual, can blind babies really pick them up? We’re here to tell you first hand, YES! We’ll tell you why you should teach your baby signs and give you some tips to make the lessons fun and easy.

Say it With Symbols

Say it with Symbols! is the first stop resource for families, caregivers and educators looking for easy-to-use, functional augmentative communication aids that help people with severe speech disorders actively participate in daily living by communicating using pictures and symbols.

Using Tangible Symbols for Communication with Blind Children

In this video Elizabeth Torrey, Speech and Language Pathologist in the Early Learning Center at Perkins School for the Blind, talks about the use of tangible symbols in helping children with multiple disabilities, including blindness and deafblindness, to develop and achieve communication skills.

When your child is visually impaired, you may need to think about how you can organise or adapt things in your home to help your child learn skills and become more independent.

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

Organising and adapting your home for your visually impaired child (eBook)

When your child is visually impaired, you may need to think about how you can organise or adapt things in your home to help your child learn skills and become more independent.

How to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired childHow to adapt your home for your blind or visually impaired child

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