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English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por Olga Uriegas, VI y Especialista O&M, Centro de Servicios Educativos, Región 11

Este artículo apareció por vez primera en la edición Otoño de 1996 deSEE/HEAR

Nota del editor: Las ideas de Olga son bastante fáciles de implementar. No obstante, podrá consultar con el Especialista O&M de su hijo(a) sobre dónde comenzar a partir de la habilidades de su niño(a). También será capaz de enseñarle las mejores formas de apoyar el cuerpo del bebé con sus movimientos específicos.


Las lecciones iniciales de orientación y movilidad deberán hacerse con y para los padres de los niños con impedimentos visuales. Aquí presentamos algunas cosas que usted puede hacer, mamá y/o papá, con su infante o bebé.

  • Mamá y papá sostienen al bebé cerca de su cuerpo, le permiten oír el latido de su corazón, oler su olor, conocerlos, etc.
  • Diga el nombre del(a) bebé mientas lo(a) toca.
  • Mamá y papá, hablan al bebé mientras mueven activamente su cuerpecito.
  • Mamá dice el nombre del bebé mientras papá le ayuda al bebé a voltearse de estar acostado hacia un lado.
  • Sacuda un juguete y ayude al bebé a voltearse de estar acostado hacia un lado para tocar el juguete sonoro.
  • Papá o mamá ayudan al bebé a voltearse desde atrás al lado izquierdo y de regreso al lado derecho mientras está en la cuna, sobre la cama o en el piso.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a voltearse de estar boca abajo al lado derecho o al lado izquierdo mientras está en la cuna, sobre la cama o en el piso.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a voltearse de estar boca abajo hacia el frente o viceversa.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a levantarse hacia el frente, usando una sábana.
  • Diga el nombre del bebé mientras lo(a) toca, hable al(a) bebé, dígale lo que está haciendo.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje suavemente con loción para bebés en sus brazos. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Éste es tu brazo.”).
  • Junte suavemente las manos del bebé y dele masaje con loción para bebés en sus pequeñas manos.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje con loción para bebés en sus piernas. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Ésta es tu pierna derecha.”).
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje con loción para bebés en su pancita. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Ésta es tu pancita.”).
  • Dele masaje corporal mientras le indica la parte del cuerpo que lo recibe, con ritmo (¡cante!) y lenguaje.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago sobre la panza de Papá; el bebé deberá estar viendo el área del cuello y el pecho del papá (Papá: háblele al bebé).
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de sus rodillas y mézalo tranquila y lentamente mientras le habla o le canta una canción de cuna.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago, encima de sus piernas y mézalo mientras canta; deje de mecerlo cuando haga una pausa en su canto.
  • ¡Disfrute a su bebé!
  • Cargue al(a) bebé en un mochila frontal para bebés; deje que se percate de su cuerpo y que se familiarice con usted.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de su sábana favorita y dele al bebé un paseo sobre la cama.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de su sábana favorita y dele al bebé un paseo a lo largo de la alfombra, del piso de madera o del pasto del jardín.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al(a) bebé a voltearse en la cuna o en la cama de boca abajo a boca arriba.
  • Papá y mamá ayudan al(a) bebé a voltearse hacia el juguete sonoro que usted sostiene. Guíe suavemente la mano del bebé hacia el sonido del juguete. Ayude al bebé con un juguete para apretar. Dele tiempo suficiente para explorarlo. Cambie de juguetes, pero primero indague uno o dos de los juguetes preferidos del bebé.
  • Guíe gentilmente la mano del(a) bebé hacia los tablillas de la cuna. Después dirija su manita a objetos que pueda apretar y sacudir (coloque objetos sonoros en la parte superior de los tablillas).
  • Ayude al bebé a alcanzar un móvil sonoro suspendido por encima de la cuna.
  • Permita que se arrastre (haciendo contacto con el estómago) en la cuna, sobre la alfombra o el piso de linóleo. Arrástrelo(a) en un patrón cruzado (haciendo contacto con el estómago) sobre el piso de madera.
  • Siente al(a) bebé a horcajadas y ayúdelo(a) a deslizarse alrededor de la superficie moviendo los brazos y después los brazos y las piernas.
  • Siente al(a) bebé a horcajadas y ayúdelo(a) a deslizarse alrededor de la superficie por lo menos 5 pies en un patrón cruzado.
  • Ayude al(a) bebé a mantenerse sentado(a) por lo menos durante un minuto.
  • Siente al(a) bebé con el sofá como apoyo. Coloque una pequeña bola de playa (con arroz adentro) sobre las piernas de su bebé.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé en el asiento para infantes y déjelo explorar su juguete favorito.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé en el asiento para infantes del carrito del supermercado, mientras mamá le ofrece artículos para tocar, oler y sentir antes de que los introduzca al interior del mismo.
  • Siéntelo(a) en una caja de arena caliente con almohadas como soporte.
  • Siéntelo(a) en agua con burbujas en la tina con mamá como soporte.
  • Siente al(a) bebé en su silla y déjelo explorar su juguete favorito.
  • Mamá o papá se sientan detrás del(a) bebé y con sus manos mueven las del(a) bebé para jugar con un pastelillo.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé sobre su pancita y ayúdelo(a) a levantarse empujando con sus manitas.
  • Haga rodar una bola de mamá al(a) bebé, de papá al(a) bebé, etc.
  • Lleve al bebé del antebrazo (en lugar de la mano) a alcanzar un juguete sonoro.
  • Ayude al bebé a levantarse a sí mismo utilizando apoyo.
  • Ayude al bebé a levantarse y mantenerse erguido utilizando apoyo.
  • Papá: coloque al bebé sobre su regazo; sostenga al(a) bebé por el tronco y cintura.
  • Permita al(a) bebé asumir la posición erguida sin apoyo.
  • Ayude al(a) bebé a apretar un juguete guiando su brazo ligeramente desde los hombros.
  • Mamá y papá sostienen al(a) bebé para hacer movimientos de caminata.
  • Permita al bebé caminar sin el apoyo del sofá, de la mesa o de la cama.
  • Camine al(a) bebé sin el apoyo de objetos.
  • Que camine sin el apoyo de objetos con sus brazos extendidos con una base amplia a sus pies.
  • Que camine con el peso distribuido de manera uniforme, con los dedos del pie apuntando a la dirección hacia la que se dirige.
  • Que camine de mamá a papá con sus brazos meneándose a su lado.
  • Mamá y papá le dan al(a) bebé la oportunidad de caminar en superficies lisas o desiguales... colinas, banquetas, etc.
  • Que ascienda escalones sobre sus cuatro extremidades deslizándose o corriendo precipitadamente.
  • Que haga movimientos para ascender escaleras con el apoyo de mamá o papá.
  • Que ascienda escaleras alternando el pie adelantado (un pie por escalón).
  • Que descienda los escalones de la puerta posterior sobre su trasero, precipitadamente.
  • Que haga movimientos para descender con apoyo.
  • Que descienda los escalones de la puerta principal uno por uno (ambos pies en cada escalón); después que progrese alternando el pie adelantado (un pie por escalón).
  • Que localice el escalón superior.
  • Que descienda 5 escalones de escalera.
  • Que se detenga en la base de las escaleras de la puerta principal o de la trasera.
  • Que haga movimientos de carrera, mientras usted sostiene su mano.
  • Corran juntos, la manita dentro de la suya.

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Gigi Newton, Teacher Trainer, TSBVI Texas Deafblind Outreach

Editor's Note: Gigi Newton is no longer with TSBVI. To reach a member of the Deafblind Team contact David Wiley at (5/2015)


As I travel around the state, visiting children with deafblindness in their homes and classrooms, I always check the child's hearing aids. Since these children need to make use of all of the sensory information available to them, having hearing aids that fit and work properly is very important. Unfortunately, many times I have found hearing aids that weren't working properly. In one instance I checked the hearing aids on a child when I arrived at a school mid-day, and I discovered that for two hours he had been listening to a "hiss" because the aids were set on "T" for use with a telephone. His hearing aids had effectively blocked any possibility of him hearing any sound other than that hiss. The reason this had happened was because the teacher and the paraprofessional did not know how to check the hearing aid. This should not ever happen to any child with a hearing impairment, but especially not to a child with deafblindness!

The classroom that has a child with a hearing impairment should have a hearing aid stethoscope and battery tester to check the hearing aid every day. Classrooms should also have a supply of extra batteries. In addition, IEP modifications and strategies should include the assignment of a staff person who will be responsible for checking the hearing aid on a daily basis. Regional Day School Programs for the Deaf (RDSPD) staff can demonstrate how to check hearing aids.

A videotape, Hearing Aid Management Skills for Families of Young Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Item #206), that can help is available through Hope, Inc. for $42.00. Parent advisors are shown explaining and demonstrating basic concepts and skills related to the management of the child's hearing aids such as understanding the anatomy of the ear, hearing tests, the audiogram, identifying parts and function of the hearing aid, putting the aids on the child, giving the hearing aid a daily listening check, establishing full-time hearing aid use, and troubleshooting for the source of feedback. Additionally, the INSITE curriculum, Volume I (pages 300-397) also addresses hearing aid management. It includes the same topics as the tape in print format. The two-volume set is available from Hope, Inc. for $90.00. Order the video or reading information from:

HOPE Inc. (Home and Family Oriented Program Essentials)
1856 North 1200 East
North Logan, UT 84341
Tele/fax: (435) 245-2888
Web site: www.hopepubl.com
E-mail:

You can also purchase a Hearing Aid Care Kit from HARC Mercantile, Ltd. for $40.00 (http://www.harc.com/hearing-aid-care-kit.html). This particular kit includes: a dehumidifier and storage case, stethoscope, forced air blower to keep earmolds dry, a mini-brush for cleaning the outside of the hearing aid, a wax remover tool, and a battery tester and holder. Similar kits may be available from other sources; check with your local audiologist or hearing aid distributor. Their contact information is:

HARC Mercantile, Ltd.
Phone - Voice/TTY: (800) 445-9968
Phone - Voice/TTY: (269) 324-1615
Website: www.harcmercantile.com

Step One: Examine the aid for damage

Hearing aids take a beating, especially from children. Make sure the case is not cracked or broken, that there is no visible sign that the aid has recently visited the toilet, or that the earmold is not plugged with earwax. If you notice major problems, make sure that the parents know about it right away. Classroom staff can sometimes handle problems, such as wax in the earmold. Other times the aid will need to be returned to the dealer. Sometimes a good audiologist, speech pathologist, or teacher of the deaf and hearing impaired can address the problem, especially if it is just a broken cord or moisture in the aid or earmold. Staff members should be clear about who can address which types of problems and be instructed on regular maintenance.

Step Two: Check the battery

Battery testers can be purchased from any number of variety or hardware stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, or Radio Shack. Some will check any size or type of battery, and some are designed to check only the small, flat type of battery used in hearing aids and watches. They are fairly inexpensive; one that will do the job of checking a hearing aid battery can be found for as little as $7- $10.00. Different hearing aids use different size batteries, so it is important to make sure the tester is set to the correct setting for the size of battery your child's hearing aid uses. The size of the battery is written on the battery. Generally all you need to do is touch the + (positive) end of the battery to the + (positive) wire or point on the tester and then touch the - (negative) end of the battery to the - (negative) wire or point of the tester. An indicator of some type will register whether the battery is "good" or needs replacing. Batteries should be check every day, even if you put a new battery in just the day before.

Step Three: Use a stethoscope to listening to the hearing aids

Once you have examined the aid and checked the battery, you need to listen to sound quality of the hearing aid. It is not enough to hear a whistle (feedback) from the hearing aid and assume it is working correctly. You need to listen using a device called a hearing aid stethoscope. A hearing aid stethoscope looks similar to a doctor's stethoscope except that it has a coupler that fits onto the earmold. When the hearing aid is turned on, you can listen to the sound quality.

It is a good idea to listen to the hearing aid every day to detect sound problems that can occur as a result of a short in a cord, moisture or dirt in the aid, or other problems that impact the aid. You can also detect sounds that would indicate that the hearing aid is set on the telephone setting.

Be sure the aid is set on "M" for microphone, that the volume is at the lowest setting, and that the aid is turned on. Slowly adjust the volume. Listen to the environmental sounds; then listen to your own voice. Say the vowel sounds such as ah, ee, oo, i and also consonant sounds such as b, t, s, sh. The sounds should be clear. This is a nice place to start teaching the child to check his own hearing aid. You can have him vocalize for you, while you listen; then you can vocalize for him after the aid goes in his ear and have him listen. This is also a nice turn-taking activity and a way to work on vocalizing.

Step Four: Check for feedback

Place the earmold in the child's ear after the aid is set on the volume recommended by the audiologist. The earmold should fit securely in his ear and should not whistle (this is feedback). If you do hear feedback, remove the aid and cover the opening of the of the canal in the earmold with your thumb. Turn up the volume. Do you hear feedback? If you do there is a problem with the aid itself. If not, you know the problem is the earmold is no longer fitting the child. New earmolds need to be made frequently (every 4-6 months) for a young child who is growing rapidly.

CONCLUSION

Just like glasses, hearing aids will not help a child if they are not worn. They also will not help him if they are not working properly. No child should ever have to suffer an additional hearing impairment because the professionals are not making sure the hearing aids are turned on, set properly, and working. If you are not sure how to check your child's (or student's) hearing aid, contact a teacher of the deaf or hearing impaired or the hearing aid dealer or audiologist who prescribed the aid. You wouldn't let a child use a wheelchair that was broken. Why should you let him use a hearing aid that wasn't working?

Winter 2001 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

(Originally published in Winter 2001 SEE/HEAR Newsletter)

By Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired


I recently had the privilege and pleasure to talk to a group of parents of blind and visually impaired children at a conference in Galveston. A popular topic among parents was how the choice is made between learning media. In other words, which children should be primarily braille readers and which should be primarily print readers? I had an opportunity to discuss this topic on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, I think that some of my comments were not clear, and that some parents left the meeting with impressions of my position on learning media that are not complete or correct. Therefore, I am writing this article, hoping that parents who may have misunderstood me will have a better understanding of my beliefs about teaching print and/or braille.

Most blind or visually impaired children fall into four categories when it comes to learning media. Some will certainly be print readers, for their vision allows them to read quickly and accurately, using either regular print, large print, or optical devices. Reading is not hard work for them, and they will achieve speed and comprehension rates that are sufficient for both educational and recreational reading.

Other students will obviously be braille readers and writers. Often these children will be either totally blind or have light perception only. Contrary to myths that have existed around braille for many years, this literacy medium is not too bulky, too slow, or too hard to find. Braille is, in fact, an excellent medium for reading and writing, and is not a second-class system to print.

A third group of learners will have difficulty with both print and braille. These students often have educational challenges in addition to a visual impairment. They will explore other means of literacy. One will be auditory learning. Another might be tactile symbols and calendar boxes. For all children who are blind or visually impaired, there will be a means by which literacy can be achieved in some form. That is what education is all about.

The fourth group is the one about which there is some misunderstanding and often confusion. This is comprised of children who are visually impaired and have enough vision to perform some tasks and activities visually. Some parents and professionals will want these children to learn braille. Others will advocate for full use of remaining vision, including the tasks of reading and writing.

The confusion about this fourth group happens when we fail to consider braille and print as being equal methods for reading and writing. If we believe one is superior over the other, we are at risk for making serious educational mistakes with children. Texas has recognized this problem, and legislation has attempted to place braille and print on a "level playing field" by requiring completion of a Learning Media Assessment on these children. The results of this assessment should serve as an excellent guide for the educational decisions that parents and teachers need to make.

What sometimes complicates the decision to be made, based on a learning media assessment, is that children who will learn print can easily be provided their reading program in a general education classroom. Children for whom braille is indicated will need to be taught by a credentialed teacher of the visually impaired. General education classroom teachers are not qualified to teach braille reading and writing, nor are paraprofessionals. For the child who will learn braille, the teacher of the visually impaired must be at his/her school every day. Recent data indicates that, for a child to be successful in learning braille, the teacher of the visually impaired must be available to offer instruction in reading for at least one hour per day.

Because of the shortage of teachers of the visually impaired in Texas as well as throughout the country, it is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, for the teacher to be with the braille learner for an hour a day. If the teacher of the visually impaired's caseload is too large, or geographic area of responsibility too big, then he/she may not be available to the child as often as needed. This is a very, very serious problem in providing the correct and most useful literacy skills to this group of students. Sometimes, in cases where there seems no other solution, the teacher of the visually impaired may consent to a child learning print even though braille would be preferred.

What I said in Galveston is that, if your child has pencil smudges on his nose when he finishes writing or if your child is reading one-inch high letters on a CCTV at less than 20 words per minute, I suspect he/she is in the wrong reading medium. If your child cannot read a whole word at a single glance, then your child may not be in the best reading medium for him/her. There are other tests to determine the correct reading medium, but the one that will satisfy both parents and teachers is the Learning Media Assessment, and it is required by Education Code to be administered to all blind and visually impaired students in Texas.

Parents, if you have not seen the results of your child's Learning Media Assessment, then I suggest you ask to see it. If you believe that your child would be better served with a different reading medium, then I suggest you discuss this with your child's teacher of the visually impaired. If your child is not receiving instruction in reading and writing as often or for as long as you agreed to at the child's ARD meeting, then discuss this with your teacher of the visually impaired.

Blind and visually impaired students are fortunate to have a variety of means by which to achieve literacy. If teachers and parents use these choices well, then every child in Texas should develop literacy skills to the maximum extent, and in the best medium, possible. It is up to parents to know what their children need, to work together with the schools to assure that there is agreement regarding the educational services provided, and to work with their teacher of the visually impaired so that children are assured of the best education possible.

ELAINE HOLYOAK KITCHEL, Research Scientist
1990

Abstract

Choices of UV filters and NoIR filters from 60 low-vision subjects were obtained from clients receiving services within Indiana Blind and Visually Impaired Section, Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Bosma Industries for the Blind and persons at large. Another group of 20 subjects was selected among non-visually impaired employees who worked for those institutions to provide a comparison. Subjects were asked to select for eye comfort, and contrast from among the following filters provided by NoIR Medical technologies: U50 (yellow), U81 (medium plum), U80 (dark plum), U21 (medium grey), U70 (pink), 102 (medium grey green), U10 (clear), U93 (red), U60 (orange), U22 (dark grey), 101 (amber), 708 (dark grey green). Twenty-eight percent of the experimental group chose medium plum filters, 25% chose yellow, with pink being chosen at a rate of 13%. Clients had been asked to select filters in standard indoor light and medium-to-bright outdoor light and judge filters according to the following criteria:

  1. Best contrast achieved and;
  2. Eye comfort

Determinations were then made about which persons most often chose which filters based on statistical frequency. Subjects performed a daily task while wearing the filters in order to determine if the filters actually helped improve contrast or eye comfort. It was found that the subjects who suffered from macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa most often chose yellow filters. Persons with histoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis and the category of "other" which consisted mostly of refractive errors and retinopathy most often chose plum, with plum being the most chosen color overall. Filters of red, green, orange and clear all were chosen by at least one subject. Grey was preferred by the control group overwhelmingly. Dark grey, amber, and dark grey green were not selected by any subjects with visual impairments.

Introduction

For many years now experts in low vision have been aware that persons with low-vision often suffer super-sensitivity to light and glare. In 1985, Joseph H. Maino, O.D., and Timothy T. McMahon, O.D., did a study determining their patient's preferences for the NoIR series of light filters. NoIRs are filters which incorporate infrared and ultraviolet absorbers, as well as blue light absorbers in some models. They then determined patient preferences for filters based upon ocular disease and visual acuity.

Drs. Maino and McMahon determined that more than 50% of the patients chose the #101, or medium amber filter. These were mostly patients with dry macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa. About a third of their subjects chose the #102 or grey green in medium tone. This color was preferred by subjects with eye diseases other than those named above. But it should be noted that the Maino-McMahon study included five colors of NoIRs only and did not include the broad color range and the greater light transmissions of the newer NoIR and UV filters available today. This researcher could find no literature which sought to determine the types of UV shields preferred by low-vision persons, especially in colors other than grey-green and amber.

Greater range of color is an important distinction because colored filters have improved greatly since the 1985 study. Traditionally the older NoIRs were very dark and did not allow for much of a color range. In fact, the Main-McMahon study used only five shades, medium amber, medium grey-green, dark amber, dark grey-green, and very dark green. But filters produced now by NoIR Medical Technologies have a wide range of color, shade, and light transmission.

This study uses a wide range of color and light transmission using the new filters produced by NoIR Medical Technologies. This provides for consistent color, shade and light transmission throughout the study:

  • Model U50 medium yellow, transmits 54% of available light.
  • Model U81 medium plum, transmits 20% of available light.
  • Model U80 dark plum, transmits 4% of available light.
  • Model U21 medium gray, transmits 32% of available light.
  • Model U70 light pink, transmits 44% of available light.
  • Model 102 medium gray-green, transmits 18% of available light.
  • Model U10 clear, transmits 90% of available light.
  • Model U93 dark red, transmits 4% of available light.
  • Model U60 medium orange, transmits 49% of available light.
  • Model U22 dark gray, transmits 13% of available light.
  • Model 101 medium amber, transmits 10% of available light.
  • Model 708 dark gray-green, transmits 1% of available light.

All these filters were used in the study.

Methods

The study was conducted on 60 low-vision subjects within the State of Indiana.

These subjects were recruited from among people being served through Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Section and Bosma Industries for the Blind. Another group of 20 persons was recruited from among persons who were not visually impaired who were working or serving in those same agencies to see if their selections were different from those of persons with low vision. Each visually impaired person had been certified as visually impaired by a qualified physician.

The subjects were asked to try on each of the 12 pair of filters mentioned in the introduction in typical indoor light, and medium-to-bright outdoor light and to select a single pair of filters based upon:

  1. Best overall contrast achieved and;
  2. Overall eye comfort.

Each subject was then asked to wear the filters to perform one of his usual tasks and to report whether or not the filters actually provided better contrast or eye comfort. All but one of the subjects reported that the chosen filter actually helped either to achieve better contrast, or helped achieve more eye comfort. Information was obtained on the filter chosen, and primary ocular disease.

Results

Sixty visually impaired subjects presented with 13 different eye diseases or conditions, visual acuity ranged from 20/70 to less than 20/800. Individual conditions which constituted less than 2% of the cases were placed in the "other" category. Persons with Stargaardt's disease were placed in macular degeneration category, Usher's syndrome placed in retinitis pigmentosa category.

TABLE 1: Ocular Disease Represented in the study
Disease/Conditon# of Subjects% of Total

Macular Degeneration

16

27% (includes Stargaard's)

Diabetic Retinopathy

6

10%

Glaucoma

6

10%

Retinitis Pigmentosa

6

10% (includes Usher's)

Histo-Toxoplasmosis

6

10%

Uveitis

4

6%

Other

13

21%

Subjects preferences for the filters in descending order were:

  1. Medium Plum 28%
  2. Yellow 25%
  3. Pink 13%
  4. Medium Grey-Green 10%
  5. Orange 10%
  6. Medium Grey 7%
  7. Red 3%
  8. Clear 2%
  9. Dark Plum 2%
  10. Dark Grey 0%
  11. Amber 0%
  12. Dark Grey-Green 0%

Typical Vision Group Preferences for the Filters in descending order were:

  • Medium Grey 85%
  • Orange 5%
  • Pink 5%
  • Medium Plum 5%

Persons with macular degeneration generally preferred yellow, but plum ran a close second place in this group at a ratio of 5:3. Persons with diabetic retinopathy preferred plum at a ratio of 3:1. Persons with glaucoma preferred yellow at a ratio of 3:1. Persons with retinitis pigmentosa preferred yellow over other colors at a ratio of 2:1. Persons with histoplasmosis and toxoplasmosis preferred plum over other colors at a ratio of 4:1 and persons with uveitis preferred grey over other colors at a ratio of 2:1. Persons in the category of "other" preferred plum at a ratio of almost 6:1. And the typical vision group preferred grey over other colors at a ratio of 17:1.

Discussion

It is interesting to make a few comparisons of the different disease groups within the study and their choices of filters. In general, the groups in which visual field was a main complaint, i.e., macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa, tended to choose the filter which let in the greatest amount of light while still affording good elimination of blue and ultraviolet light. This was demonstrated by their preference for the yellow filter with 54% light transmission.

This information tends to support the results of Maino and McMahon who discovered that their patients with dry macular degeneration, open-angle glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa preferred filters #101 (light amber) by 2:1 in the cases of macular degeneration and glaucoma, and 17:1 in the cases of the retinitis pigmentosa patients. One could argue this is because the filter #101 in that study was the one which let in the greatest amount of light.

In our study the model U50 or yellow filter lets in light of the same part of the spectrum as the #101 amber filters, but lets in 54% of total available light as compared to 10% in the #101. This underscores the need for maximum light for people with macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa while shielding them from the irritating ultraviolet and blue end of the visible light spectrum.

Persons with Diabetic retinopathy, histo-and toxoplasmosis in which the field is not necessarily small or peripheral, but rather scattered with scotomas preferred less light as afforded by their choice of the medium plum filter, 20% TLT (total light transmission) while still allowing good ultraviolet and blue light protection. Many cited "eye comfort" as their primary consideration.

Persons in the "other" group which consisted of those with refractive errors, cataracts, malformations, and brain injuries preferred the plum also, but there again, narrow or peripheral field is not usually a consideration.

The typical vision group overwhelmingly preferred medium grey, demonstrating that since improving their vision is not a consideration, they prefer to stay with a color they are comfortable with and have traditionally used in the past. Many of the typical vision group stated that they were resistant to change.

It is also notable that no one chose the filters with less than 18% light transmission in the grey, amber or grey-green colors. One person did select the 4% dark plum. But overwhelmingly all groups chose filters with at least 20% TLT.

These choices eliminated virtually all of the NoIR choices, in favor of the UV filters with more light transmission. Yet, oddly, many optometrists and opthalmologists still favor dark green, gray-green and dark amber when they prescribe or dispense a filter.

Conclusion

Given a choice, persons with low vision in this study will choose filters to promote maximum contrast and eye comfort. Persons with macular degeneration glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa demonstrated a need for more light than other persons with other diseases, as demonstrated by their choices of the yellow U50 in 60-75% of those cases. Persons with diabetic retinopathy, histo and toxoplasmosis and other eye diseases, prefer plum filters in a clear majority of the cases, 80-91%. The IR only filters were not preferred by any group. A few subjects did choose the medium grey-green NoIR, but not with enough frequency to be statistically important. We can conclude that people, both Visually Impaired and those with good vision, seem to prefer filters which eliminate ultraviolet over those which eliminate only infra-red. Of the UV filters tested, Plum U81, was the one most preferred, with yellow U50 running a close second. U21, medium grey was preferred by the typical vision group. Thus we may conclude that the choices of filters made by persons with low vision, do differ from those made by persons with typical vision. These choices are greatly impacted by the eye pathology of the person doing the selecting. This information implies that the color and wavelength of light entering and light reflected in the environment of the person with visual impairment affects his/her eye comfort and ability to detect visual contrasts. These results could be helpful to those designing environments for persons with low vision, and those recommending solutions to lighting problems.

TABLE 2: OCULAR DISEASES REPRESENTING 2% OR LESS OF TOTAL CASES STUDIED
Photophobia of unknown etiology 1
Severe Myopia 2
Retinal Detachment 2
Retinopathy of Prematurity 2
Papilledema 1
Brain Injury 2
Congenital Malformation 1
Cataract 2
TABLE 3: COLOR CHOICES IN DESCENDING ORDER USING TOTAL SAMPLE
FREQUENCYCOLOR CHOSENFILTER #TOTAL LIGHT TRANSMISSION
28% Medium Plum U81 20% TLT
25% Yellow U50 54% TLT
13% Pink U70 44% TLT
10% Orange U60 49% TLT
10% Med Grey Green 102 18% TLT
7% Medium Grey U21 32% TLT
3% Red U93 4% TLT
2% Dark Plum U80 4% TLT
2% Clear U10 90% TLT
0% Amber 101 10% TLT
0% Dark Grey U22 13% TLT
0% Dark Grey Green 708 1% TLT

Resources

  1. Legge, G.E. & Rubin, G.S. (1986). Psychophysics of reading. IV. Wavelength effects in normal and low vision. Journal of the Optical Society of America, A3, 40-51.
  2. Maino, Joseph H. and Timothy T. McMahon, O.D., "NoIRs and Low Vision," JOURNAL OF AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION, Vol.57, Num.7, July, 1986.
  3. "Light Transmission Curves of the UV Shield," NoIR Medical Technologies, South Lyon, MI.
  4. "Light Transmission Curves of the NoIR," NoIr Medical Technologies, South Lyon, MI.

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Myrna Medina and Jackie Kenley, California Deaf-Blind Services Family Specialists

Reprinted with permission from reSources Winter 2007, California Deaf-Blind Services. To view this and other issues of reSources, go to http://www.sfsu.edu/~cadbs/News.html.

Abstract: The authors share tips for facilitating communication between school and home. One author provides us a personal glimpse in how the communication notebook benefits her daughter.


A communication notebook or daily journal is a book that goes back and forth from home to school, and the idea has been around for a while. It seems to be something commonly used in special education.

It is important for parents to know what is happening with their children during the school day regardless of whether or not their children have disabilities. Home–school communication is one of the most important and necessary factors in developing good relationships between classroom teams and families. Due to busy work schedules, lack of time, and transportation challenges, the opportunities to meet in person are limited.

Teachers and school teams benefit when parents share information about medical issues that may affect the student’s behavior at school. It can be beneficial to the family and school team when they share ideas and successes with communication skills as well as other skills. Perhaps it is worthwhile to take a look at how we might better use this notebook tool with our students who are deaf-blind.

Educators and parents may see a picture in their minds of a beleaguered teacher at the end of the school day with a stack of notebooks that need to be written in. One possible solution for the team of the student who is deaf-blind may be if the student has a one-on-one aide or intervener; it may be useful to have that person writing in the communication book. The intervener/one-on-one will probably have spent most of the day with the student and be more attuned to what has happened at school. Also they will be aware of the communication [system?] the student is using and the different therapies that (s)he participated in that day. The teacher may then be free to write about special things that have happened, or concerns about the student. Also the student’s therapists such as Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, Orientation and Mobility, Speech and Vision therapists may find time to write on occasion and send messages home through the person writing in the notebook.

If the student has a home program it may be good to have the home staff write something in the communication book from time to time. Sharing ideas and strategies can be helpful to both the home and school teams.

It is, of course, important to send things—money, notices, emergency info—all sorts of things back and forth between home and school. These can be included with the notebook and this is a job the one-on-one might also help with.

Some teams may like to write long narratives but others may find that too time consuming. Most important is that the home school notebook is effective and it meets the needs of the child, team, and family; that it is used regularly; and is simple, honest, and positive, as well as understandable for all.

When writing in a communication notebook there are things we might want to consider. Things to consider are:

  • Something the student did for the first time at home or school, or something the student is beginning to do on a more regular basis, whether or not we see this as positive or negative

  • Something the student may be anxious about

  • Something that occurred physically—illness, bowel movement, menstrual period

  • What is going on at home—visitors, activities, work schedules, home staff

  • How much sleep the student has gotten

  • What the student has eaten or drunk and how that seems to affect him or her

  • Who the student interacted with socially, and how (s)he seemed to feel about that —interaction with friends, classmates, family

  • Who are the student’s buddies—what activities do they share?

  • Who the student has interacted with to work/learn, and how the student felt about that —staff, therapist

  • Physical and communication patterns during the day/week that may show how the student is feeling

  • What is happening on the bus?

  • What happened today that was not so positive?

  • Very Important: What happened today that was positive???!!!

The minute you walk through the door…

By Jackie Kenley, California Deaf-Blind Services Family Specialist

When my daughter comes home from school on the bus, we have developed a routine through the years. She seems to do best with routines and these routines meet my needs as well (e.g., her basic need to get a drink and go to the bathroom and my basic need to find out what has happened that day at school). Because of her limited communication, the home-school notebook is a particularly needed resource for me. Each day, I reach for the notebook in her backpack and try to get an idea of what’s up. Of course, life interrupts all routines, but I find this time well spent and it helps us with our plans for the rest of the day. It also helps me to know about things that need to be celebrated, things that need to be more clearly understood, and sometimes things that need to be addressed.

Some days I receive a quick note with the “basics” about her schedule, such as what she has eaten that day. Some days may be special because she has done something really exciting and new, or even comical…like throwing her folded cane in the trash can that has a permanent top! The team may have concerns about her health or there may be a cry for help from the school team about how tough things have been. This cry for help may just be a negative report but I have learned the importance of a follow up call. A longer note back to school—sometimes to schedule a team meeting—may also be helpful. Sometimes just letting members of the school team know that I understand and know they are trying their best seems to be very important to them. When I read about a less-than-positive persistent problem, the team and I can meet and often come up with ideas that support the team and help turn things around for my daughter. The home-school notebook can help facilitate comfortable, non-confrontational team meetings that are so helpful. It is something that I often wish for every child’s team.

I have had the opportunity to speak with teachers in college classes throughout the years and I always emphasize the importance of using a home-school notebook to communicate with families. I suggest that they try to write about something positive that occurred during the school day. At times, this may be a bit tough for the school staff but it can be a good practice and it is certainly encouraging to families. How many school situations could be turned around by good communication? The home-school notebook allows families and teams to work together to make the system (and program) work more effectively for the student.

Here is a collection of resources for gaming. There are 2 sections. First, is magazines dedicated to the gamer with visual impairments. Second, is a list of sites where you can download and/or purchase games.

Information

  • How To Play a Text Adventure, Part 1
  • QuestML - What is QML? QML, the Quest Markup Language, is a free XML-based Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game system by. Adventures can have images, sound, states to check, random events and much more. You can have them be played on any browser, even make them accessible by text-to-speech clients.

Accessible Games

Verano 1999 Tabula de Contenido
English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por: Tanni Anthony, Director de Proyecto, Servicios para Niños Sordociegos de Colorado

Publicado con permiso de VIP Newsletter, Septiembre 96, Volumen 12, Número 3

Publicado trimestralmente por el Fondo de Niños Ciegos


Los sentimientos del padre cuando se entera que su hijo necesita anteojos pueden ser angustiosos. Puede afligir saber que el pequeñito tendrá que usar anteojos. Pero, la buena noticia es que los anteojos pueden ser un factor importante que permitirá a su hijo mejorar su vista. Esto es una muy buena noticia porque significa que su hijo tendrá la oportunidad de ampliar su mundo, ver mejor y obtener información de una manera más eficaz. Después de tantos años de trabajar con las familias, he ido compilando las siguientes ideas que pueden ser de utilidad a los papás cuando por primera vez introducen los anteojos. En lo que se refiere a anteojos nuevos, hay dos componentes críticos que deben revisarse antes de comenzar el proceso de animar al niño a usar las gafas.

1. El armazón de los anteojos debe ajustar perfectamente. Algunos anteojos, especialmente esos para afaquia (ojos que no tienen cristalino debido a cirugía de cataratas) pueden ser muy pesados para los niños. El estilo de las gafas es muy importante y el usar una banda de cabeza puede ayudar a distribuir el peso de las gafas. Asegúrese que las gafas no aprietan la nariz ni los orejas. Vigile que no dejen marcas rojas porque eventualmente causarán irritación en la piel.

2. Los lentes deben ser hechos de acuerdo a la receta. Es común, que los lentes que no están preparados de acuerdo a la receta, ocasionen que el niño no tolere los lentes. Este es un problema que debe ser tomado en cuenta. Para verificar que la receta ha sido surtida correctamente lleve los lentes al óptico o al doctor de los ojos para que se determine la veracidad óptica de la receta en los lentes en contra de lo que el niño necesita.

La mayoría de los niños aceptan los lentes nuevos una vez que se dan cuenta que el mundo se ve mejor con ellos que sin ellos. La meta es ofrecerles suficientes oportunidades para usarlos para que ellos puedan darse cuenta de esto. Entre los consejos que les puedo dar sobre los lentes nuevos se encuentran:

Las únicas manos que deben poner y quitar los anteojos deben ser las manos de un adulto.

Si el niño se quita los anteojos, asegúrese de volver a ponérselos; y cuando sea adecuado quitárselos. Tan pronto como el niño se dé cuenta que él/ella puede controlar los anteojos, es posible que usted pierda la batalla. Con el tiempo su hijo tendrá la suficiente madurez para tomar esa responsabilidad por sí mismo, pero al principio es mejor que el adulto tenga el control para que los anteojos no se conviertan en un juguete o en un arma de manipulación.

Comience con pequeños incrementos de tiempo y gradualmente auméntelos para incrementar la tolerancia del niño.

Escoja una hora en que el niño está descansado y de buen humor. Prepárese para entretener al niño lo más posible para que esté suficientemente ocupado y distraído que no quiera quitarse los anteojos. Cuando introduzca los anteojos escoja una actividad que sea muy motivadora, que al niño le fascine. Cuando el niño se quite los anteojos, ponga alto a la actividad. Reanude la actividad cuando se deje poner los anteojos otra vez.

Haga de los anteojos una rutina de la vida cotidiana de su hijo

Póngaselos en la mañana cuando lo vista y quíteselos antes de la siesta o la hora de acostarse. En lo que se refiere a los pequeños incrementos de tiempo esta área es algo que debe explorarse. Por ejemplo, comience poniéndole los anteojos en la mañana como parte de la rutina de vestirse y déjeselos puestos tanto tiempo como el niño los tolere, después, al siguiente día aumente ese período de tiempo. Vea cómo funciona esto, tenga paciencia pero sea firme.

Marnee Loftin, TSBVI Psychologist

Prior to beginning the assessment, Texas regulations require that consultation between the teacher of the visually impaired and assessment professional must occur. Oftentimes it is difficult to make this consultation a meaningful process. Both groups are highly trained professionals, but generally the base of information will vary tremendously between these two groups. It is unlikely that assessment staff in a public school will have much experience or information about the special issues associated with students with visual impairments. Training in assessment of special education students is likely to focus upon those disabilities that occur at a much higher incidence, such as mental retardation or emotional disturbance. Conversely, the teacher of the visually impaired may have a great deal of information about criterion-referenced assessment, but little information about standardized testing procedures. Recommendations for modifications must be tempered with knowledge regarding what modifications would be inappropriate within the standards for assessment.

To assist in making the consultation process a meaningful one, it is important that information be provided in a consistent manner. For each student that is being assessed, it is important that the teacher of the visually impaired provide specific information in the following areas:

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE VISUAL CONDITION AND MODIFICATIONS

  • An overview of the visual condition and specific educational implications 
  • A copy and discussion of the most recent functional vision and low vision reports 
  • Specific suggestions for modification of the testing environment 
  • Any low vision aides or adaptive devices that are required 
  • The learning media assessment

This information is certainly available in a variety of reports found in the student's folder. However, a brief discussion is critical to ensure clear understanding of this information as well as the way in which it impacts assessment.

In addition to the information about the specific student, there is general information regarding interpretation of test results for students with visual impairments will be of benefit to the assessment professional. Future information to be on the Website will give more information about interpretation.

AREAS OF CONCERN

Three issues often emerge as most problematic during these consultations. Misunderstanding can result in over-identification of additional disabilities, inappropriate administration of standardized tests, and inadequate recommendations for an individual educational plan. These issues are lack of understanding about unique developmental patterns of students with congenital blindness, confusion about the needs of a student with low vision, and decisions about modifications of testing materials and procedures.

UNIQUE DEVELOPMENTAL PATTERNS OF STUDENTS WITH CONGENITAL BLINDNESS

Assessment staff who do not work regularly with young children with congenital blindness are often overwhelmed by many of their behaviors. The echolalic language, self-stimulatory behaviors, and egocentricity of their interpersonal skills are not seen as a part of the developmental process. It is more often seen as of diagnostic significance in determining the presence of pervasive developmental disorders. It is important that the assessment professional see this as a frequent concomitant to blindness particularly when accompanied by other disabilities or in very young children with severe visual impairments. Such behaviors should be noted and techniques should be recommended to deal with these behaviors. However, great caution should be used in identifying autism/pervasive developmental disorders as a separate disability. Prior to working with a young child who exhibits these behaviors, it is important that the teacher of the visually impaired stress that these behaviors are frequently seen in the young child with congenital blindness. Certainly some students with visual impairment also exhibit a type of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. This must be ascertained as a result of multiple assessments and observations rather than during a single evaluation. However, it is critical that this be a discussion during the initial consultation rather than a disagreement after assessment is completed.

MISUNDERSTANDING REGARDING THE NATURE OF LOW VISION

Low vision and the accompanying difficulties associated with it may be one of the most difficult concepts for people outside of the vision field to understand. To some extent this is because vision is seen as a process of either being " able to see something" or "not being able to see something." Problems such as field losses, visual efficiency, visual fatigue, problems with figure-ground relationships are often not considered. Therefore assessment staff may make a decision that a student is able to "see well enough" to complete certain items on a test. The student may, in fact, have the ability to see some of the items...on some of the occasions...for some of the time! However, the efficiency of the visual processing of information becomes the overwhelming task during the assessment. Conclusions that can be drawn about other aspects of the assessment become increasingly tentative as the struggle to efficiently perform becomes more critical for the student.

Thus it is important that the visual efficiency factor be carefully considered in choosing a test. The teacher of the visually impaired should stress that the behaviors observed on a playground or even in performing a few items on the Block Design subtest of the WISC may not necessarily be a good indicator of performance in other areas. Any instrument that is visually based should be administered with caution only if absolutely necessary. Clinical reporting of performance rather than actual use of scores always is a more functional use of these types of instruments.

MODIFICATIONS OF INSTRUMENTS

Each child with a visual impairment is legally entitled to each modification specified by the ARD Committee. The modifications must be made during the instructional day as well as during any assessment. On the surface the decision regarding modifications seems to be an easy task that could be accomplished through a simple review of the folder. However the task is much more complex and involves clear consideration of the following variables:

  • What is the purpose of the assessment
  • How will the assessment data be used
  • What individual issues for the student should be considered

REVIEW THE PURPOSE OF THE ASSESSMENT 

We generally think of assessments in a very general manner. They are seen as a means for assisting in "developing the individual educational program" for a child. Within this general framework, there are a number of different purposes. We may want to determine "how well a child is reading" but our concerns may focus a variety of skills used in reading. For example, our concerns may focus upon exploring their sight vocabulary, determining the speed at which they are reading, determining the comprehension level in different content areas or any other number of variables. Our recommendations for the modifications in the assessment process must begin with a careful look at our purpose. Unfortunately, in some instances, the modification specified by the ARD Committee will impact our ability to measure the area of concern.

Some modifications will, in fact, make a particular type of assessment meaningless. For example, a student may be an auditory learner and use oral instructions in the classroom.. A measure of the student's comprehension of concepts in social studies could be conducted orally. However, a measure of reading skills could not be conducted according to these specific modifications. A portion of reading abilities, i.e. comprehension could be measured in such a manner and remain meaningful. The other areas of reading skills would be invalid information if such modifications were made. In cases where invalid information would be gathered, it is always more appropriate to exempt a student from a particular assessment.

REVIEW THE WAY IN WHICH THE ASSESSMENT DATA WILL BE USED

Individual assessments have not only a specific purpose. They also often have a specific way in which they will be used. For example, information from an assessment of reading skills may be used as a source of data regarding whether a student should be served in a content mastery class or in a regular classroom with support. This should also be considered in determining the modifications. If the primary concern is to determine an approximate grade level of reading for instruction, an untimed test is highly appropriate. However, if the purpose is to determine if the student can be served in a regular classroom, some realistic limitations of time should be imposed. All members of the ARD Committee should realize that some statement of "outer limits" of time for task completion is a powerful means of determining efficiency. This is a critical factor in determining supports needed for an individual student as well as classroom placement. If statements of outer limits of time and smaller numbers of time will result in an invalid test, then it is likely most appropriate that the students be exempted from this test.

INDIVIDUAL ISSUES

In some instances, it is simply most reasonable that the student be exempted from certain tests because of individual issues that are present at that time. This is most likely seen when a student is making a change of mediums. It is certainly much more appropriate that these students be assessed in future years once they have mastered the new medium. However, it is important that realistic expectations be developed for a time frame for such mastery. Continuing exemptions year after year because of changes in mediums is inappropriate.


English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por Gigi Newton, entrenadora de maestros, extensión para sordociegos de la TSBVI


En mis viajes por el estado, de visita a niños con sordoceguera en sus hogares y escuelas, siempre controlo los audífonos. Tener los audífonos bien colocados y funcionando correctamente es muy importante para estos niños porque necesitan utilizar toda la información sensorial disponible. Sin embargo y desafortunadamente, muchas veces encuentro audífonos que no funcionan bien. Una vez, al llegar a la escuela al mediodía, controlé el audífono de un niño y descubrí que durante dos horas había estado escuchando un "silbido" porque el interruptor estaba colocado en "T" para cuando se usa el audífono con el teléfono. Efectivamente, los audífonos habían bloqueado toda posibilidad de escuchar otro sonido que no fuera ese silbido. Esto sucedió porque tanto la maestra como su asistente no sabían cómo hacer el control de audífonos. ¡Algo así no debería nunca acontecerle a un niño con una discapacidad auditiva y especialmente jamas a un niño sordociego!

Cuando una clase tiene un niño con discapacidad auditiva, debe tener un estetoscopio para controlar audífonos y un probador de baterías para verificar el funcionamiento de los mismos todos los días. Debería haber también baterías de repuesto. Además, las estrategias y modificaciones al IEP deben incluir la asignación de un miembro del personal que será responsable de controlar los audífonos diariamente. El personal de las escuelas regionales para sordos (Regional Day School Programs for the Deaf) puede hacer una demostración de cómo controlar audífonos.

Existe una cinta de vídeo que puede ser de ayuda llamada Hearing Aid Management Skills for Famili es of Young Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Item #206), y se puede adquirir por medio de Hope, Inc. por $42.00. La explicación y demostración de conceptos básicos y técnicas relacionadas al manejo de los audífonos está hecha por padres consejeros. Esto incluye entender la anatomía del oído, las pruebas de audición, los audiogramas, partes y funciones de los audífonos, colocación en el niño, cómo hacer un control de audición diario en el audífono, cómo establecer el uso continuo del audífono y cómo encontrar la fuente de ruidos y silbidos. Además el curriculum INSITE, Volumen I (pgs. 300-397) también habla del manejo de audífonos. Incluye los mismos temas que la cinta de vídeo, en impresión. Se pueden obtener los dos volúmenes por medio de Hope, Inc. por $90.00. Para ordenar la cinta o la impresión:

HOPE Inc. (Home and Family Oriented Program Essentials)
1856 North 1200 East
North Logan, UT 84341
Teléfono: (435) 245-2888
Sitio: www.hopepubl.com
correo electrónico:

Además se puede obtener de HARC Mercantile, Ltd. un equipo para mantenimiento de audífonos; el que cuesta $40.00 incluye un deshumidificador, un estuche, un estetoscopio, una bomba a aire comprimido para secar audífonos, un pincel pequeño para limpiar la parte de afuera del audífono, una herramienta para remover la cera y un probador de baterías. Otras compañías venden instrumentos semejantes; puede verificar con su audiólogo o distribuidor de audífonos. Información:

HARC Mercantile, Ltd.
http://www.harc.com
Phone - Voz/TTY: (800) 445-9968
Phone - Voz/TTY: (269) 324-1615
Sitio: http://www.harc.com

Primer paso: Verificar daños

Los audífonos reciben golpes, especialmente en manos de niños. Verifique si la estructura no está rajada o rota, si no hay señales de que el audífono haya recientemente visitado el inodoro y que no esté tapado con cera. Si encuentra problemas mayores, notifique a los padres del niño inmediatamente. Los asistentes de clases pueden a veces resolver problemas como quitar cera del audífono, pero otras veces el audífono tendrá que ser devuelto a la tienda. Problemas simples como la ruptura de un cable o la humedad depositada en el audífono, pueden ser resueltos por un buen audiólogo, un ortofonista, o un maestro para sordos y discapacitados auditivos. El personal de la escuela debe recibir instrucción sobre el mantenimiento regular de audífonos y tener en claro quién puede resolver qué tipo de problemas.

Segundo paso: Verificar las baterías

Los probadores de baterías se pueden comprar en ferreterías o comercios del tipo Walmart, Home Depot, o Radio Shack. Algunos probadores sirven para todos los tamaños de baterías y otros están diseñados para las baterías pequeñas y chatas usadas en los relojes y audífonos. No son caros, por ejemplo, un probador para batería de audífono puede costar entre $7 y $10. Los diferentes audífonos usarán diferentes baterías, por lo tanto es importante verificar que el probador esté en la posición correcta para controlar la batería del audífono del niño. El tamaño de la batería está indicado en la misma. En general, todo lo que se necesita es hacer contacto entre el extremo + (positivo) de la batería y el + cable o punta (positivo) del probador y después entre el extremo - (negativo) de la batería y el cable o punta - (negativo) del probador. Habrá algún tipo de indicador que le mostrará si la batería está buena aún o necesita ser cambiada. Debe revisarlas todos los días, aunque haya puesto una nueva el día anterior.

Tercer paso: Usar un estetoscopio para escuchar los audífonos

Luego de haber examinado el audífono y verificado la batería, precisa escuchar la calidad de sonido. No es suficiente escuchar un silbido proveniente del audífono para deducir que funciona bien. Necesita hacer la verificación con un estetoscopio para audífonos que se parece al que usan los médicos, excepto que tiene un acoplador que entra en el audífono. Cuando enciende el audífono puede escuchar la calidad de sonido.

Sería ideal escuchar el audífono todos los días para detectar problemas de sonido que pueden ocurrir como resultado de cortos circuitos, depósitos de humedad o de suciedad u otros problemas. También puede detectar sonidos que indican que el audífono está en posición para uso con teléfono. La compañía HARC Mercantile también vende individualmente un estetoscopio a precio moderado para este propósito. El número de la pieza es HAC-3000A y el precio es de $16.00 más $5.00 de envío.

Verifique que el audífono esté en posición "M" de micrófono, que el volumen esté en la posición más baja y que esté prendido. Ajuste el volumen lentamente, escuche los sonidos del ambiente y luego escuche su propia voz diciendo los sonidos de las vocales, a, e, i, o y de consonantes como b, t, s, sh. Los sonidos deben ser claros. Es un buen momento para enseñarle al niño a controlar él mismo su audífono. Puede hacerlo vocalizar mientras usted escucha; luego de colocado el audífono, usted vocaliza y lo hace escuchar. Esta es una buena manera de trabajar con la vocalización y un ejemplo de actividad en la que el niño aprende a esperar su turno.

Cuarto paso: Controlar si hay silbido

Coloque el audífono en el niño, luego de haber regulado el volumen al nivel recomendado por el audiólogo. El audífono debe encajar firmemente en la oreja y no debe haber silbido. Si lo hay, sáquelo de la oreja y cubra la abertura del canal con su pulgar, luego aumente el volumen y verifique si hay silbido. Si tal es el caso, el audífono tiene un problema; si el silbido ha desaparecido, el problema es que el tamaño del audífono ya no sirve para el niño. En el caso de niños pequeños que crecen rápidamente, es necesario cambiar llos audífonos cada 4 a 6 meses.

Conclusión

Igual que los anteojos, los audífonos no ayudan si no se usan y si no funcionan correctamente. Los niños con discapacidades auditivas no deberían tener que pasar por una situación que agrave su discapacidad, simplemente porque los profesionales no verifican que sus audífonos estén prendidos, funcionando y en la posición correcta. Si usted no está seguro de cómo hacer estos controles en los audífonos del niño, póngase en contacto con los maestros para sordos y discapacitados auditivos o con el comerciante o el audiólogo que recetó el audífono. Así como usted no dejaría a un niño andar en una silla de ruedas que está rota, tampoco debe dejar que utilice audífonos que no funcionan.

English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por Gigi Newton, entrenadora de maestros, extensión para sordociegos de la TSBVI

En mis viajes por el estado, de visita a niños con sordoceguera en sus hogares y escuelas, siempre controlo los audífonos. Tener los audífonos bien colocados y funcionando correctamente es muy importante para estos niños porque necesitan utilizar toda la información sensorial disponible. Sin embargo y desafortunadamente, muchas veces encuentro audífonos que no funcionan bien. Una vez, al llegar a la escuela al mediodía, controlé el audífono de un niño y descubrí que durante dos horas había estado escuchando un "silbido" porque el interruptor estaba colocado en "T" para cuando se usa el audífono con el teléfono. Efectivamente, los audífonos habían bloqueado toda posibilidad de escuchar otro sonido que no fuera ese silbido. Esto sucedió porque tanto la maestra como su asistente no sabían cómo hacer el control de audífonos. ¡Algo así no debería nunca acontecerle a un niño con una discapacidad auditiva y especialmente jamas a un niño sordociego!

Cuando una clase tiene un niño con discapacidad auditiva, debe tener un estetoscopio para controlar audífonos y un probador de baterías para verificar el funcionamiento de los mismos todos los días. Debería haber también baterías de repuesto. Además, las estrategias y modificaciones al IEP deben incluir la asignación de un miembro del personal que será responsable de controlar los audífonos diariamente. El personal de las escuelas regionales para sordos (Regional Day School Programs for the Deaf) puede hacer una demostración de cómo controlar audífonos.

Existe una cinta de vídeo que puede ser de ayuda llamada Hearing Aid Management Skills for Famili es of Young Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Item #206), y se puede adquirir por medio de Hope, Inc. por $42.00. La explicación y demostración de conceptos básicos y técnicas relacionadas al manejo de los audífonos está hecha por padres consejeros. Esto incluye entender la anatomía del oído, las pruebas de audición, los audiogramas, partes y funciones de los audífonos, colocación en el niño, cómo hacer un control de audición diario en el audífono, cómo establecer el uso continuo del audífono y cómo encontrar la fuente de ruidos y silbidos. Además el curriculum INSITE, Volumen I (pgs. 300-397) también habla del manejo de audífonos. Incluye los mismos temas que la cinta de vídeo, en impresión. Se pueden obtener los dos volúmenes por medio de Hope, Inc. por $90.00. Para ordenar la cinta o la impresión:

HOPE Inc. (Home and Family Oriented Program Essentials) 1856 North 1200 East North Logan, UT 84341 Teléfono: (435) 245-2888Sitio: www.hopepubl.com correo electrónico:

Además se puede obtener de HARC Mercantile, Ltd. un equipo para mantenimiento de audífonos; el que cuesta $40.00 incluye un deshumidificador, un estuche, un estetoscopio, una bomba a aire comprimido para secar audífonos, un pincel pequeño para limpiar la parte de afuera del audífono, una herramienta para remover la cera y un probador de baterías. Otras compañías venden instrumentos semejantes; puede verificar con su audiólogo o distribuidor de audífonos. Información:

HARC Mercantile, Ltd. http://www.harc.com Phone - Voz/TTY: (800) 445-9968Phone - Voz/TTY: (269) 324-1615 Sitio: http://www.harc.com

Primer paso: Verificar daños

Los audífonos reciben golpes, especialmente en manos de niños. Verifique si la estructura no está rajada o rota, si no hay señales de que el audífono haya recientemente visitado el inodoro y que no esté tapado con cera. Si encuentra problemas mayores, notifique a los padres del niño inmediatamente. Los asistentes de clases pueden a veces resolver problemas como quitar cera del audífono, pero otras veces el audífono tendrá que ser devuelto a la tienda. Problemas simples como la ruptura de un cable o la humedad depositada en el audífono, pueden ser resueltos por un buen audiólogo, un ortofonista, o un maestro para sordos y discapacitados auditivos. El personal de la escuela debe recibir instrucción sobre el mantenimiento regular de audífonos y tener en claro quién puede resolver qué tipo de problemas.

Segundo paso: Verificar las baterías

Los probadores de baterías se pueden comprar en ferreterías o comercios del tipo Walmart, Home Depot, o Radio Shack. Algunos probadores sirven para todos los tamaños de baterías y otros están diseñados para las baterías pequeñas y chatas usadas en los relojes y audífonos. No son caros, por ejemplo, un probador para batería de audífono puede costar entre $7 y $10. Los diferentes audífonos usarán diferentes baterías, por lo tanto es importante verificar que el probador esté en la posición correcta para controlar la batería del audífono del niño. El tamaño de la batería está indicado en la misma. En general, todo lo que se necesita es hacer contacto entre el extremo + (positivo) de la batería y el + cable o punta (positivo) del probador y después entre el extremo - (negativo) de la batería y el cable o punta - (negativo) del probador. Habrá algún tipo de indicador que le mostrará si la batería está buena aún o necesita ser cambiada. Debe revisarlas todos los días, aunque haya puesto una nueva el día anterior.

Tercer paso: Usar un estetoscopio para escuchar los audífonos

Luego de haber examinado el audífono y verificado la batería, precisa escuchar la calidad de sonido. No es suficiente escuchar un silbido proveniente del audífono para deducir que funciona bien. Necesita hacer la verificación con un estetoscopio para audífonos que se parece al que usan los médicos, excepto que tiene un acoplador que entra en el audífono. Cuando enciende el audífono puede escuchar la calidad de sonido.

Sería ideal escuchar el audífono todos los días para detectar problemas de sonido que pueden ocurrir como resultado de cortos circuitos, depósitos de humedad o de suciedad u otros problemas. También puede detectar sonidos que indican que el audífono está en posición para uso con teléfono. La compañía HARC Mercantile también vende individualmente un estetoscopio a precio moderado para este propósito. El número de la pieza es HAC-3000A y el precio es de $16.00 más $5.00 de envío.

Verifique que el audífono esté en posición "M" de micrófono, que el volumen esté en la posición más baja y que esté prendido. Ajuste el volumen lentamente, escuche los sonidos del ambiente y luego escuche su propia voz diciendo los sonidos de las vocales, a, e, i, o y de consonantes como b, t, s, sh. Los sonidos deben ser claros. Es un buen momento para enseñarle al niño a controlar él mismo su audífono. Puede hacerlo vocalizar mientras usted escucha; luego de colocado el audífono, usted vocaliza y lo hace escuchar. Esta es una buena manera de trabajar con la vocalización y un ejemplo de actividad en la que el niño aprende a esperar su turno.

Cuarto paso: Controlar si hay silbido

Coloque el audífono en el niño, luego de haber regulado el volumen al nivel recomendado por el audiólogo. El audífono debe encajar firmemente en la oreja y no debe haber silbido. Si lo hay, sáquelo de la oreja y cubra la abertura del canal con su pulgar, luego aumente el volumen y verifique si hay silbido. Si tal es el caso, el audífono tiene un problema; si el silbido ha desaparecido, el problema es que el tamaño del audífono ya no sirve para el niño. En el caso de niños pequeños que crecen rápidamente, es necesario cambiar llos audífonos cada 4 a 6 meses.

Conclusión

Igual que los anteojos, los audífonos no ayudan si no se usan y si no funcionan correctamente. Los niños con discapacidades auditivas no deberían tener que pasar por una situación que agrave su discapacidad, simplemente porque los profesionales no verifican que sus audífonos estén prendidos, funcionando y en la posición correcta. Si usted no está seguro de cómo hacer estos controles en los audífonos del niño, póngase en contacto con los maestros para sordos y discapacitados auditivos o con el comerciante o el audiólogo que recetó el audífono. Así como usted no dejaría a un niño andar en una silla de ruedas que está rota, tampoco debe dejar que utilice audífonos que no funcionan.

by Linda Hagood, Education Specialist, TSBVI Outreach Department
with help from Kate Moss (Hurst), Family Training Coordinator

Editor’s Note: In April of this year Region 20 Education Service Center and TSBVI Deaf-Blind Outreach Project sponsored a workshop presented by Dr. Jan van Dijk of the Netherlands. Dr. van Dijk has long been known for his work in developing educational programming for individuals with deaf-blindness. His work is the basis for much of the programming that occurs in this country for children with deaf-blindness. Linda Hagood, who has recently joined the staff of the Deaf-Blind Project in the Outreach department of TSBVI, has put together the following article as a result of the information she received during this workshop and her years of experience in working with children who have deaf-blindness. I think you will find this article helpful in thinking about communication for your child with deaf-blindness. If you have questions about the information presented you may contact Linda at (512) 454-8631, ext. 188. (Update 4/2015 Linda no longer works for TSBVI, but you may contact Kate Hurst with any questions you may have at )

In his recent presentation in San Antonio, Dr. Jan van Dijk stated that the goal in programming for individuals who are deaf-blind is "bringing the person to conversation." In my work as a communication specialist with children who are deaf-blind or visually impaired, I have become increasingly interested in this concept of "conversation" as it applies to children with limited language skills.

WHAT IS CONVERSATION FOR THE CHILD WITH LIMITED LANGUAGE SKILLS?

Conversation is often what we really want when we say that we’d like to improve "communication" or "language" skills of children with disabilities. Conversation can be defined as a dialogue between two partners consisting of multiple turns which are balanced between partners around a topic of shared interest. Most often we think of using words to fill our turns in a conversation, but we also can use actions, objects, facial expressions, and movements as our response during a conversation. Think of the times you shrug your shoulders, hand someone an object, or wave your arms in response to a comment or a question. Conversation differs from other types of communicative interactions because the focus is on interaction around a shared topic, rather than communicating concrete needs or wants, instructing, or following instructions.

Conversational interactions with children who have limited language skills should involve:

  • a short turn-taking format in which the adult and child alternately engage in actions with or without objects;
  • following the child’s lead in terms of interest or joint attention to objects;
  • a playful atmosphere, in which both adult and child are enjoying the time spent together;
  • modeling communication for the purpose of "commenting," "describing," or "requesting information."

While watching Dr. van Dijk evaluate a little boy named Tabor, I was struck by the undemanding, conversational nature of his interactions. We have often unintentionally taught our children to expect that all interactions consist of "adult prompts" followed by "child requests" or "child responses." I feel this occurs in part because we are not sure what "a conversation" looks like when the child has limited language. Let’s look at a "conversation" Dr. van Dijk had with Tabor.

Dr. van Dijk began by having Tabor and his mother sit beside him on the floor. Working through his mother initially, Dr. van Dijk instructed her to give Tabor a favorite object, "his" sock. After having some time to play with it, a second sock made of a different material was introduced by offering it to him or laying it on part of his body. Tabor would place "his" sock to his right, explore the second sock in the same way as the favored sock, then dropped it to search for "his" sock. This sequence of introducing other socks, letting Tabor examine the new sock, drop it and return to his sock was continued. Sometimes Tabor would be offered several socks at once and he would choose the one he wanted to explore. Dr. van Dijk gradually increased his involvement in this interaction until he was the person primarily interacting with Tabor. As Tabor caught on to this game, Dr. van Dijk began to alter the socks by tying a knot in the middle of it, tying two different socks together or placing an object inside it.

Before this interaction Dr. van Dijk had visited with Tabor and his parents and had learned several things about Tabor:

  1. Tabor had been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy and retinopathy of prematurity with retinal detachment in the left eye. He may have some light perception. Tabor had a moderate hearing loss resulting from complications of a shunt malfunction at the age of about four. He wears two ear-level hearing aids. He responds to voices and seems to discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar voices. However, he does not consistently search for sound sources or associate sounds with meaning.
  2. Tabor’s favorite toy was one of his socks. He would put the sock in his mouth, slip his hand down inside the sock, or stretch the sock with his hand while he held it between his teeth. He would also move through the house on his own and search through the clothes pile to find his sock.
  3. Tabor enjoyed playing movement games with his mother. In these games Tabor’s mom would co-actively clap his hands, or touch parts of his body, or rock him while singing songs.

Dr. van Dijk drew on this basic knowledge of Tabor to offer "topics" around which he and Tabor could have a conversation. He also used Tabor’s mom to "make an introduction" in order to enhance Tabor’s comfort level in interacting with him. All the elements of conversation were present in their interaction.

Turn-taking: Dr. van Dijk presented the sock, Tabor manipulated it. Dr. van Dijk presented another sock, etc.

Following the child’s lead: Dr. van Dijk focus on the object Tabor was most interested in and didn’t push him to explore the object in ways that were different from the ways he typically interacted with the object.

Playful atmosphere: The pace was slow and relaxed, no demands were made on Tabor to perform. His mother with whom he was most comfortable was involved in the interaction.

Commenting, describing, requesting information: Tabor’s actions said "I like this sock best. It is my sock. This sock is like my sock, I can do some of the same things with it, but it is also different. I like the way this one stretches. I don’t like the way this one feels." Dr. van Dijk’s action’s said: "I know you like that sock best, but I can put these two socks together for you. Your sock and the other sock will both hold this ball inside them. Some socks stretch more than others, you like to make them stretch, etc."

WHY IS CONVERSATION IMPORTANT FOR THE CHILD WITH LIMITED LANGUAGE?

I feel we should consider conversation as an essential component of communication and include it as an important aspect of programming for all of our students. As Dr. van Dijk noted, conversation "can occur at all levels" even with individuals who have little or no formal signed or spoken language.

Parents and teachers often tell me that they’d like to be able to have "conversations" with children who do not use or understand sign language or spoken words. I have unintentionally discounted this priority at times. I felt that it was more "functional" to focus first on teaching children ways to communicate their immediate, concrete needs and wants and to make choices between activities. I have made the mistake of suggesting that we save "conversation" for later, when the child has established a larger vocabulary or more formal communication system.

I found, however, that even after a child learned to ask for seconds at lunch, to choose between bowling and restaurant trips, or to follow teacher’s instructions he may continue to interact very infrequently with others. When I attempted to teach social interactive skills the focus was often isolated greetings or other social rituals. These did not necessarily make sense to the child, but they helped him to "fit in" to more normalized settings.

Focusing our communication teaching exclusively on "functional skills," such as requesting, choice-making and social rituals does not necessarily lead the child to engage in longer interactions or improve the quality of relationships with peers or adults. Children need to learn that sometimes we interact for the purpose of having fun together which is the "reward" for communicative behavior. These conversation interactions may naturally lead the child to more "functional" communication such as requesting, choosing or commenting.

FOUR PROBLEMS IN TEACHING CONVERSATIONAL SKILLS AND SOME SOLUTIONS

Some of the specific problems and solutions we’ve encountered at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in teaching conversation skills to people who are deaf-blind or blind multihandicapped are discussed in the remainder of this article. The emphasis will be on having conversations with children who have little or no formal language.

Problem 1: The child has limited exposure to conversational situations.

Idea: Set aside special times for having conversations.

Having a conversation with anyone takes a willingness to make time for that interaction to occur. We have conversations by phone, over a cup of coffee, around the dinner table, while riding in the car, etc. We take time to focus on the other individual(s) and devote ourselves to that interaction regardless of the environment in which the conversation occurs. Target some specific times of day or specific activities to have a conversation with your child. It might be just before bedtime, before you fix lunch, or before you begin a special activity together. Consciously targeting some special times to "chat" with your child makes these interactions more likely to happen.

Idea: Modify "functional" activities to focus on conversation skills development such as learning to select a topic, participate in turn-taking, and initiate, maintain, or end an interaction.

Conversations which occur during an ongoing activity frequently involve shared focus or playful interaction. Often these familiar activities help a child learn the art of conversation better than the situations which we set up to elicit requesting or choice-making.

An example of ways to incorporate both functional skills and conversation into a typical bath time are shown below. These are appropriate for a child who does not use formal signed or spoken language.

"Functional" skills that are worked on:

  • scrubbing body parts when touched
  • removing clothing
  • choosing favorite bath toys

"Conversational" skills that are worked on:

  • maintaining interaction by filling five (5) consecutive turns
  • initiating familiar play activity
  • choosing and/or changing the focus of the interaction

"Conversation" Activities (determined by the interest of the child):

  • Tickle games: "This Little Piggy" or "Gotcha" At first, the child may fill his turn by smiling during pauses, later by extending foot, or by ducking when adult says "I gotcha;"
  • Blowing bubbles through a straw on various body parts in predictable sequence.
  • Scrubbing each others' arms (take turns with adult or sibling);
  • Using squirt guns to squirt water in the same place on the child’s body using consistent vocal and touch cue to build anticipation;
  • Playing with water balloons. The adult fills balloons, some with air and some with water then ties them. Take turns playing with them by squashing them comparing full and empty or air-filled and water-filled balloons .

Idea: Use routines or familiar repetitive activities to develop patterns of expectancy and anticipation which can be built upon to provide the child a way to talk about the present, past, and future.

Children without formal language may have trouble understanding conversations about something which has happened in the past or will happen in the future. In order to develop this time sense it is important to begin with conversations which are closely tied in time to the actual experience. As the child learns to converse about familiar, repeating events in his "present" you can provide ways to help him begin to converse about activities in the past or future using calendars, memory boxes, and reference books. Dr. van Dijk discussed the importance of "announcing the event, discussing it." He stated that it is "essential for human beings" to have a past, a present and a future.

Dr. van Dijk stressed the importance of developing patterns of expectancy and anticipation through the use of routines or familiar repeated activities such as the "sock game." When an activity is announced or begun, it is important to watch the child for signs of anticipation and recognition. Some signals of anticipation may include:

  • a change in affect (become excited or nervous);
  • appropriate use of objects (e.g. begins to try to push the shopping cart, brings toothbrush to mouth);
  • moving toward the area where activity usually occurs (going to door when mother removes keys from purse).

The moment in which a child anticipates or expects something to happen is often the time they will communicate and our conversations will be most effective and meaningful. At the point of anticipation, pause for a brief conversation with the child before continuing with the routine.

For example, a child may initially anticipate a trip to the grocery store when her hands are placed on the grocery cart outside of the door to the grocery cart. For this child, the "conversation" could involve exploring the cart together; choosing whether to sit in the front or the back; buckling the belt and unbuckling it; showing the child a wrapper for candy they will buy later in the store. Another child may anticipate this trip to the store earlier in the routine. When his mother makes a list in the kitchen or collects bottles to be returned to the store the child may anticipate where they are going. For this child, the "conversation" about going to the store could involve helping to make a shopping list by drawing or placing pictures or labels on a list. He might help collect the return bottles or be given money for the merry-go-round or gum machine outside the store.

A "discussion box" provides a way to announce and discuss an event that is about to take place. The discussion box (usually a plastic basket or other container) contains a number of objects that a child may use during an activity. A breakfast discussion box might include a toaster, plate, cup, napkin and knife. When the child sits at the breakfast table, she can remove the items one at a time exploring the objects on her own. (She may show some anticipation of the sequence or function of the objects by the way she explores them.) Dad or mom can help her "pantomime" the use of the objects as they are removed, e.g. pushing button down on a toaster or drinking from a cup. In this way, the child can be exposed to a "conversation" which is only slightly removed from the activity, at a time in which she is anticipating a familiar routine.

When a child demonstrates anticipation of a variety of activities with cues presented just before beginning activities, he or she is ready to use a concrete calendar system. Calendar systems provide a concrete way of scheduling events that are important for a child. The events can be represented in a number of ways using objects, pictures, tactile symbols, or written or Brailled words depending on the child's preferred communication form and abilities. These symbols can be placed in a cubby box or on a more traditional wall calendar. Time frames reflected on the calendar may range from two activities occurring within a short period of time to activities or events encompassing an entire month or a year.

Having a conversation about the event which will occur can take place naturally during calendar time. However, even though it is important to talk about an activity after it is completed, I’ve found that children and adults are most interested in talking about novel aspects of past events. For example, instead of drinking the coke at the restaurant, it spilled. We filled balloons with water today instead of popping them. The conversation might incorporate pantomime or drawing pictures of these new and interesting aspects of the activity.

Problem 2: Children do not understand roles and rituals involved in conversation which allow them to: maintain, initiate, and end interactions, or change the topic.

The child with sensory impairments may not receive the visual or spoken cues which typically occur in conversations. Learning to take turns, initiating, maintaining, and stopping interactions or changing topics of conversation are skills that often need to be taught. They may need explicit instruction and concrete cues to learn the expected behaviors in both nonverbal and verbal conversations.

Maintaining Interactions Through Turn-Taking

Idea: Use social games to teach a child how to sustain an interaction.

Ritualized social games, such as "Peek-a-Boo, " "This Little Piggy," and "Pat-a-Cake" play an important role in teaching all children, even those without disabilities, how to sustain an interaction for multiple turns. These games have features which make them good for teaching children to take turns in conversations:

  1. Simple repetitive structure
  2. Playful atmosphere
  3. Clearly marked cues for child response
  4. Multiple opportunities for child response
  5. Reversible roles

When adapting these games for your child, think about how deafness or blindness might impact these features. For instance, the child without vision will need tactile and auditory "surprises," rather than visual ones to understand "Peek-a-Boo." The typical visual cues (hiding the face) are not available.

The social game features should also be considered when inventing new games for your child. Songs which involve "whole body" contact with the parent and incorporate movement provide a good structure for learning to keep an interaction going by signaling for continuation of movement during pauses, maintaining joint attention, laughing or other affective responses. Dr. van Dijk suggested movement activities with a predictable, consistent pattern provide an important basis for learning conversation.

Dr. van Dijk developed a social game with Tabor around sound play, which had been previously identified as a "self-stimulating behavior." He began by singing a brief melody in Tabor's ear, then paused to allow his mother to sing another melody. They continued to take turns singing the song until Tabor began to understand the structure of the interaction, then modified the tune, the loudness, and the rates of their singing to help maintain his interest. Tabor showed them that he understood and enjoyed the game by leaning toward the next "singer" during pauses in the interaction, and by smiling or laughing when the songs changed. In these subtle ways, he filled his turn and was able to maintain the interaction for about 15 minutes.

Idea: Multiple step functional activities with clearly defined, predictable roles can also provide children with a way to maintain an interaction.

Most activities can be broken down to multiple steps which can provide an opportunity for maintaining turns. For example, in washing the dishes the sequence might occur as follows:

  • Adult: turns on hot water
  • Child: turns on cold water
  • Adult: hands child dish soap
  • Child: squeezes soap into the sink
  • Adult: puts the dishes into sink
  • Child: rubs the dishes with a rag and hands them to the adult one at a time
  • Adult: helps the child pull the plug out

While the child may need some help initially to perform his parts of this activity, it is important that the turn-taking format is presented, so that the child learns that this activity is structured with consistent roles. A second adult may be needed to help the child fill his turn so as not to confuse this turn-taking structure. However, it is important not to structure all of the child’s activities this way or you will run the risk making the child too reliant on the adult’s prompts.

Dr. van Dijk also stressed the importance of consistency in the way that activities are structured for a child who is deaf-blind. Greatly altering the structure of the activity (e.g. asking child to "wash dishes by himself" with support provided by an adult as needed) may cause the child to conceive of the activity in a very different way, and may cause confusion about what we want from him.

Idea: Your main priority should be a focus on keeping the interaction going for more turns.

Children who begin to develop some language skills will inevitably be asked questions by adults. It is important to avoid overloading the child with questions, since these are usually not the best way to keep an interaction going. Even when children are successful in answering questions, we have found that questions often lead to "dead end " interactions consisting of a single adult initiation and a single child response. More helpful ways of keeping a conversation going include:

  • following the child’s lead by acting on an object mentioned by the child or providing language to describe what the child is doing or attending to at the time.
  • expanding what the child says (imitating his action and adding an action of your own)
  • responding to the child in some fashion even if you do not understand the intent of his communication.

Initiating Interactions

Children with deaf-blindness are often passive in their interactions, always waiting for an adult to initiate the interaction. Dr. van Dijk emphasized the difference between the child who will "wait and see," and the child who is in a more ready state of "anticipation," in which he is ready to learn. Some helpful strategies for stimulating the child to initiate might include:

Idea: Interpret non-communicative behaviors as "conversation starters".

When the child moves to an area and begins to search for a familiar object or toy, the adult can respond as if this is an attempt to interact and converse. For example, a child always goes to sit in his favorite rocking chair when he gets home from school. The adult always follows him, helps to remove his shoes and socks, and then rocks him gently. Periodically the adult pauses to allow him opportunities to continue the "conversation" by signaling for continuation.

The child learns that his actions can impact other people, and that people in his environment respond to his intentional behavior. He can start conversations as well as responding to others’ input. It is important to be sensitive to the level of intrusiveness which is acceptable to the child during this type of interaction. For example, if the child clearly does not want to share an interaction (i.e., turns away from the adult or clutches his chair more tightly when approached by the adult) this should be interpreted as "no" to the adults question "Do you want to rock with me?" It is important to respect this communication and his need for time alone.

Idea: Make slight changes in familiar routines.

When the child shows through anticipatory behavior that he knows what is to happen next, you may be able to stimulate him to initiate a "conversation" by throwing him a curve. Adding novelty to a routine, may cause him to try to initiate the predicted action or ask for an object needed to begin the activity. For example, instead of providing the wooden spoon to stir the juice at snack time, substitute a plastic spoon. Wait for the child to respond; he may search for the "correct" spoon or ask for the adult to help. This lets you know he is aware of what usually happens and allows you to have a conversation about the different utensils which can stir, the similarities and differences between the spoons, etc.

Idea: Help the child locate a partner for conversation.

It is important for the child with vision and hearing problems to know where to locate a familiar person if they want to initiate or maintain an interaction. For example, parents should try to sit in the same seat, close to the child at dinner. While playing at the sandbox, let him know where you are positioned. It is helpful to "touch base" with your child frequently when he is playing outside or in his room, by using physical contact and voice and by positioning yourself within his visual field. These momentary interactions may provide the child with important reminders that you are available if he would like to start a conversation.

Ending Interactions and Shifting Topics

We all employ "conversation ending" tactics ("I need to talk to someone over there.") and topic shifts ("That reminds me something I’ve been wanting to ask you.") to control our interactions with another person. When the child who is deaf-blind gives you a cue that he is not enjoying the interaction it is critical that you either change the topic or end the interaction.

Idea: Observe the child’s attention and interest level to determine when to shift topics or end the interaction.

It is important to respond to changes in attention and interest level as a child’s way to end a "conversation." Dr. van Dijk noticed after a period of time that Tabor was taking all of the socks and putting them to his right. Dr. van Dijk seemed to interpret this as meaning, "Give me something new." He moved to a new topic, the "singing game", to keep Tabor engaged. A child may fuss, turn his head, disengage, or demonstrate some other behavior to indicate his need to change the topic or end the conversation. Being a good observer of the child’s responses is key to having a conversation.

 Idea: Teach more conventional ways to end an interaction.

Some children may not have good strategies for ending an interaction. It may be helpful to teach the child to reject or end an activity by pushing objects away gently or by using a calendar "finished" basket. Both of these strategies can be taught in non-stressful situations. For example, the child pushes away the non-preferred item in choice-making activities; or he pushes his plate away gently as the final step in a dinner activity. One child we know threw away balloon pieces as a way to end the balloon activity. He was able to generalize this final step in the routine as a way to tell us, "I don’t want to play this game now." It was very important for us to respect his request to end an activity. We generally gave him some time alone before attempting another interaction.

Problem 3: Children may not have enough to talk about (limited topics).

Topics are the "subjects" of conversations; a conversation with a friend might include topics such as marriage, work, children. Our selection of topics reflects what we know about the world and where our interests lie. The child with sensory impairments needs us to bring the world to him, to find the things that are valuable and interesting. He will also need help to be able to share them with us. Help him expand topics for conversation by considering these guide lines:

Idea: Build topics for conversation by developing and expanding activities that the child engages in every day.

First look at the things that the child does already, such as brushing teeth, bathing, eating. Look for parts of those activities which could be turned into "conversations." For example, a "conversation box or bag" with a toothbrush, cup, and comb previews the activity with the child just before brushing teeth in the morning. Items can be added to the bag to expand on the topic, including hand lotion, lip balm, hair clips. During eating, a "conversation" can be set up by taking turns tasting juice or food items as they are added to the child’s plate. Try to develop a list of activities in which these brief conversational encounters can be incorporated without changing the child’s schedule. Think of these as "topics" for conversation .

Idea: Expand the variety of topics by looking at what is interesting to the child about favorite objects or activities.

Children often have favorite objects which they hold and manipulate. Instead of always considering these as "self-stimulating" objects which should be discouraged or worked around, it is sometimes helpful to look at the features of the object which make it interesting for the child and to try to build on these.

For example, one child we knew loved playing with a vibrator. He could remember the location of a vibrator wherever it was placed in the building. He liked to place the vibrator on his ear or neck, and tended to withdraw from interactions while engaged in play with his vibrator. We decided to introduce other objects that vibrated, to try to build interactive turn-taking activities around them. We were careful to introduce the new objects in interactive, not solitary, situations. We did this because we knew that if he began to play alone with them, he may not be as willing to share them with conversational partners.

Conversational topics which were developed around his preference included:

  • Foot massage with a foot bath, in which he and a partner took turns activating the foot bath with a switch, drying each others' feet, and rubbing each others' feet.
  • Making juice with an electric juicer. He and a partner took turns pushing the orange halves down on the top of the juice machine. They cued each other by passing the bowl of oranges when their orange was squeezed.
  • Play with a vibrating pillow and a switch with a timer. One partner holding the pillow while the other one turned it on with a switch.

The original vibrator never became a "conversational topic" because he used it only for solitary play and would not willingly share it with others. However, by looking at this child’s interest in vibration, we were able to build four interactive topics for "conversation." It was important to distinguish between interactive and solitary activities for him, because any of these activities could have easily become solitary activities rather than conversational activities.

Idea: Provide a format for displaying or making vocabulary concrete and accessible.

For children who understand object symbols, display objects on boards or hang them on the child’s door in shoe bags or boxes so that the child can access them. Children who understand pictures or tactile symbols can use storage books or boards which the children and adults can use to develop conversation. Organize these displays by categories (people, places, objects, actions), or by activity.

Idea: Associate specific people, places, actions, times, and objects with familiar routines to help him enrich his concept of a specific topic and to develop building blocks for more formal language usage.

Language grows out of children’s non-verbal knowledge of objects, people, places, actions, times, and feelings. All children have to develop organizational systems to take the chaos of random "experiences" and find meaning in it. Without some way to label an experience, it is impossible to share that experience with someone else. We organize these experiences in different ways making categories of a sort: things, actions, people, etc. which helps us retain and retrieve these experiences. These categories help us to interpret new experiences and expand our knowledge. For example, we associate the actions of pushing a cart, walking down aisles filled with food supplies, and selecting food with a grocery store. We do not associate petting a dog or riding a motorcycle with this place. The actions associated with the grocery store experience define the concept for us even though there are many types of grocery stores that we experience.

It is important to highlight specific aspects of an activity even if we aren’t using words or signs to describe them yet. This will help the child to develop these "categories" where his experiences can be stored. Later, when the language is introduced, the child will have the conceptual underpinnings needed to make sense of the sign or spoken word. The example in Chart 1 shows concepts or early vocabulary that could be highlighted in two different conversational topics that were the focus of the interaction between Tabor and Dr. van Dijk.

Problem 4: The child has limited partners for conversation.

Children with deaf-blindness often communicate to only a limited number of partners. Often, we see that the child bonds and develops trusting relationships slowly. Their conversations are often very context-dependent--only a few people know how to keep an interaction going with them, and only a few people can understand the child's signals or "home-made signs."

Idea: Expose the child to a greater variety of people by providing guided interactions with peers and others unfamiliar with the child’s specific conversational style.

Because of their unique communication systems, children with deaf-blindness are most often involved in one-to-one interactions with parents or other adults, and may not have many opportunities to engage in interactions with peers. It is important to provide guided interactions with others in order to support them in becoming friends with the person who is deaf-blind.

It may be helpful to observe the natural interactions which occur with peers, brothers and sisters, and use these interactions as conversational forms, instead of trying to train peers to use forms selected by a teacher. Children may come up with their own personal ways of communicating and interacting if we do not interfere with the process. However, we should be available to guide the interactions when needed and to demonstrate nonverbal ways to communicate.

When communicating within activities, peers and co-workers may need help learning to use touch cues, to play physical non-verbal games ("high-5," "cats in the cradle", etc.), and to respond to the child's signals. When communicating about non-present events, we have sometimes found that new people feel most comfortable in communicating if they have a communication book with concrete pictures or symbols to represent important activities (bathroom, car, eating).

CONCLUSION

Although Dr. van Dijk described conversation as "the goal" for the deaf-blind child, I think he would also agree that the types of non-verbal conversations we’ve been describing are also the foundation for learning language and a variety of other skills. As children spend more time interacting with other people, they naturally have more opportunities to learn from them. If conversation and interaction are priorities, the child will have many opportunities to learn new words, signs, symbols and / or functional living skills.

I hope that I have given you some ideas about how to improve conversations with children who are deaf-blind. To summarize:

  1. set up opportunities and situations in which conversations can occur;
  2. teach conversational structure (starting conversations, keeping them going, ending or shifting topics);
  3. expand topics by making the world more interesting and accessible;
  4. provide more varied partners; and
  5. follow the child’s lead and interests in order to engage him in conversation.

Better conversational skills can lead to better overall communication skills which are critical to leading a quality life for individuals with deaf-blindness.

READINGS AND RESOURCES:

MacDonald, J. and Gillette. Y (1986) Communicating with persons with severe handicaps: roles of parents and professionals, JASH, Vol. 11, 255-265.

MacDonald, J. and Gillette. Y (1985) Taking turns: teaching communication to your child, Exceptional Parent, September, 49-51.

Manolson, A. (1984) It Takes Two to Talk: A Hanen Early Language Guide Book. Toronto, Canada: Hanen Early Language Resource Center.

Stillman, R. and Battle, C. (1984) Developing prelanguage communication in the severely handicapped: an interpretation of the van Dijk method, Seminars in Speech and Language, Vol. 5, No. 3, 159-169.

van Dijk, J. (1985) An educational curriculum for deaf-blind multi-handicapped persons, Sensory Impairments in Mentally Handicapped People, D. Ellis (ed.) San Diego: College Hill Press.

van Dijk, J. (1965) The first steps of the deaf-blind child towards language, Proceeding of the Conference on the Deaf-Blind, Refsnes, Denmark. Boston: Perkins School for the Blind.

Watkins, Susan, Ed.D, Editor (1989) Communication program, INSITE Model: A Model of Home Intervention for Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Aged Multihandicapped Sensory Impaired Children (117-298). Hyrum, Utah: HOPE, Inc. Downs Printing.

Writer, J. (1987) A movement-based activity approach to the education of students who are sensory impaired/multihandicapped, Innovative Program Design for Individuals with Dual Sensory Impairments, L. Goetz, D. Guess, K. Stremel-Campbell (eds.) (191-224) Baltimore: Paul Brookes.


Chart 1 - Topic expansion for a child with limited language based on two sample conversational interactions between Tabor and Dr. van Dijk as discussed in "Conversations without Language: Building Quality Interactions with Children Who are Deaf-Blind" by Linda Hagood, TSBVI Outreach.

TOPIC & ACTIVITY: SOCKS

Tabor’s mother and Dr. van Dijk began by offering Tabor his favorite sock, letting him explore it in familiar ways, then offering other types of socks. As the game progressed the socks might be presented together so he could choose, with an object placed inside, or tied together. Tabor anticipated what would come next in the activity and would place "his" sock on the floor to his right so he could explore the sock that was being offered next. When he tired of the exploration of the new sock he would drop it and search for "his" sock.

VOCABULARY CATEGORY

  • Objects - (foundation for nouns)
  • Actions - (foundation for verbs)
  • Places - (foundation for names of locations, prepositions, adverbs)
  • People - (foundation for the names of specific people)

NON-VERBAL WAYS TO HIGHLIGHT SPECIFIC CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY

During the interaction Dr. van Dijk exposed Tabor to various types of socks (footlets, baby socks, sweat socks, nylon socks, slipper-socks). This type of experience can help Tabor understand that the category of "socks" includes a variety of different objects which share common features--they are stretchy and have an opening in the top.

Tabor currently likes to find socks, stretch socks,hold them in hands, and hold them in his mouth. The number of actions he does with socks can be expanded by gradually showing him to put on socks, put things into socks, tie and untie socks. Performing these new actions with socks will help him again to develop a richer concept of "sock" and will provide a foundation for learning verbs.

Tabor first discovered that he could find socks in a specific place, the laundry pile. Expand his understanding of sock locations by helping him to find socks in the dryer, in different dresser drawers, in his bedroom, etc. He also showed he has specific places where he puts socks based on whether he wants to play with it (in front of him), or he wants to store it (discards it by placing it in a pile beside him).

Although Tabor’s sock game is currently a solitary activity if he is not resistant to "letting people in", it might be nice to build some associations between specific sock games and specific people. Mama always plays put-the-sock-on-the -hand games, Daddy always plays hides-the-block-in-the-sock.

TOPIC & ACTIVITY: SONGS

Tabor’s mother and Dr. van Dijk took turns singing in Tabor's ears. Dr. van Dijk was positioned to his left and Tabor's mother was positioned to his right. Tabor showed he anticipated the next turns by smiling and orienting toward the next person during pauses. He also showed a preference for his mother's voice by generally shifting his body orientation toward her during the activity.

VOCABULARY CATEGORY

  • Objects - (foundation for nouns)
  • Quality - (foundation for adjectives)
  • People - (foundation for the names of specific people)
  • Time - (foundation for time concepts, adverbs)

NON-VERBAL WAYS TO HIGHLIGHT SPECIFIC CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY

Dr. van Dijk expanded the sound play by blowing up balloons and singing into them to change the sound of his voice. Other objects could also be incorporated into the sound play activity, such as kazoo, tubes, microphone.

Dr. van Dijk and Tabor's mother changed the rate, loudness, pitch, and tune of the singing presented to Tabor. This seemed to maintain interest for both Tabor and the adults involved. It also provides a basis for Tabor's later development of preferences and vocabulary related to sound quality.

Tabor demonstrated an acceptance of a new partner (Dr. van Dijk) and a preference for his mother's voice. This might be an activity which Tabor could later learn to share with peers or other adults and make associations. Ed sings the Popeye song, Mommy sings the Barbra Ann song.

The activity could be presented at a consistent time each day, e.g. always right before bed or just after breakfast. Later, when trying to teach concept words like morning or night, he may be able to associate this concrete activity with those more abstract time concepts as represented in a concrete calendar system.

Cooking is an Independent Living Skill most of us need even in this "grab and go" world.  Yet many students who are blind or visually impaired do not have this experience until much later in life.  Perhaps their teachers don't have time to work on this at school and parents may not feel comfortable providing this instruction at home because of safety concerns or uncertainty about how to adapt preparation.

Cooking is more than just creating basic sustenance.  For many of us cooking and meal planning is a hobby, a social outlet, and a way to promote health. It is also an important area included in the Expanded Core Curriculum.

If you are just beginning to teach your child or student how to cook you may want to consult with your teacher of students with visual impairments about techniques and adapted devices.  You may also want to read Franziska Naughton's and Sharon Sacks' article, Hey What's Cooking: A Kitchen Curriculum for the Parents of Visually Impaired Children and Holly Cooper's and Kate Moss' article, Get Out in the Kitchen and Rattle Them Pots and Pans.  Another wonderful resource you may want to view is Petra Hubbard's webinar on Independent Living Skills, which includes some information about techniques for teaching ILS including some tips for cooking.

At TSBVI we have collected many easy recipes that you can use with beginning cooks.  These recipes include dishes made with frozen food, boxed foods, breakfast foods, desserts, main dishes, and even grilling recipes for using a George Foreman type grill.  All of these are downloadable and printable in accessible formats.

Banquet (Frozen) Dinner Recipes

Betty Crocker Recipes

Boxed Food Recipes

Breakfast Recipes

Campbell's Soup Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Drink Recipes

Duncan Hines Recipes

Frozen Food Recipes

George Foreman Grill Recipes

Hamburger Helper Recipes

HEB Recipes

Hill Country Fare Recipes

Main Dish Recipes (lunch and dinner)

Pasta Recipes

Soup Recipes

Vegetable Recipes

 

 

 

Boston College 

School of Education
120 Campion Hall
Chestnut Hill, MA 02167
Dr. Susan Bruce
Assistant Professor  

PHONE: 617-552-4239
EMAIL:
FAX: 617-552-1840
TTY:
WEBSITE: 

Boston College has a long history in preparing teachers at the master's level to work with learners who are deafblind.  Although many graduates remain career teachers, others have become researchers, consultants, college professors, program administrators, and state deafblind coordinators.  Many international students have returned to their home countries to take leadership positions in the field of deafblindness.  Varied educational practicum settings are available and out-of-state as well as local practicum experiences are encouraged.  Federal grant money may also be available.

Cochlear Implants And Children On-line Course

Cochlear Implant Education Center at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University 
Debra Nussbaum

WEBSITE: http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/

The Cochlear Implant Education Center at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University is continuing to work on many initiatives related to children with cochlear implants. (with primary focus on children, families and educational programs that also use sign language) An on-line course is offered entitled Cochlear Implants and Children: Considerations for Implantation and Educational Planning.  An overview of the technical aspects of the device, surgical procedures, issues involved in determining candidacy, extent of benefit from the implant, and considerations for family support and educational planning.  Information related to effectiveness of cochlear implants will be highlighted in the context of age of implantation, psychological adjustment considerations and deaf culture issues. Contact Debra Nussbaum for information on the next sceduled class.

HOPE Online Courses

Free one-hour educational seminars are given by internationally known experts on a range of topics relating to the (re)habilitation and educational needs of children, teens, and adults who use cochlear implants or the Baha System. Continuing education credits (CEUs) are available from the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Many courses are offered for CE Credit from the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language for the LSLS Certification. CEUs are administered by Audiology Online. Cochlear Americas offers a free Certificate of Participation for those who have completed courses and returned a Feedback Form via the designated mechani

Northern Illinois University - Certificate Training In Deafblindness

Department of Communicative Disorders
Northern Illinois University
Rehabilitation Counseling
DeKalb, IL 60115
Jennifer L. Gregory Project Coordinator  

WEBSITE: http://www.chhs.niu.edu/

Northern Illinois University's Department of Communicative Disorders, housed within the College of Health and Human Sciences, offers a unique program designed to provide quality continuing education to the rehabilitation professional who wishes to enhance his or her skills in providing quality services to persons who are deaf-blind. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Participants may earn 15 semester hours of academic credit at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Training begins with an intensive three-week institute on the Northern Illinois University campus, located 65 miles west of Chicago. Students then enroll in a distance-learning component of the course that is completed during the second semester of study. The goal of the program is to impact significantly the delivery of rehabilitation services to persons who are deaf-blind by assisting rehabilitation professionals to be knowledgeable concerning the unique considerations of providing quality and accessible services to this population.

OHOA Intervener Learning Modules

The  Open Hands Open Access (OHOA) Intervener Learning Modules are a national resource designed to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills related to intervention for students who are deaf-blind and are being served in educational settings (ages 3 through 21). The development of the modules is in response to Recommendation 3 of the Recommendations to Improve Intervener Services (NCDB, 2012).  Recommendation 3 is one of a set of recommendations intended to establish a strong national foundation for intervener training and workplace supports. 

The module content was created by a diverse group of experts in the field of deaf-blindness including state and national deaf-blind project staff, parents of children who are deaf-blind, higher education faculty, teachers, educational interpreters, and interveners.  Each includes a variety of accessible videos, photographs, slide presentations, and learning activities.  The modules have been guided by an advisory committee, and reviewed by a variety of experts in deaf-blindness and the process of intervention, experts in module design, and field-test participants.

Cortical Visual Impairment Online Course [CVI]

Jim Deremeik
Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center  

This course is a re-creation of a workshop on CVI conducted by Dr. Gordon Dutton, a pediatric ophthalmologist from Glasgow, Scotland, at the 2006 AER International Conference. The workshop entitled CVI - Damage to the Brain: A Common Cause of Visual Impairment in Children, is an online course broken into nine sections. The course provides participants an overview of the visual system and how it works, disorders of vision due to damage to the brain, and approaches to helping students with vision problems due to damage to the brain. Dr. Dutton provides participants theory and practical application from his expertise as a clinician working with children and their families having been diagnosed with CVI. The course is broken into eight learning modules. The ninth and last section is a question and answer forum for those who attended the Salt Lake City workshop. The intended audience for this course is any care provider working with a child diagnosed or suspected of having cortical (cerebral) visual impairment.

East Carolina University Graduate Certificate In Deafblindness

The Deaf-blindness Certificate is an on-line program to prepare educators in the area of deaf-blindness based on nationally recognized competencies, reviewed by ECU faculty, and the National Consortium of Deaf-blindness.

Hunter College Of The City University Of New York

Hunter College School of Education
Department of Special Education
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
Rosanne K. Silberman, Ed.D.

EMAIL:
PHONE: (212) 772-4740
FAX: (212) 650-3542

Hunter College offers a Master of Science in Childhood Special Education with a specialization in Severe/Multiple Disabilities Including Deafblindness.  The program is designed to prepare teachers to provide instruction to learners with severe disabilities including those with deafblindness in specialized and inclusive settings.  Emphasis is on collaboration betweem special education and general education to prepare students to improve the quality of learning and increase educational opportunities and standards for all learners. Graduates will be prepared to teach in diverse settings that include early intervention centers, specialized programs in public and private schools, private agencies, hospitals and clinics.  They will be able to serve in such roles as specialized teachers of learners with severe disabilities including deafblindness, inclusion support providers, and as collaborative team teachers with general education teachers. Tuition waivers and stipends may be available for full and part-time study.

George Brown College

George Brown College
P.O. Box 1015 Station B
Toronto M5T 2T9
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5T 2T9
Betty-Jean Reid

The Intervenor for Deafblind Persons program provides an opportunity for students to learn how to work with people who have a combined loss of vision and hearing. Over the span of two years, students have the opportunity to learn how to guide, use assistive devices, and deal with the medical fragility that clients often present. The Intervenor for Deafblind Persons program is unique in Canada.

San Francisco State University

The Master of Arts in Special Education is an individually designed professional degree in an area of emphasis with deafblindness being one of the areas of emphasis. This degree provides advanced knowledge in Special Education and emphasizes research and leadership skills within a selected program of study. Programs within the department provide students with an opportunity to learn and participate in scholarly research, demonstration, training, and clinical projects with faculty. Coursework completed prior to, or concurrently with, Education Specialist or Clinical Rehabilitative Services credentials may be applied to the degree emphasis (Special Education and Related Studies components), with approval of graduate program advisor.

Graduate study requires application and admission to the department and university. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required for admission to the master’s degree. Refer to the department application for additional application requirements.

Texas Tech University College Of Education Virginia Murray Sowell Center For Research And Education In Visual Impairment

Texas Tech University offers distance education classes as well as traditional on campus classes for teachers interested in special education masters or doctoral programs with emphasis on a choice of orientation and mobility, visual impairment, or deafblind studies.  Some programs offer state and/or national certification upon completion.

Utah State University Online Preservice Training in Deafblindness

Specially trained to aid the deafblind, interveners have the potential to make a huge difference in the life of a child. Interveners help deafblind children acquire communication, personal development and relationship building skills in order to promote social and emotional well-being.

English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por Sandra Lewis, Profesora Asociada y Coordinadora, Programa de ImpedimentoVisual, College of Education, Florida State University

Joan Tolla, Especialista en Orientación y Movilidad, Tift and Irwin County Schools, Georgia. Reimpreso de Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 22-28, Ene/Feb 2003, con permiso del Council for Exceptional Children (Consejo para Niños Excepcionales), <www.cec.sped.org>.

Notas del Editor de VER/OÍR: Los recuadros referidos en el texto se localizan al final del artículo.

La Dra. Sandra Lewis discutirá el tema con mayor profundidad en el Texas Focus 2003, los días 12 y13de junio en San Antonio La información sobre el Texas Focus puede encontrarse en los "Anuncios Clasificados" de VER/OÍR. Su dirección postal es Sandra Lewis, Associate Professor, Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling Services, Florida State University, 205 Stone Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4459 (correo electrónico: ).


¿Qué es lo que todo niño pequeño aprende acerca de la lectura? De acuerdo a muchos estudios sobre aprendizaje de desarrollo (véase el recuadro abajo, "¿Qué Es lo que Dice la Literatura?"), los niños pequeños desarrollan la apreciación de que las actividades de "lectura" que realizan están relacionadas con las palabras que hablan y escuchan, y están conectadas con los símbolos escritos de nuestro lenguaje. Observan a otros leer y escribir en contextos funcionales y en actividades significativas. Es más, desarrollan conceptos básicos importantes acerca de la lectura de materiales (véase el cuadro 2 abajo, "Conceptos Librescos").

Pero ¿qué hay con los niños cuya visión es limitada o con los que son ciegos? ¿Cómo participan en actividades de lectura temprana? Este artículo explora las formas en que los educadores, padres y cuidadores pueden asegurarse de que todos los niños pequeños tengan la oportunidad de aprender a leer.


Cuadro 1

¿Qué Es lo Que la Literatura Dice Acerca de Aprender a leer?

Proceso de Desarrollo de Lectura. Aprender a leer es un proceso de desarrollo que comienza al nacer (Lamb, 1995; Rex, Koenig, Wormsley, & Baker, 1994; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998), sobre el que puede influirse de manera positiva mediante la participación de los padres y de otros proveedores de cuidados.

Entre las recomendaciones para facilitar las experiencias de alfabetización temprana de niños pequeños están las siguientes:

  • Proporcionar un ambiente rico en letra impresa (Clay, 1991; Handel, 1999; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).
  • Modelar el comportamiento lector (Handel, 1999; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).
  • Leer en voz alta a los infantes y bebés más pequeños (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).

De hecho, que le sea leído a uno puede ser el factor más importante en la preparación de un niño para que se vuelva un buen lector (Anderson et al., 1985).

Alfabetización Emergente. La fase de desarrollo de lectura durante la cual los infantes y bebés empiezan a familiarizarse con el lenguaje escrito y el proceso de aprendizaje de lectura y escritura se conoce como alfabetización emergente (Harley, Truan, & Sanford, 1997; Wormsley, 1997).


Cuadro 2

Conceptos Librescos

  1. Los libros están hechos generalmente de papel, pero también de otros materiales como piel o plástico.
  2. Los libros contienen páginas que pueden voltearse una a la vez; las páginas están numeradas.
  3. Los libros pueden contener imágenes y palabras escritas sobre sus páginas.
  4. Las imágenes reproducen objetos familiares.
  5. Imágenes y libros tienen una parte superior y una inferior, un anverso y un reverso.
  6. Los libros proporcionan información y placer.
  7. El lenguaje es consistente en cada página.
  8. El lenguaje puede ser recordado y relacionado a páginas o imágenes específicas.
  9. La información presentada en los libros estimula las propias ideas del niño.
  10. Los símbolos impresos le dicen al lector qué decir.
  11. Los símbolos impresos se leen de izquierda a derecha y de arriba hacia abajo.

Fuente: Adaptado de Communication skills for visually impaired learners (2da. ed.), de R. K. Harley, M. B. Truan, & L. D. Sanford, Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1997.


NECESIDADES DE ALFABETIZACIÓN DE NIÑOS CON IMPEDIMENTOS VISUALES

Obtener acceso a los símbolos escritos del lenguaje y observar a los adultos y compañeros modelar leyendo y escribiendo no lo consiguen fácilmente los niños con impedimentos visuales significativos. El impedimento visual puede interferir directamente con la observación de símbolos y eventos que son clave para el desarrollo de habilidades tempranas de alfabetización. Muchos educadores e investigadores han discutido las formas para introducir intencionadamente a estos niños en Braille y letra impresa así como para informarles sobre las actividades de lectura y escritura de otros (Harley et al., 1997; Swenson, 1999; Wormsley, 1997).

Una cuestión todavía más importante relacionada con la alfabetización emergente para niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales es el desarrollo de conceptos significativos por medio de experiencias de vida esenciales (Finello, Hanson, & Kekelis, 1992). Debido a que los niños con impedimentos visuales están restringidos a un acceso poco frecuente, espontáneo e incidental a las cosas y eventos en su mundo, su información acerca de estos objetos es limitada, inconsistente o fragmentada (Ferrell, 1997).

Además, una característica clave de aprendizaje de los niños con impedimentos visuales es aprender de las partes al todo. Debido a que su percepción está limitada a lo que pueden sentir con la mano o ver dentro de un campo visual limitado, los niños con impedimentos visuales tienen con frecuencia dificultad para entender la "gestalt" de un experiencia (Ferrell, 2000). Un niño con sentido de la vista puede observar con frecuencia desde una distancia todos lo objetos que están guardados en el cajón de un escritorio, que se sacan de la cajuela para lavar el carro o que están asociados con el baño; Pero el niño con impedimentos visuales quizás no puedan tener las mismas experiencias o tal entendimiento. En consecuencia, muchos niños con impedimentos visuales no traen consigo al proceso de alfabetización emergente la misma clase y calidad de información que los niños con buena visión. Los niños con impedimentos visuales tal vez no entiendan lo que otros les leen ni lo que se espera que ellos mismos lean (Koenig & Farrenkopf, 1997).

ILUSTRACIONES EN LIBROS PARA LECOTRES PEQUEÑOS

Los niños con visión normal tienen una ventaja agregada durante el proceso de aprender a leer sobre los niños que son ciegos o que tienen un impedimento visual importante. Los niños con vista pueden aprender cosas incluso si no han tenido contacto directo con ellas —animales, eventos, gente y objetos—excepto por medio de ilustraciones en sus libros. Los miles de libros publicados para lectores emergentes casi siempre incluyen imágenes. Tales ilustraciones no sólo introducen a los niños a la información con la que podrían no estar familiarizados, sino que dichas imágenes facilitan la comprensión del texto. "Las ilustraciones juegan un importante papel al enriquecer la trama al añadir humor e intriga, al dar pistas instantáneas sobre lo que trata la historia y al permitir al lector reconstruir la trama (en ocasiones sin referencia al texto)" (Lamb, 1995, p. 7).

Las ilustraciones también proporcionan un puente entre los comportamientos de escucha y de lectura temprana (véase el cuadro 3 abajo, "Comportamientos de Lectura Temprana"). Los niños se vuelven conscientes del texto sólo de manera gradual. Al principio, utilizan las ilustraciones como señales para recordar el significado de las palabras de la historia.


Cuadro 3

Comportamientos de Lectura Temprana

  • El niño disfruta al escuchar una historia.
  • El niño habla sobre las imágenes.
  • El niño completa líneas familiares de la historia con base en la memoria.
  • El niño usa señales físicas y visuales a partir de la letra impresa para hacer una historia.
  • El niño pretende "leer" libros de historias; puede deslizar el dedo sobre el texto impreso.
  • El niño asocia algunas letras con sus sonidos representativos.
  • El niño reconoce palabras clave en historias familiares

ILUSTRACIONES TÁCTILES

Para los niños pequeños ciegos o que tienen impedimentos visuales severos, los aspectos visuales de los libros escritos para lectores emergentes tienen un gran problema. La solución obvia a esta cuestión de posibilidad de acceso es el uso de dibujos de línea resaltada en conjunto con texto Braille. La interpretación de los dibujos de línea resaltada, sin embargo, es una tarea más difícil que la de reconocimiento e identificación de imágenes. Los dibujos de línea resaltada intentan presentar el mundo tridimensional en dos dimensiones. Aunque podemos ver esta relación visualmente, un círculo es muy distinto a como se siente una bola de béisbol; el contorno de un pastel de cumpleaños no se parece a su realidad táctil. De manera similar, el contorno del "Gato en el Sombrero" sosteniendo un pescado, no puede relacionarse fácilmente con el contorno del Gato sentado en una silla. Los detalles y la constancia que reproducen hasta lo abstracto no pueden reproducirse de forma táctil.

Un profesor ayuda mientras que el estudiante "lee" su libro táctil de la experiencia. .

Otra solución que se ha recomendado de manera frecuente es la de crear "cuadros de historia" (Newbold, 2000) o "bolsas de libros" (Miller, 1985 Stratton & Wright, 1991; Wormsley, 1997). Estos artículos son similares a aquellos objetos relacionados tanto a una historia publicada o no que se usan con propósitos ilustrativos para dar significado a la historia. Miller, la madre de un niño ciego, primero describió el uso creativo de sus bolsas de libros, en la que almacenaba objetos mencionados en los libros comerciales publicados. Miller y sus niños actuaban los hechos en las historias que leían usando estos objetos. Otros han recomendado guardar los objetos en una bolsa o en una caja, para estimular el reconocimiento y la discusión conforme son sostenidos y explorados por el niño pequeño con impedimento visual mientras el adulto lee (Stratton & Wright, 1991; Wormsley, 1997).

Las cajas de historias de Newbold (2000) fueron diseñadas para atender los problemas que los niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales tenían con frecuencia para relacionar sus experiencias con el acto de leer. Ella recomendaba que las historias simples acerca de las experiencias de un niño fueran escritas en tarjetas e incluidas en una caja con recuerdos del evento. El adulto y el niño examinan los objetos juntos mientras el adulto lee la historia, que incorpora gente y eventos que le son familiares al niño.

Ni las bolsas de libros ni las cajas de historias atienden la necesidad, para los niños ciegos, de ser expuesto a libros en los cuales el texto y los objetos o las actividades descritas por ese texto, sean presentados en la misma página. Los "Libros de experiencia táctil" pueden atender esa necesidad. En los libros de experiencia táctil, los artefactos de un evento experimentado por el niño son incorporados realmente en las páginas de un libro de estudio sencillo. Cada página también incluye Braille y texto en letra impresa. Los adultos que usan estos libros con niños pequeños pueden estimular la asociación de palabras que son leídas con Braille y el uso de movimientos manuales apropiados durante la lectura de la historia. Los niños pueden usar estos libros de manera independiente; pueden dar vuelta a la página, explorar de manera táctil el artefacto pegado a la página, y pretender que están leyendo la historia en voz alta. Los niños con más experiencias con este tipo de libros pueden empezar por reconocer palabras específicas basadas en su longitud, en su posición en el texto o las letras con las que inician o terminan.

Un profesor ayuda mientras que el estudiante "lee" su libro táctil de la experiencia

FABRICAR LIBROS DE EXPERIENCIA TÁCTIL

Seleccionar temas para libros de experiencia táctil es tan fácil como examinar los objetos que son parte de los ambientes en los que pasan el tiempo los alumnos con impedimentos visuales. Los eventos pueden planearse específicamente para recolectar artefactos para un libro o los artefactos pueden recolectarse como parte de un evento que ocurre de manera natural, tal como una ida a un juego de béisbol o una investigación de los patios escolares. De manera ideal, el niño participa en esta recolección de actividades, recolectando y separando los objetos que se utilizarán más tarde en el libro.

Sin importar el grado de compromiso del niño en su recolección, los artefactos deben ser artículos con los cuales el niño tenga contacto de manera táctil. Usar las llaves de un auto para representar un viaje no será apropiado a menos que el niño haya usado de alguna manera las llaves, quizás para abrir la puerta del auto. Usar objetos que el adulto asocia al evento, pero que no son familiares para el niño, es un error común de los fabricantes de libros inexpertos. Además, los artefactos utilizados en el libro deben ser reales –no representaciones miniatura de un objeto. Las miniaturas no proporcionan el mismo detalle para el aprendiz táctil que el que le proporcionan al aprendiz visual. Pensando otra vez en la representación de un viaje en auto, un carro de juguete no sería un artefacto apropiado, a menos quizás, que el niño haya jugado con el juguete durante el viaje. En general, un carro de juguete es muy diferente de la experiencia en auto de un niño ciego o que tiene visión baja. Un objeto más representativo podría ser un fragmento de la tela del asiento para el auto del niño o la hebilla del cinturón del asiento que el niño ha ayudado a abrochar.

Los libros preferidos son aquellos que son fácilmente manipulables por el niño. Deberá usarse cartón rígido para las cubiertas y las páginas, que deberán estar sujetarse con firmeza. Hemos encontrado que los aros de metal son más durables que el listón o la cuerda usados para encuadernar las páginas. Lo mejor es colocar sólo un objeto (o una categoría de objetos) sobre la página. Debido a que un objeto que ha sido pegado a la página crea una experiencia diferente que el mismo objeto cuando se sostienie en la mano, recomendamos que los artefactos puedan amarrarse a las páginas usando tiras despegables (Velcro©) siempre que sea posible, para que el niño pueda experimentarlos en tres dimensiones. Otra manera de garantizar que los objetos estén al alcance por completo del niño es guardarlo en bolsas Zip-lock que hayan sido pegadas o engrapadas sobre la página. Los objetos grandes, que pueden engrosar el libro y hacerlo difícil de manejar para manos pequeñas, pueden amarrarse con una cuerda a una hoja en particular y guardarse fuera de las páginas, para jalarlo cerca del niño cuando se lea la página.

Otro método para incorporar un objeto de gran tamaño, tal como el moño de un regalo de cumpleaños, es colocar el artículo sobre la cubierta. El niño puede usar este artefacto para identificar el libro y distinguirlo de otros en su colección. Las cubiertas no necesitan ser elaboradas. Aunque es visualmente significativo tener un libro acerca del viaje de Jim en el autobús de la ciudad cortado en forma de autobús, esto no le proporciona el mismo estímulo a un alumno con impedimento visual. Conservar el boleto que el conductor le dio al niño al abordar el autobús y pegarlo en la cubierta será un recuerdo más significativo del viaje.

Los niños con sentido de la vista pueden identificar fácilmente el lugar del texto en la página, así que su colocación no es crítica. El joven lector ciego recibe ayuda si el texto se puede encontrar en algún lugar predecible en la página. El texto Braille deberá crearse en papel Braille grueso en una línea continua. Las palabras deberán cortarse en pedazos y colocarse en la página como unidades o frases sencillas. La página del texto no deberá pegarse en la página, ya que el adhesivo puede reducir la superficie de los puntos Braille. Recomendamos engrapar el texto a la página, usando Brailleables®, o pegando solamente las orillas y las esquinas de la páginas sobre las que se estampa el texto Braille. Nota: para muchos niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales, la decisión sobre usar Braille o letra impresa para la instrucción todavía no se ha tomado. Por lo tanto, tiene sentido incluir también versiones de letra impresa de alta calidad del texto. La letra impresa puede crearse con un procesador de palabras sobre la página antes de que se agregue el Braille. Incluso para los niños ciegos, la letra impresa incluida en la página, ayuda a los padres, a los compañeros y a otros a compartir la lectura de la historia.

La determinación de que si el texto Braille debe ser creado en Braille alfabético (en el que el Braille iguala de manera exacta a la letra impresa) o en Braille Grado II (el formato de Braille usado en los materiales comerciales publicados, incluyendo los textos escolares) se basa en muchos factores. Los padres, el interventor temprano y el maestro de los alumnos con impedimentos visuales, si se ha asignado uno, deberán tomar la decisión de manera conjunta.

Los libros publicados para los niños pequeños con vista presentan texto que es simple y a veces repetitivo. Esta repetición ayuda al lector emergente a memorizar el texto, para que la atención pueda enfocarse en la correspondencia entre el texto y las palabras habladas. Esta misma práctica puede usarse en libros de experiencia táctil publicados para niños con impedimentos visuales. Aunque es tentador escribir pasajes largos y descriptivos, los niños pequeños resultan beneficiados si hay pocas letras en una página. También se ven beneficiados cuando se repiten las frases, tales como "En mi baño, hay un ____," o "Cuando arreglamos la chapa de la cerradura, usamos ____."

EL LIBRO DE EXPERIENCIA TÁCTIL DE MARY

Mary, que es totalmente sorda y ciega, está en el jardín de niños de su distrito escolar local. Un equipo de educadores, incluyendo a la segunda autora, Joan, quien es una especialista en orientación y movilidad (O&M), proporciona los servicios de apoyo a Mary. Los especialistas O&M generalmente trabajan en el desarrollo de habilidades asociadas con el desplazamiento, incluyendo el uso de bastón, imagen corporal, conceptos espaciales, percepción sensorial y habilidades de reconocimiento del ambiente. Joan decidió que un "libro de experiencia" sería un vehículo ideal para reforzar los conceptos de desplazamiento con Mary y se acercó al patólogo de lenguaje hablado que sirve a esta alumna para trabajar juntos en el proyecto.

Los dos adultos se reunieron con Mary y su intérprete en el jardín de la escuela y exploraron el área, que incluía flores, árboles, un quiosco e incluso conejos. Como Mary no estaba familiarizada con ningún jardín, las preguntas tales como ¿"Qué piensas que puede haber en un jardín?" no eran útiles. Por lo tanto, los adultos le pidieron a Mary que se desplazara por el jardín y que buscara objetos a su izquierda o a su derecha, sobre el piso o arriba. Conforme exploraban, descubrieron varios objetos naturales que eran apropiados para un libro de experiencia; Mary los escogió y los colocó en un bolsa grande.

Joan entonces preparó las líneas simples de la historia en Braille y en letra impresa. Durante su siguiente reunión, Mary le ayudó a Joan a armar el libro. El proceso fue lento conforme Mary exploraba cada artículo del jardín, usando el lenguaje de signos para identificarlos y ayudando a colocarlos sobre la página. Mary pegó algunos de los objetos con cinta; más tarde, Joan preparó más montajes permanentes. Joan compuso algunas oraciones cortas en Braille al final de cada página. La última página se dejó para que Mary y Joan trabajaran juntas (véase el cuadro 4 abajo, "Mi Paseo por el Jardín") de Mary. Mary no sólo escogió las palabras para esta página, sino también ayudó a escribir las oraciones en el Braillewriter.

Al principio, el libro se guardó en un cuarto de recursos y se colocó sobre un estante para que Mary pudiera tomarlo fácilmente de manera independiente. Mary adoraba su libro y con frecuencia leía y exploraba las páginas, señalando con el dedo los artefactos. Más tarde, el maestro de salón de clases general le pidió que guardara su libro en su salón de clases, para que Mary pudiera leer durante el tiempo de lectura independiente del grupo. No resultó ser una sorpresa que otros alumnos del jardín de niños encontraran interesante el libro de experiencia táctil y disfrutaran compartiendo el tiempo de lectura con Mary y su libro. El maestro del salón de clases pronto pidió más libros. A los compañeros y a los adultos se les ha alentado a leer los libros en voz alta sólo cuando Mary está moviendo su mano sobre el Braille mientras su intérprete señala las palabras con su otra mano.


Cuadro 4

"Mi Paseo en el Jardín" por Mary

Cubierta del Título: "Mi Paseo en el Jardín" por Mary Pegado en el centro de la cubierta hay varios guijarros del camino sobre el que anduvo Mary.

Página 1: Oración en Braille en la parte inferior de la página que dice: "Fui a dar un paseo por el jardín escolar. Encontré 1 pieza de corteza de árbol. "Pegado en el centro de la página hay una pieza grande de corteza de árbol.

Página 2: Oración en Braille "Sobre el piso había 3 piedras. Cuéntalas conmigo." 3 piedras, una pequeña, una mediana y un grande, pegadas sobre esta página.

Página 3: Oración en Braille, "Tengo 4 ramas de un árbol." Acomodadas en tamaño creciente había 4 ramas de varios árboles.

Página 4: Oración en Braille: "Levanté 3 hojas, una grande, una mediana y una pequeña." En tamaño descendente, tres hojas diferentes se pegadaron en el centro de la página.

Página 5: Oración en Braille: "Acaricié a un pequeño conejo." En una bolsa de plástico Zip-lock pegado al centro de la página había un conejo de peluche sobre el piso cerca de una jaula para conejo.

Página 6: Oración en Braille: "Cogí un flor." Una flor de un arbusto se anexó al centro de la página.

Página 7: Oración en Braille: "Me divertí caminando con la Srta. Joan" Engrapado en la página había un elástico de la manija de un bastón desechado como el usado por Mary.


OTROS LIBROS DE EXPERIENCIA TÁCTIL

Los compañeros también han estado involucrados en los libros de experiencia táctil que otros alumnos disfrutan en los casos de Joan. Uno de sus favoritos es un libro intitulado, "Things for My Hair" (véase el cuadro 5 abajo, "Cosas para Mi Cabello"). Este libro tiene 10 páginas con objetos grandes pegados con Velcro para removerlos y reemplazarlos con facilidad, así como objetos pequeños colocados en bolsas Zip-lock. Aunque los alumnos pequeños con impedimentos visuales no participaron en la confección de este libro, han disfrutado al colocar las peinetas, los lazos, los prendedores y los "scrunchies" en su propio cabello, así como en los cabellos de sus compañeros y maestros.

Otra maestra creativa, Alysa Crooke de Pensacola, Florida, también utilizó un tema de cabello para describir un viaje de campo realizado por uno de sus alumnos a un salón de bellezas local (véase el cuadro 6 abajo, "El Peinado de Chloe"). Los siguientes son otros dos libros que hemos visto:

Mi Cuarto de Baño—Repetido al final de cada página de este libro está el texto: "En mi cuarto de baño hay…" Los artefactos incluyen jabón, cepillo de dientes, hilo dental, una muestra de pasta de dientes, cotonetes, un sostén para cola de caballo y una pequeña pieza de toalla.Cosas en el Bolso de Mamá—Este libro estaba guardado en un gran bolso de paja. Tiene 7 páginas y todos los artículos son removibles para su fácil exploración y manipulación. Los objetos incluyen una caja compacta, un bloc de notas de espiral pequeño, una tarjeta de crédito, un lápiz de labios y un monedero cerrado con Velcro en el que se había colocado algunas monedas y un billete de un dólar. El texto en cada página decía: "Miré en el bolso de Mamá y encontré…"


Cuadro 5

Cosas para Mi Cabello

Cubierta del Título: "Cosas para Mi Cabello" Se agregó un cepillo para el cabello a la cubierta con Velcro.

Página 1: "Champú para limpiar mi cabello. Acondicionador para volverlo suave." Se agregaron pequeños recipientes de viaje llenos con un poco de champú/acondicionador al centro de la página con Velcro.

Página 2: "Un cepillo y peines para mi cabello." Se pegaron dos cepillos y un cepillo pequeño a la página con Velcro. Un cepillo grande se pegó a una cuerda y se colgó fuera del libro.

Página 3: "Rizadores de pelo para rizar mi pelo." Se colocaron rizadores de varios tamaños y marcas en una pequeña bolsa de plástico. La bolsa se amarró a la parte superior de la página con Velcro.

Página 4: "Peinetas grandes y pequeñas conservaron mi cabello en su lugar." Se colocaron peinetas de varios tipos y tamaños en una bolsa y ésta se amarró a la parte superior de la página con Velcro.

Página 5: "Algunos pasadores mantienen mi pelo en su lugar." Se colocaron pasadores grandes, pequeños y medianos en una bolsa que se amarró a la página.

Página 6: "Las ligas para cola de caballo mantienen mi pelo en una cola de caballo." Lo mismo que las páginas 4 y 5.

Página 7: "Peinetas mantienen mi pelo hacia atrás." Lo mismo que en las páginas 4 y 5.

Página 8: "Bandas elásticas para la cabeza mantienen al cabello lejos de mi cara." Lo mismo que en las páginas 4 y 5


Cuadro 6

El Peinado de Chloe

La Sra. Margarte le llamó a Chloe y le dijo, "Por favor ven acá, ahora tengo tiempo para hacerte un peinado."

Chloe estaba entusiasmada. Empezó a retorcerse. Tenía que esperar a una dama que se hacía una permanente.

"Vamos a usar un peine para cepillar tu bello cabello. Usemos un pasador. Te vamos a cepillar tu cabello dos veces.

"Las Sra. Margaret, dijo, "Ya sé. Vamos a ponerte unos rizos. Este peinado se ve maravilloso en niñas pequeñas."

"¿Qué pasadores te gustaría llevar? Tienes buen gusto. Se ven fantásticos con tu cabello."

En seguida, le pintaron y barnizaron las uñas a Chloe. La Sra. Margarte dijo, "Muy bonito." Chloe sólo sonrió.

Chloe era buena, así que obtuvo una recompensa… Una paleta de mantequilla y ron, que le encantó comerse.

Las Sra. Margarte dijo, "Estás lista. Es hora de pagar."

"Gracias, Sra. Margaret. Tuve un día muy divertido."


BENEFICIOS

Los libros de experiencia táctil ofrecen varios beneficios para los alumnos con impedimentos visuales. Debido a que describen experiencias personales, los niños piden que les sean leídos, memorizan su contenido con facilidad y están dispuestos a pretender leerlos en voz alta para los adultos que los escuchan. Se dominan las habilidades de libros tempranos, grafema-fonema.

Los libros de experiencia táctil también pueden utilizarse para presentarles a los niños con impedimentos visuales algunas oportunidades de practicar otras habilidades importantes, incluyendo aquellas en el dominio motor. Un niño de 2 años que está totalmente ciego aprendió la difícil habilidad de abrir una bolsa de papel y colocar un objeto en ella cada día que soplaba el viento. Casi todos los alumnos pequeños con los que he utilizado los libros de experiencia táctil han aprendido la manera de abrir y de cerrar las bolsas Zip-lock, habilidades a las que no habían sido acostumbrados previamente. Para muchos otros, la práctica motora adicional les ha sido proporcionada al remover objetos del fuerte Velcro, desde colocar pasadores en el cabello de sus amigos, hasta abrir la tapa de un tubo de pasta de dientes. Aunque aparentemente son muy rudimentarios, éstas son exactamente las clases de habilidades que los adultos asumen que los niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales están aprendiendo y se sorprenden cuando no las tienen al entrar a la escuela.

De manera similar, los libros de experiencia táctil pueden utilizarse para reforzar los conceptos espaciales, temporales y numéricos. Pueden facilitar la expansión significante del lenguaje de las habilidades sociales y de la percepción táctil.

Cuando describimos la creación y el uso de libros de experiencia táctil a los padres de niños con impedimentos visuales significativos, nos encontramos con muchos padres que sorprenden al pensar que pueden no estar familiarizados con artículos comunes encontrados en sus casas, ni cómo tales artículos se utilizan y cómo los comparan con otro. Hemos usado estas pláticas como oportunidades para ayudar a los padres a entender mejor el impacto de impedimento visual en el desarrollo y el aprendizaje y, consecuentemente, para apreciar la importancia crítica de involucrar activamente a los niños en los acontecimientos sencillos que ocurren a su alrededor.

PRECAUCIONES

Aunque los libros de experiencia táctil parecen sencillos de hacer, su creación requiere tanto de tiempo como de planeación cuidadosa, especialmente si se involucra al niño en la recolección de artefactos y en la fabricación del libro. Se recomienda separar la tarea en distintas etapas para mantener el interés de los niños pequeños.

Los padres y los maestros de educación general que han trabajado con nosotros no han estado entusiasmados sobre incluir artefactos que puedan ocasionar un desorden, como champú, pasta de dientes o lápiz labial. Aunque tendemos a favorecer estos tipos de artefactos porque los alumnos con impedimentos visuales han tenido pocas oportunidades de experimentar con ellos en otros contextos, reconocemos el problema potencial. En la historia del bolso descrita previamente, se decidió sustituir con un lápiz claro el lápiz de labios después de que el maestro se quejó de los alumnos manchados. Una solución al problema consiste en poner sólo pequeñas porciones de líquido en los contenedores para que cualquier derrame que ocurra sea lo suficientemente pequeño y pueda limpiarse con facilidad (por el mismo alumno, esperamos).

Finalmente, los objetos incluidos en los libros para los niños muy pequeños no deben presentar el riesgo de asfixia si es que se ponen en la boca del niño. Para los infantes y los niños muy pequeños, será necesaria la supervisión de los adultos cuando aquellos lean de manera independiente algunos de los libros de experiencia táctil.

REFLEXIONES FINALES

Los libros de experiencia táctil pueden apoyar el desarrollo de la alfabetización emergente de niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales de diversas maneras. Cuando los libros de experiencia táctil se pongan a disposición de los lectores tempranos, los alumnos practican:

Dar vuelta a las páginas. Orientar los libros.Explorar objetos.Usar los movimientos de mano asociados con el Braille.Experimentar el placer de la lectura independiente.

Al mismo tiempo, estos niños tienen la oportunidad de ver la relación entre las palabras que describen las actividades en las que se involucran y las historias que leen —un prerrequisito para leer. También ganan experiencia con la escritura y con los símbolos del lenguaje escrito que estarán utilizando en la escuela.

También hemos visto cómo los libros de experiencia táctil apoyan la inclusión social de los niños de preescolar con impedimentos visuales en los salones de clases de educación general. Los niños con impedimentos visuales tienen historias significantes de las cuales escogen durante el tiempo de lectura y pueden compartir dichas historias con otros, tanto como un "lector" competente, como un escucha.

Lamb (1995) observó que los alumnos con algún impedimento visual no experimentan la misma inmersión en la literatura que los niños con visión. Swenson (1999) está de acuerdo, notando que "debido a la escasez de materiales en Braille, los niños ciegos o que tienen visión baja…no participan de manera automática en…el aprendizaje de alfabetización [temprana] En vez de ello, su ‘inmersión en Braille’debe ser deliberadamente orquestada por los maestros y parientes" (p. 11). La adición de libros de experiencia táctil a los libreros de los niños pequeños con impedimentos visuales es un "instrumento" importante de dicha orquestación.

REFERENCIAS

Anderson, R. D, Hiebert, E. H., Scott, J. A., & Wilkinson, I. A. (1985). Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, DC: National Academy of Education, National Institute of Education.

Clay, M. M. (1991). Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann Education.

Ferrell,K. A. (1997). Preface. What is it that is different about a child with blindness or visual impairment? In P. Crane, D. Cuthbertson, K. A. Kerrell, & H. Scherb (Eds.), Equals in partnership. Basic rights for families of children with blindness or visual impairment (pp. v-vii). Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind and the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.

Ferrell, K. A. (2000). Growth and development of young children. In M. C. Holbrook & A. J. Koenig (Eds.), Foundations of education (2nd ed.). Volume 1: History and theory of teaching children and youths with visual impairments (pp. 111-134). New York: AFB Press.

Finello, K. M., Hanson, N. H., & Kekelis, L. S. (1992). Cognitive focus: Developing cognition, concepts, and language in young blind and visually impaired children. In R. L. Pogrund, D. L. Fazzi, & J. S. Lampert (Eds.), Early focus: Working with young blind and visually impaired children and their families (pp. 34-49). New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Handel, R. D. (1999). Building family literacy in an urban community. New York: New York Teachers College Press.

Harley, R. K., Truan, M. B., & Sanford, L. D. (1997). Communication skills for visually impaired learners: Braille, print, and listening skills for students who are visually impaired (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.

Koenig, A. J., & Farrenkopf, C. (1997). Essential experience to undergird the early development of literacy. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 91(1), 14-24.

Lamb, G. (1995). Fingerprints: A whole language approach to Braille literacy. Manurewa, Auckland, NZ: Homal Vision Education Centre.

Miller, D. D. (1985). Reading comes naturally: A mother and her blind child’s experi-ences. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 79(1), 1-4.

Newbold, S. (2000). Emergent literacy for young blind children. Phoenix, AZ: FBC Publications.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2000). Family literacy. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research, Volume III (pp. 853-870). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Rex, E. J., Koenig, A. J., Wormsley, D. P., & Baker, R. L. (1994). Foundations of Braille literacy. New York: AFB Press.

Sawyer, W. E., & Comer, D. E. (1996). Growing up with literature. Albany, NY: Delmar.

Snow, C. F., Burns, M. S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Stratton, J. M., & Wright, S. (1991). On the way to literacy: Early experiences for visually impaired children. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Swenson, A. M. (1999). Beginning with Braille: Firsthand experiences with a balanced approach to literacy. New York: AFB Press.

Wormsley, D. P. (1997). Fostering emergent literacy. In D. P. Wormsley & F. M. D’Andrea (Eds.), Instructional strategies for Braille literacy (pp.17-55). New York: AFB Press.

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Sandra Lewis, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Program in Visual Impairment, College of Education, Florida State University, and Joan Tolla, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Tift and Irwin County Schools, Georgia.

Reprinted from Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 22-28, Jan/Feb 2003, with permission from the Council for Exceptional Children, www.cec.sped.org.

Editor's notes: Some graphic elements of the original article were not reproduced.

Dr. Sandra Lewis will discuss this topic in more detail at Texas Focus 2003, June 12-13 in San Antonio. Address correspondence to Sandra Lewis, Professor and Coordinator of Program in Visual Disabilities, Department of School of Teacher Education, Florida State University, 115 Wescott Bldg, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1480 .


What do very young children learn about reading?

According to many studies on developmental learning (see Box 1 below: "What Does the Literature Say?"), young children develop an appreciation that "reading" activities in which they engage are related to the words they speak and hear, and are further connected to the written symbols of our language. They observe others reading and writing within functional contexts and meaningful activities. Further, they develop important basic concepts about reading materials (see Box 2 below, "Book Concepts").

But what about children whose vision is limited, or children who are blind? How do they participate in early reading activities? This article explores ways that educators, parents, and caregivers can ensure that all young children have a chance to learn to read.


Box 1

What Does the Literature Say About Learning to Read?

Recommendations for facilitating the early literacy experiences of young children include the following:

  • Providing a print-rich environment (Clay, 1991; Handel, 1999; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).
  • Modeling reading behavior (Handel, 1999; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).
  • Reading aloud to even the youngest infants and toddlers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985; Purcell-Gates, 2000; Sawyer & Comer, 1996).

In fact, being read to may be the most important factor in preparing a child to become a good reader (Anderson et al., 1985).

Emergent Literacy. The phase of reading development during which infants and toddlers begin to become familiar with written language and the process of learning to read and write is known as emergent literacy (Harley, Truan, & Sanford, 1997; Wormsley, 1997).


Box 2

Book Concepts

Books are generally made of paper, but may also be made of other materials such as cloth or plastic.Books contain pages to be turned one at a time; pages are numbered.Books may have pictures and words written on the pages.Pictures resemble familiar objects.Pictures and books have a top and bottom, front and back.Books give information and pleasure.Language is constant on each page.Language can be remembered and related to specific pages or pictures.Information presented in books stimulates the child's own related ideas.Printed symbols tell the reader what to say.Printed symbols are read from left to right and from top to bottom.

Source: Adapted from Communication skills for visually impaired learners (2nd ed.), by R. K. Harley, M. B. Truan, & L. D. Sanford, Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1997.


Literacy Needs of Children With Visual Impairments

Obtaining access to the written symbols of language and observing adults and peers modeling reading and writing are not easily achieved for children with significant visual impairments. Visual impairment can directly interfere with the observation of symbols and events that are key to the development of early literacy skills. Many educators and researchers have discussed ways to purposefully introduce these young children to Braille and print and to inform them of reading and writing activities of others (Harley et al., 1997; Swenson, 1999; Wormsley, 1997).

An even more significant issue related to emergent literacy for young children with visual impairments is the development of meaningful concepts through essential life experiences (Finello, Hanson, & Kekelis, 1992). Because children with visual impairments are restricted in their frequent, spontaneous, incidental access to the things and events in their world, their information about these items is limited, inconsistent, or fragmented (Ferrell, 1997).

In addition, a key learning characteristic of children with visual impairments is learning from part to whole. Because their perception is limited to what can be felt by the hand or seen within a limited visual field, children with visual impairments often have difficulty understanding the "gestalt" of an experience (Ferrell, 2000). A sighted child can frequently observe from a distance all of the objects that are stored in the desk drawer, are pulled out of the cabinet to wash the car, or are associated with a bath; but the child with visual impairment may not have had the same experiences or understanding. As a result, many children with visual impairments do not bring to the emergent literacy process the same kind and quality of information that young children with good vision do. Children with visual impairments may not understand what others read to them and what they are expected to read themselves (Koenig & Farrenkopf, 1997).

Illustrations in Books for Young Readers

Children with typical vision have an added advantage in the process of learning to read over young children who are blind or who have significant visual impairment. Sighted children can learn about things even if they have had no direct contact with themanimals, events, people, and objectsexcept through the illustrations in their books. The thousands of books published for emergent readers almost always include illustrations or pictures. These illustrations not only introduce children to information with which they may be unfamiliar, but these pictures facilitate understanding of the text. "Illustrations play a major role in enriching the story line, adding humor and intrigue, giving instant clues to what the story is about and enabling the reader to reconstruct the story line (often without reference to the text)" (Lamb, 1995, p. 7).

Illustrations also provide the bridge between listening and early reading behaviors (see Box 3 below, "Early Reading Behaviors"). Children only gradually become aware of the text. At first, they use the illustrations as prompts to recall the meaning and words of the story.


Box 3

Early Reading Behaviors

  • Child pretends to "read" storybooks; may run finger along printed text.
  • Child associates some letters with their representative sounds.
  • Child recognizes key words in familiar stories
  • Child enjoys listening to story.
  • Child talks about the pictures.
  • Child completes familiar lines in story based on memory.
  • Child uses physical and visual cues surrounding print to make up story.

Tactile Illustrations

For young children who are blind or who have severe visual impairments, the visual aspects of books written for emergent readers present a significant problem. The obvious solution to this accessibility issue is the use of raised line drawings in conjunction with Braille text. Interpretation of raised line drawings, however, is a far more difficult task than is recognition and identification of pictures. Raised line drawings attempt to present the 3-dimensional world in two dimensions. Although we can visually see the relationship, a circle is really very unlike the way a ball feels; the outline of a birthday cake bears no resemblance to its tactile reality. Similarly, the outline of the "Cat in the Hat" holding a fish cannot be easily related to the outline of the Cat sitting in a chair. The details and constancy that make even abstract illustrations so identifiable visually cannot be reproduced in a tactile form.

Another solution that frequently has been recommended is to create "story boxes" (Newbold, 2000), or "book bags" (Miller, 1985; Stratton & Wright, 1991; Wormsley, 1997). These items are similar in that objects related to either a published or unpublished story are used as illustrative props to bring meaning to the story. Miller, the mother of a child who is blind, first described her creative use of book bags, in which she stored objects mentioned in commercially published books. Miller and her children dramatized events in the stories they read using these objects. Others have recommended keeping the objects in a bag or a box, to stimulate recognition and discussion as they are handled and explored by the young child with visual impairment as the adult reads (Stratton & Wright, 1991; Wormsley, 1997).

Newbold's (2000) story boxes were designed to address the problems young children with visual impairments often have in relating their experiences to the act of reading. She recommended that simple stories about a child's experiences be written on note cards and included in a box with mementos from the event. The adult and child examine the objects together as the adult reads the story, which incorporates people and events that are familiar to the child.

Neither book bags nor story boxes address the need, for children who are blind, to be exposed to books on which the text and the objects or activities described by that text are presented on the same page. "Tactile experience books" can meet this need. In tactile experience books, artifacts from an event experienced by the child are actually incorporated onto the pages of a simple, sturdy book. Each page also includes Braille and print text. Adults using these books with young children can encourage the association of words that are read with Braille and the use of appropriate hand movements during story reading. Children can use these books independently; they can turn to a page, tactually explore the artifact attached to the page, and pretend to read the story aloud. Children with more experiences with these types of books can begin to recognize specific words based on their length, position in the text, or the letters with which they start or end.

A teacher assists a student in reading a tactile experience book

Making Tactile Experience Books

Selecting topics for tactile experience books is as easy as examining the objects that are part of the environments in which students with visual impairments spend time. Events can be planned specifically to collect artifacts for a book, or artifacts can be collected as part of a naturally occurring event, such as a trip to a baseball game or an investigation of the school grounds. Ideally, the child participates in these collection activities, collecting and putting aside the objects to be used later in the book.

Regardless of the child's involvement in his or her collection, artifacts must be items with which the child has come in contact tactually. Using car keys to represent going for a ride will not be appropriate unless the child has in some way used the keys, perhaps to unlock the car door. Using objects that the adult associates with an event, but which are unfamiliar to the child, is a common mistake of inexperienced bookmakers. In addition, artifacts used in the book must be realnot miniature representations of an object. Miniatures do not provide the same detail for the tactual learner that they provide to the visual learner. Thinking again of representing a ride in a car, a toy car would not be an appropriate artifact, unless perhaps, the child played with the toy car during the ride. In general, a toy car is very different from the car experience of a child who is blind or who has low vision. A better representative object might be a swatch of fabric from the child's car seat or the seat belt buckle that the child has helped to fasten.

Preferred books are those that are easily handled by the child. Heavy cardboard should be used for the cover and pages, which should be securely fastened. We have found that metal rings are more durable than ribbon or string used to bind the pages. It is best for only one object (or category of object) to be placed on the page. Because an object that has been glued to the page creates a different experience than the same object held in the hand, we recommend that artifacts be affixed to the pages using loop fasteners (Velcro©) whenever possible, so that the child can experience them in three dimensions. Another way to assure that objects can be fully accessed by the child is to store them in Zip-lock bags that have been glued or stapled to the page. Large objects, which can add bulk to the book and make it unmanageable by small hands, can be attached by a string to a particular page and stored outside of the pages, to be pulled nearer by the child when that page is read.

Another method of incorporating a large object, such as the big bow from a birthday present, is to place the item on the cover. The child can use this artifact to identify the book and distinguish it from others in his or her collection. Covers don't need to be fancy. Although it is visually meaningful to have a book about Jim's trip on the city bus cut out in the shape of a bus, this shape doesn't provide the same stimulus for the student with visual impairment. Keeping the transfer pass that the driver handed to the child as he or she boarded the bus and gluing it to the cover would be a more meaningful reminder of the trip.

Sighted children can easily identify the location of the text on the page, so its placement is not critical. The young reader who is blind is helped if the text can be found at a predictable location on the page. The Braille text should be created on heavy Braille paper in one continuous line. Words should not be cut apart and placed on the page as single units or phrases. The page of text should not be pasted to the page, since the adhesive can reduce the sharpness of the Braille dots. We recommend stapling the text to the page, using Brailleables®, or gluing only the edges and corners of the page on which the text is Brailled. Note: For many young children with visual impairments, the decision regarding use of Braille or print for instruction has not been made. Therefore, it makes sense to include high-quality print versions of the text as well. The print can be created with a word processor on the page before the Braille is affixed. Even for children who are blind, print included on the page will help parents, peers, and others share in reading the story.

Determination of whether the Braille text should be created in alphabetic Braille (where the Braille matches the print exactly) or in Grade II Braille (the format of Braille used in commercially published materials, including schoolbooks) is based on many factors. The parents, early interventionist, and teacher of students with visual impairments, if one has been assigned, should make this decision jointly.

Books published for young children with vision feature text that is simple and often repetitive. This repetition helps the emerging reader to memorize the text, so that attention can be placed on correspondence between the text and spoken words. This same practice can be used in tactile experience books published for children with visual impairments. Though it is tempting to write long descriptive passages, young children benefit when there are few words on the page. They also benefit when phrases are repeated, such as "In my bathroom, there is a ----," or "When we fixed the doorknob, we used-----."

Mary's Tactile Experience Book

Mary, who is totally deaf and blind, is in kindergarten in her local school district. A team of educators, including the second author, Joan, who is an orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist, provide support services to Mary. O&M specialists generally work on development of skills associated with travel, including use of the cane, body image, spatial concepts, sensory perception, and environmental-recognition skills. Joan decided that an "experience book" would be an ideal vehicle for reinforcing concepts of travel with Mary and approached the speech-language pathologist serving this student about working together on the project.

The two adults met with Mary and her interpreter in the school's courtyard garden and explored the area, which included flowers, trees, a gazebo, and even rabbits. Since Mary was unfamiliar with any garden, questions such as "What do you think might be in a garden?" were not helpful. Therefore, the adults asked Mary to move around the garden and look for items to the left or right, on the ground, or up high. As they explored, they discovered various natural items that were appropriate for an experience book; Mary picked these up and placed them in a large bag.

Joan then prepared the simple lines of the story in Braille and print. During their next meeting, Mary assisted Joan in the assembly of the book. The process went slowly as Mary explored each garden item, used sign language to identify it, and helped position it on the page. Mary affixed the items with tape; later, Joan prepared more permanent mountings. Joan arranged short Braille sentences at the bottom of each page. The last page was left for Mary and Joan to work on together (see Box 4 below, "My Garden Walk" by Mary). Mary not only chose the words for this page, but also assisted in writing the sentences on the Braillewriter.

At first, the book was kept in a resource room and left on a bookshelf so that Mary could easily retrieve it independently. Mary loved her book and read and explored the pages often, fingering the artifacts. Later, the general education classroom teacher asked to keep the book in her classroom, so that Mary could read it during the class's independent reading time. Not surprisingly, the other kindergarten students also found the tactile experience book to be interesting; and they enjoyed sharing reading time with Mary and her book. The classroom teacher soon requested more books. Peers and adults have been encouraged to read the books aloud only when Mary is moving one hand across the Braille while her interpreter signs the words into her other hand.


Box 4

"My Garden Walk" by Mary

Title cover: "My Garden Walk" by Mary: Glued to the center of the cover page were several pebbles from the path on which Mary had walked.

Page 1: Brailled sentence at the bottom of the page read. "I went for a walk in the school garden. I found 1 piece of tree bark." Glued to the center of the page was a large piece of tree bark.

Page 2: Brailled sentence "On the ground were 3 stones. Count them with me." 3 stones, one small, medium, and large, were glued onto this page.

Page 3: Braille sentence, "I have 4 limbs from a tree." Arranged in increasing size were 4 limbs from various trees.

Page 4: Brailled sentence, "I picked 3 leaves, one large, one medium, and one small." In descending size, three different leaves were glued onto the center of the page.

Page 5: Brailled sentence, "I petted one bunny rabbit." In a plastic Zip-lock bag glued to the center of the page was bunny fur found on the ground near the bunny's cage.

Page 6: Brailled sentence, "I picked a flower." One flower from a bush was attached to the center of the page.

Page 7: Brailled sentence, "I had fun walking with Ms. Joan." Stapled to this page was the elastic from the handle of a discarded cane like the one used by Mary.


Other Tactile Experience Books

Peers have also been involved in the tactile experience books enjoyed by other students on Joan's caseload. One of the favorites is a book titled, "Things for My Hair" (see Box 5 below). This book consists of 10 pages with large items attached with Velcro for easy removal and replacement and small items placed in Zip-lock bags. Even though the young students with visual impairments did not participate in making this book, they have enjoyed putting bobby pins, bows, clips, and scrunchies in their own hair, as well as into the hair of their peers and teachers.

Another creative teacher, Alysa Crooke of Pensacola, Florida, also used a hair theme to describe a field trip taken by one of her students to a local beauty parlor (see Box 6 below, "Chloe's Makeover"). The following are two other books we have seen:

  • My Bathroom - Repeated at the bottom of each page of this book is the text, "In my bathroom there is...." The artifacts included were soap, toothbrush, dental floss, trial size toothpaste, Q-tips, comb, ponytail holder, and a small piece of washcloth.
  • Things in Mommy's Purse - This book was stored in a large straw purse. It consisted of 7 pages, and all items were removable for easy exploration and manipulation. Objects included compact case, comb, small spiral notepad, credit card, pen, lipstick, and Velcro-closed wallet in which coins and a dollar bill had been placed. The text on each page read, "I looked in Mommy's purse and found...."

Box 5

Things for My Hair

Title Cover: "Things for My Hair" A hairbrush was attached to cover with Velcro.

Page 1: "Shampoo to clean my hair. Conditioner to make it soft." Small travel-size containers filled with a little shampoo/conditioner attached at the center of the page with Velcro.

Page 2: "A brush and combs for my hair." Two combs and one small brush were attached to the page with Velcro. A large brush was attached to a string and hung outside of the book.

Page 3: "Hair rollers to help curl my hair." Various sizes and makes of rollers were placed into a small plastic bag. The bag was fastened at the top of the page with Velcro.

Page 4: "Large and small barrettes hold my hair in place." Various sizes and types of barrettes were placed in a bag, and the bag was fastened at the top of the page with Velcro.

Page 5: "Bobby pins hold my hair in place." Large, small, and medium-size bobby pins were placed in a bag that was attached to the page.

Page 6: "Ponytail holders keep my hair in a ponytail." Same as pages 4 and 5.

Page 7: "Clincher combs keep my hair back." Same as pages 4 and 5.

Page 8: "Headbands keep my hair out of my face." Same as pages 4 and 5.


Box 6

Chloe's Makeover

Ms. Margaret called Chloe and said, "Please come over, I have time today to give you a makeover."

Chloe was excited. She started to squirm. She had to wait on a lady getting a perm.

"Let's use a comb to comb your hair nice. Let's use a pick. We'll comb your hair twice."

Ms. Margaret said, "I know. Let's give your hair curls. This hairstyle looks wonderful on little girls."

"Which barrettes would you like to wear? You have good taste. They look great in your hair."

Next, Chloe got her nails painted and filed. Ms. Margaret said, "Beautiful." Chloe just smiled.

Chloe was good, so she got a treat ...A butter rum sucker, she was happy to eat.

Ms. Margaret said, "You're done. It's time to pay."

"Thank you, Ms. Margaret. I had such fun today."


Benefits

Tactile experience books offer a host of benefits to students with visual impairments. Because they describe personal experiences, children request that they be read, memorize their content with ease, and are eager to pretend to read them aloud to listening adults. Early book skills are mastered, grapheme-phoneme connections are initiated, and the pleasure of reading with adults and peers is reinforced.

Tactile experience books also can be used to present children with visual impairments opportunities to practice other important skills, including those in the motor domain. One 2-year-old who is totally blind

learned the difficult skill of opening a paper bag and placing an item in it on a windy day. Almost all of the young students with whom we have used tactile experience books have learned how to open and close Zip-lock bags, skills to which they previously had not been introduced. For many others, further fine motor practice has been provided in removing items from strong Velcro, from fastening barrettes in the hair of their friends, and from turning open the cap on a tube of toothpaste. Although seemingly very rudimentary, these are exactly the kinds of skills that adults assume young children with visual impairments are learning, and are surprised that they do not have when they enter school.

Similarly, tactile experience books can be used to reinforce spatial, temporal, and number concepts. They can facilitate meaningful expansion of language, social skills, and tactual perception.

As we described the creation and use of tactile experience books to parents of children with significant visual impairments, we found that many parents are surprised to think that their children might be unfamiliar with common items found in their home, how these items are used, and how they compare with one another. We have used these discussions as opportunities to help parents better understand the impact of visual impairment on development and learning, and consequently, to appreciate the critical importance of actively involving children in the simple events that occur around them.

Cautions

Although tactile experience books seem simple to make, their creation requires both time and careful planning, especially if the child is involved in the collection of the artifacts and the making of the book. Breaking the task into several components is recommended to maintain the interest of the young child.

The parents and general education teachers who have worked with us have not been enthusiastic about including artifacts that can cause a mess, such as shampoo, toothpaste, or lipstick. Although we tend to favor these kinds of artifacts because students with visual impairments have such few opportunities to experience them in other contexts, we recognize the potential problem. In the purse story described previously, it was decided to substitute clear lip-gloss for the lipstick after a teacher complained of the messy students. Putting only small portions of liquid in containers is one solution to the problem, so that any spill that is created is small enough to easily clean (by the student, we would hope).

Finally, the objects included in books for very young readers must not present a choking hazard should they be put in the child's mouth. For infants and very young children, adult supervision when independently reading some tactile experience books may be necessary.

Final Thoughts

Tactile experience books can support the emergent literacy development of young children with visual impairments in a variety of ways. When tactile experience books are made available to early readers, these students practice

  • Turning pages.
  • Orienting books.
  • Exploring objects.
  • Using the hand movements associated with Braille.
  • Experiencing independent pleasure reading.

At the same time, these children have the opportunity to see the connection between words that describe the activities in which they engage and the stories that they read a key prerequisite for reading. They also gain experiences with writing and the symbols of the written language that they will be using in school.

We have also seen how tactile experience books support the social inclusion of preschool children with visual impairments in their general education classrooms. Children with visual impairments have meaningful stories from which to choose during reading time, and can share these stories with others, both as a competent "reader" and as a listener.

Lamb (1995) observed that students with visual impairment do not experience the same immersion in literature that children with vision do. Swenson (1999) agreed, noting that "because of the scarcity of Braille materials, children who are blind or have very low vision...do not automatically participate in...[early] literacy learning. Instead, their `Braille immersion' must be deliberately orchestrated by teachers and parents" (p. 11). The addition of tactile experience books to the bookshelves of young children with visual impairments is an important "instrument" of that orchestration.


References

Anderson, R. D, Hiebert, E. H., Scott, J. A., & Wilkinson, I. A. (1985). Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, DC: National Academy of Education, National Institute of Education.

Clay, M. M. (1991). Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann Education.

Ferrell, K. A. (1997). Preface. What is it that is different about a child with blindness or visual impairment? In P. Crane, D. Cuthbertson, K. A. Kerrell, & H. Scherb (Eds.), Equals in partnership. Basic rights for families of children with blindness or visual impairment (pp. v-vii). Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind and the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.

Ferrell, K. A. (2000). Growth and development of young children. In M. C. Holbrook & A. J. Koenig (Eds.), Foundations of education (2nd ed.). Volume 1: History and theory of teaching children and youths with visual impairments (pp. 111-134). New York: AFB Press.

Finello, K. M., Hanson, N. H., & Kekelis, L. S. (1992). Cognitive focus: Developing cognition, concepts, and language in young blind and visually impaired children. In R. L. Pogrund, D. L. Fazzi, & J. S. Lampert (Eds.), Early focus: Working with young blind and visually impaired children and their families (pp. 34-49). New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Handel, R. D. (1999). Building family literacy in an urban community. New York: New York Teachers College Press.

Harley, R. K., Truan, M. B., & Sanford, L. D. (1997). Communication skills for visually impaired learners: Braille, print, and listening skills for students who are visually impaired (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.

Koenig, A. J., & Farrenkopf, C. (1997). Essential experience to undergird the early development of literacy. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 91(1), 14-24.

Lamb, G. (1995). Fingerprints: A whole language approach to Braille literacy. Manurewa, Auckland, NZ: Homal Vision Education Centre.

Miller, D. D. (1985). Reading comes naturally: A mother and her blind child's experiences. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 79(1), 1-4.

Newbold, S. (2000). Emergent literacy for young blind children. Phoenix, AZ: FBC Publications.

Purcell-Gates, V. (2000). Family literacy. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research, Volume III (pp. 853-870). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Rex, E. J., Koenig, A. J., Wormsley, D. P., & Baker, R. L. (1994). Foundations of Braille literacy. New York: AFB Press.

Sawyer, W. E., & Comer, D. E. (1996). Growing up with literature. Albany, NY: Delmar.

Snow, C. F., Burns, M. S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Stratton, J. M., & Wright, S. (1991). On the way to literacy: Early experiences for visually impaired children. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Swenson, A. M. (1999). Beginning with Braille: Firsthand experiences with a balanced approach to literacy. New York: AFB Press.

Wormsley, D. P. (1997). Fostering emergent literacy. In D. P. Wormsley & F. M. D'Andrea (Eds.), Instructional strategies for Braille literacy (pp.17-55). New York: AFB Press. 27.

Jennifer Urosevic
Orientation And Mobility Instructor, Early Intervention Specialist
Canadian National Institute For The Blind

Lee-Anne Cross
Early Childhood Educator, Early Intervention Specialist
Canadian National Institute For The Blind

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Introduction

Concept development and sensory awareness begin in infancy and continue to develop throughout a child's life. They are intertwined in every part of one's life, whether as a preschooler learning left from right, as a child learning Braille, or as a teenager learning to use cardinal directions. When these skills are continuously reinforced in all aspects of a child's life, and throughout daily routines, the child will ultimately gain greater independence.

In our fast–paced society, it is tempting to search for the perfect toy which will teach children, while overlooking the many opportunities and tools which exist within our own homes and communities. The benefits of using household items and daily routines are many.

We need to provide activities and opportunities which are rich, varied, and which help to develop concepts and life skills. It is easy to begin to search for the ideal toy, flashy and bright, which will teach these skills. And certainly, these types of toys do have a place in a child's play. However, we need to question which type of activity the child will learn more from: an electronic toy which has only hard plastic textures, with sounds which are not meaningful except within the context of that toy, or household objects which the child will experience throughout daily activities.

For example, an electronic toy can teach a child to sort shapes, with sounds which correspond to a picture of an animal on each shape. These pictures or plastic shapes of animals are likely meaningless to a blind or visually impaired child, and thus the sounds may be meaningless too. Over-reliance on toys to develop concepts may lead to the risk of developing empty vocabulary and over-simplified concepts. In contrast, the child could use a cutlery tray and cutlery to sort; the sounds will be familiar, the shapes are more interesting and give more auditory feedback, the child can match as well as sort, count, and create sets (sequencing and pre-math.) The child may easily transfer this shape sorting to a functional task of setting the table. This activity could also involve a daily routine of washing and drying dishes, and setting the table. Differences in size and shape of utensils may also be discussed. The activity of sorting shapes thus becomes a life skill as well.

Use of household objects is more likely to be appropriate and respectful of a child's culture and circumstances. Some cultures continue to live a simple lifestyle, with an absence of modern technology. Families with lower incomes may feel pressure to spend money on the latest and greatest electronic toy if we inadvertently give them the impression that this is what their child needs. Sometimes the very fact that we, as professionals, are using a particular toy conveys a message that this is the best item to use. We need to be aware of the values and resources of each family. Use of their own household items and routines makes this easy and effective.

Families are now living extremely complicated lives, filled with many demands on their time and resources. Teaching through the use of daily routines allows learning opportunities to occur on a consistent and frequent basis. Transfer of skills from play situations to life skills will also occur more smoothly. And finally, using homemade materials is cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Professionals and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired continually seek new opportunities to teach and reinforce concepts and sensory skills to children. This document is intended to provide parents and professionals with hands–on activities and resources to enhance the development of concepts and sensory skills by using tools that are easily available. Toys and activities that will be described are homemade using inexpensive and accessible items. The advantages of using real objects (as opposed to toy representations) are many, as are the advantages of teaching through daily routines and opportunities.

We have drawn heavily on the approaches of Maria Montessori and Lilli Nielsen in the process of collecting the activities contained in this book.

This collection is merely a beginning: we have included a sampling of ideas which we believe to be most useful. There are an unlimited number of activities to be found or created. We have chosen a binder format so that you can easily add new activities to this collection.

Be creative, be imaginative, be safe and have fun!

The Montessori Approach

The Montessori approach to early childhood education makes use of items which promote life skills as well as skills in all developmental areas. Montessori activities are "hands on" tasks which provide a solid grounding for later abstractions. Because of the strong foundation laid, these more complex tasks are more fully understood and are not carried out as mere rote operations. Materials developed within the Montessori approach are simple, and often made of natural materials which are rich in sensory features.

The underlying principle in Montessori theory is that the learning capacity of a young child is fundamentally different from that of an adult. The difference is not merely the quantity that can be learned: unlike the adult the child appears able simply to absorb, without effort, through participating in an activity. The young child has an "absorbent mind," which lasts until the child is approximately six years of age.

The first phase of this absorbent mind period is from birth to three years; the Montessori theory emphasizes that this is the most formative time in a child's development. During this phase the child absorbs all available impressions in detail, and each impression is instantly incarnated into, and superimposed upon, all previous ones. The child responds most to human stimuli, especially the human voice.

Utilizing the surroundings as substance to absorb, the early absorbent mind helps create, at about age three, the child's basic human abilities.

In the second phase of the child's development, from age three to six, the absorbent mind continues to function but now appears to be more specific. The mind is focused on certain impressions gained through intentional interaction with the material as well as human environment. These new experiences integrate the abilities earlier created.

The Montessori method always starts with the concrete and gradually builds up to the abstract. For example, a child may begin by grouping and counting beads, and then progress to understanding literal and material sense, and what is meant by adding quantities, before proceeding to work with numbers themselves.

Maria Montessori had one aim: to assist the child's natural development. The end result of this development would be a self-sufficient, well-adjusted adult. Therefore, any assistance we offer to the child's development must, by definition, foster independence and self-sufficiency.

The Montessori approach fosters independence in two ways. First, it provides freedom and independence in learning. Second, it helps the child acquire tools for living: that is, the skills and abilities which give a person choices in life and which make one free from dependence on others.

Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Approach

Lilli Nielsen is a world-renowned educator of children who have visual impairment in addition to multiple disabilities. She has published numerous books, lectured all over the world, and completed scientific research on spatial relations in congenitally blind infants. Lilli Nielsen has developed an Active Learning Approach which emphasizes the use of household items for sensory stimulation and concept development.

Lillie Nielsen has stated that children who are at very young developmental levels cannot be "trained" or "taught." If we provide too much direction, and too much hand-over-hand assistance, we may teach children that only adults direct learning. We may teach them to be extremely passive, and to expect physical assistance. Instead, we need to provide activities and opportunities which are rich and which the child can explore independently. Lilli Nielsen's choice of materials is both cost-efficient and logical. Electronic toys certainly do have potential for learning, but their appeal is often fleeting. Household items are often rich in sensory features, they are inexpensive and readily available, and the range of items available is almost unlimited.

The main emphasis of the Active Learning Approach is on promoting independent interaction rather than passive participation. Children at very young developmental stages learn by doing; they need to initiate their own tasks and to explore independently. Adults must be willing to set up the environment and help to reinforce what the child has done rather than impose their own priorities. Lilli Nielsen also states that "Repetition, repetition and more repetition creates the necessary conditions for the beginning of experimentation with noises and the desire to experiment keeps alive the sense of curiosity, as well as giving the child even more experience patterns." (The Comprehending Hand, 1979.)

It is essential to have good understanding of a child's developmental level, and of the concepts involved in the task we are asking them to perform. For example, when we ask a child to sort blocks according to size, we are asking him to understand the concepts of same, different, large and small. Although the task appears simple, the concepts may be complex. Lilli Nielsen goes on to state, "Problems of this kind should at any rate not be given to the child except in connection with the handling of ordinary, real-life objects as met with in everyday situations." (The Comprehending Hand, 1979.)

"When the child is able to sort bricks, balls, etc., or articles of the same size but with different kinds of surfaces, then it would be meaningless to keep on exercising just that sorting ability. The ability to sort objects must be extended and combined with other tasks. For example: "˜Here are your jumpers-today you are going to put on the woolly one.' "˜Here are some forks and spoons. Put one fork and one spoon on each plate.' "˜Here are the rods. Take the wooden ones, they're the best ones to use for this game.' "˜Here's a basket with eggs. The larger ones we are going to use for hard-boiled eggs; the smaller ones are for baking. Take all the smaller ones because we are going to bake today.'" (The Comprehending Hand, 1979.)

The Active Learning Approach is one which emphasizes the need for materials and learning opportunities which directly relate to meaningful life skills.

Source Disclaimer

It is in no way our intent to claim "ownership" of these ideas. There are many creative and imaginative individuals working with young children. By choice or necessity, these individuals have learned to make something from nothing. This manual is a collection of activities we have encountered, or created ourselves over the years. It would be impossible to credit each activity, and thus we acknowledge that credit for this collection is shared among many persons.

Safety Disclaimer

While every effort has been made to suggest toys and activities which are safe for young children, there is no substitute for individual use of sound judgment. The toys and activities in this collection are suggestions, not recommendations. It is the reader's responsibility to use their own judgment and knowledge of safety when presenting activities. Children can be unpredictable, and close supervision is essential at all times. It is also essential that adults are aware of possible chemical contaminants or substances which may cause allergic reactions. This may include awareness of latex-containing objects (eg. erasers, balloons) and peanut products (eg. containers which may have contained, or been in contact with, peanut products.) The presenters accept no responsibility for damages resulting from the use of any activities included in this collection.

Nesting Boxes

Focus: concept of large, small, nesting, stacking.

Materials:

  • boxes of various sizes, with removeable lids
  • wallpaper/construction paper in several bold colours.

Procedure: Cover boxes and lids with wallpaper in matching colours (eg. large box and lid blue, smaller box and lid yellow, etc.). Child can match lids and boxes, nest boxes inside each other, stack boxes, hide items inside box.

CURLER CAN

Focus: tactile awareness, fine motor development, concept of matching size/shape, concept of in/out.

Materials:

  • coffee can with lid
  • scissors/ craft knife
  • several sizes of velcro-style curlers in bold colours

Procedure: Trace sizes of curlers onto the lid, and cut out with scissors or craft knife. Lid may be reinforced with duct tape on the underside. Child may then push curlers through the correct sized hole. Velcro curlers have an interesting texture and sounds, and will cling together.

Notes: you may vary this activity by covering blocks or thread spools with different textures, and cutting corresponding holes in the lid.

CEREAL BOX FELT BOARD

Focus: vision stimulation, letters, shapes, understanding of abstract pictures.

Materials:

  • empty cereal box
  • navy blue/black and white felt (8"x12")
  • felt scraps in bold colours
  • glue

Procedure: Glue the larger felt pieces onto the box; white on one side, black/navy blue on the other. Cut the felt scraps into shapes, letters or numbers. Be sure to choose colours which will contrast with the dark or light felt colours on the box. Store pieces inside the box when not in use.

Notes: You may also use a felt-covered box to demonstrate a Braille cell. On the white felt side, use a juice can lid (from a pull-tab an which is not sharp) to trace six circles onto the felt in the pattern of a Braille cell. Use fabric paint or hot glue to make a tactile and visual outline of each circle. Glue the "scratchy" side of velcro on to the back of six juice can lids, and use them as the dots when demonstrating the patterns of Braille letters.

SCENT BOTTLES

Focus: awareness of sense of smell, matching scents with pictures

Materials:

  • small containers (baby food jars, M&M tubes, etc.)
  • scented items (eg. peppermint, peanut butter, lemon,
  • coffee, shaving cream, cinnamon, etc.)
  • pictures of the above items.

Procedure: Place scented items in containers, and poke holes in lids. Child may smell each container, and verbally tell you what they smell, or match the corresponding picture. You may also discuss with the child where they may find these items/scents (eg. kitchen, bathroom, etc.)

FEEL AND TELL BOX

Focus: tactile discrimination, concept of matching.

Materials:

  • cereal box or shoe box with lid
  • felt (enough to cover top of box)
  • scraps of different textures (eg. wallpaper, sandpaper, fabric)
  • juice can lids from pull-tab cans (no sharp edges on lids)
  • glue

Procedure: Cut scraps into circles the size of the juice can lids. Glue scraps on, making two lids with each texture. On one lid of each pair, glue the "scratchy" side of velcro on to the back. The non-velcro=d lids go inside the box; their matching lids are placed on the felt on the outside of the box. The child may then reach inside and try to find the lids which match the ones on the outside of the box. You may wish to begin with a limited number of textures and choices, and gradually build up to a wider range of textures as well as textures which are more difficult to discriminate between.

TIN CAN WIND CHIME

Focus: auditory awareness, localizing sound, orientation

Materials:

  • 4 tin cans of various sizes, one end removed, and edges not sharp.
  • string
  • waterproof paint in bold colours
  • juice can lid (no sharp edges)

Procedure: Paint each can a different colour and allow to dry. String cans in order of size, with largest at the top. Overlap cans slightly so that the cans easily bump against each other. Hang the juice can lid from the bottom end of the string. Hang wind chime outside, and keep the location consistent. Help the child to explore his surroundings and then locate the sound of the wind chimes again.

COMPACT DISK MOBILES

Focus: vision stimulation

Materials:

  • elastic
  • plastic clothes hanger or laundry hanger
  • compact disks
  • yellow, black, white and red craft foam or felt
  • black marker

Procedure: Leave the shiny silver side of the compact disk uncovered; it will reflect lots of light and colour, especially when placed in sunlight. Cover the other side with contrasting colours of felt or craft foam. You may wish to create bold geometric patterns and faces which infants tend to be attracted to. You may string the disks so that they will reflect each other's patterns. Disks may be hung horizontally or vertically, depending on where the child will be positioned (ie. lying or sitting)

TOOTHBRUSH HOLDER RATTLE

Focus: sensory stimulation, wrist rotation, cause and effect

Materials:

  • travel case for toothbrush (choose one which is grooved or has an interesting texture
  • rice
  • glue

Procedure: place a few grains of dry rice into the case and securely glue shut. Encourage the child to explore the texture and sound of the rattle, and to move their hand in different ways to produce different sounds.

HOT WATER BOTTLES

Focus: sensory stimulation, concept of warm/cold, heavy/light

Materials:

  • small rubber hot water bottle

Procedure: fill the bottle with amounts of warm or cold water. Encourage the child to explore the texture and temperature of the bottle, and to make noises by rubbing their hands on the bottle. You can encourage mid-line play by placing the bottle on the child's tummy while encouraging them to explore with their hands. Some children find the weight of a water bottle to be comforting.

CAMPING BLANKET PLAY

Focus: sensory awareness, motivation to move and explore

Materials:

  • silver camping/car emergency blanket

Procedure: Camping blankets are durable, light and shiny. They are quite resistant to being ripped/bitten (but always closely supervise their use.) You may place the blanket on the floor under a child: any movement will cause an interesting noise and give the child immediate reward for moving. You may wish to use a flashlight to add visual stimulation/appeal: this may be helpful in encouraging a child to tolerate being on their tummy and raising their head. The blanket may be placed near the child's hands to encourage them to grasp and release, shake, etc. You may also hang a blanket flat against a wall to create an interesting vision stimulation area.

MARBLE MASSAGE

Focus: sensory awareness, relaxation

Materials:

  • marbles
  • Cloth bag

Procedure: place marbles into the cloth bag and securely sew the bag shut. You can now use the bag to massage a child's back, or to encourage them to manipulate the marbles through the cloth. Marbles have an interesting weight and sound. Supervise closely to ensure that no marbles have become loose and may be swallowed.

HAT BOX TOYS

Focus: visual and auditory stimulation, cause and effect

Materials:

  • small round (6" to 8" diameter) boxes in bold colours
  • elastic
  • compact disks
  • metal measuring spoons
  • glue

Procedure: Glue a compact disk to the inside of the top of the box, and thread elastic through so that the box lid hangs vertically. This will catch any breeze and will twist. With elastic, hang a few measuring spoons inside the bottom of the box, and hang the box vertically. This will create an appealing visual effect, as well as providing auditory feedback if the child touches the box. You may also place a large (too large to be swallowed) marble or a heavy ball inside a box, and securely seal the lid. Place the box on it's side and allow the child to roll it. The child will hear the marble moving inside the box, and the box will move in an interesting pattern. You may wish to add shiny stickers or geometric patterns to the box to increase visual appeal.

BEACHBALL STRETCH

Focus: upper body strength, cause and effect, visual and auditory stimulation

Materials:

  • brightly coloured beachball or balloons
  • dry rice
  • string

Procedure: Place several grains of dry rice into the balloon or beachball, and inflate. Hang the balloon from the ceiling, and encourage the child to reach up, hit the balloon, listen to the sound and try to aim for the balloon again.

SENSORY MITTENS

Focus: tactile stimulation, hand movement, body awareness

Materials:

  • various fabrics of different and distinct textures
  • thread
  • bells (optional)

Procedure: Cut fabric into rectangles large enough to fold over and completely cover a child's hand. Sew the fabric together with the texture on the inside, leaving one end open for the child to place their hand in. Children who are unable to grasp and hold objects can experience different textures by moving their fingers within the mittens. You may securely sew on bells to add auditory appeal, but be careful as this may pose a choking hazard.

SCOOTER BOARD

Focus: The child can lie on his stomach and push with his feet or pull with arms. This activity will enhance locomotion and develop gross motor skills.

Material:

  • square piece of wood at least 2 inches thick
  • 4 wheels
  • screws
  • sponge
  • felt or material (if needed)

Procedure: Glue the sponge onto the wood. Screw in the wheels, one at each corner. Cover sponge with felt or material.

RING AROUND THE BABY

Focus: sitting, trunk rotation, tactile exploration

Material:

  • two pieces of fabric, each two feet by six feet.
  • quilt batting
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • two cords, two feet long each
  • velcro

Procedure: Cut one piece of fabric to measure 5 feet 8 inches by one foot ten inches. Fold lengthwise, and sew along the long edge and one short edge to form a tube. Fill with quilt batting, or shredded foam/old nylons. The tube should be firm enough to offer support, but still be able to be bent into a curved shape. Sew the final seam shut. On the other piece of fabric, fold each short edge (wrong sides together) and sew, to create a casing for the cord to go through. Now fold the fabric lengthwise, right sides together, and sew along the long edge. Turn right side out. Insert cords through casing, pull ends shut and tie cords. Sew or glue Velcro to the top of the ring.

The tube can be bent into a circular shape. Child may sit or be propped within the ring. Interesting toys or objects may be attached with Velcro. This will encourage tactile exploration as well as trunk rotation as the child reaches for the objects.

CAUSE AND EFFECT BOARD

Focus: cause and effect, visual stimulation, hand strength and coordination

Materials:

  • 8" by 11" plywood, sanded smooth, with six holes drilled
  • heavy cord or rope
  • 2 matching plastic lids
  • 2 matching hair curlers
  • 2 large bells

Procedure: Make a hole in one plastic lid and knot one end of a 20" piece of cord. Thread the cord through the lid until the lid reaches the knot. Thread the opposite end of the rope through one hole in the plywood, so that the lid is at the front. Bring the rope back up through another hole, towards the front, and tie on the other lid. Repeat for the other two pairs of items. When the child pulls one item, the matching item will move in the opposite direction.

Notes: You may wish to paint the plywood a solid colour, and use highly contrasting colours of rope or items.

PAPERBAG KICKBALL

Focus: Provides an easy object for practicing kicking and throwing. Encourages large motor coordination, eye hand/eye foot coordination.

Materials:

  • medium size paper bag
  • newspaper
  • stapler
  • masking tape

Procedure: Tear newspaper up into strips or pieces. Stuff newspaper into paper bag until it is about ¾ full, compacting so it forms a roundish shape. Fold the top down and staple it. cover the staples with a piece of tape to secure the bag. You may wish to paint the ball a bright/fluorescent colour.

POM POM SORTING

Focus: colour identification and matching, vision stimulation, fine motor

Materials:

  • black felt
  • white felt
  • pom-poms, various sizes and colours
  • containers in matching colours (tubes from M&M minis work great!)

Procedure: Place black and white felt squares on a flat surface. Scatter pom poms across both pieces of felt. Instruct the child to place pom poms in the container of the same colour. Observe closely to see if the child misses pom poms of a certain size or in certain areas. Colour perception and contrast sensitivity may also be observed.

BEAN SORTING

Focus: sorting, matching, fine motor (pincer grasp,) tactile awareness, colour awareness.

Materials:

  • several varieties of dried beans (bulk food stores are a great source.) Be sure to choose beans which contrast in colour, size, shape, texture.
  • muffin tin
  • storage container for beans

Procedure: Place one of each type of bean into a muffin tin hole. Help the child to match and sort the remaining beans.

Notes: You may wish to use paint or paper to add contrast to the bottom of the muffin tin holes. You may also sort beans into an egg carton, but muffin tins provide more auditory appeal. Locally available types of nuts may also be used such as acorns, pinecones, sunflower seeds, etc. (be aware of potential allergies!)

RUBBER BAND SORTING

Focus: sorting, matching, finger strength, concepts of stretch, snap, long, short.

Materials:

  • rubber bands of all sizes, shapes, widths, lengths, colours.

Procedure: Help the child to match according to the different attributes of the rubber bands. You may also show them how to stretch the bands so that a shorter band is temporarily the same length as a longer band. This will also help to work on finger strength and coordination.

ERASER SORT

Focus: fine motor activity, tactile awareness, concept of same/different/sorting/matching.

Materials:

  • two-bowl plastic pet dish in a pale colour
  • Novelty erasers: at least three of each shape
  • Black permanent marker or tape

Procedure: outline the top of each bowl with a black permanent marker or tape to increase contrast. You may wish to glue contrast colour papers to the bottom of each bowl. Have the child sort the erasers into the two bowls. ***Be aware that erasers often contain latex, and some children may be allergic to this.

FUNNY FISHING GEAR

Focus: fine motor control, finger strength, vision stimulation, colour awareness, sorting

Materials:

  • small plastic fishing tackle box
  • Aquarium stones or "jewels": several of each colour
  • Tongs for topping strawberries

Procedure: Have the child sort the stones according to colour. Have them use the tongs to make the task more challenging.

WATER PLAY

Focus: tactile awareness, hand and finger strength, pouring, concepts of hot/cold, empty/full, heavy/light, conservation.

Materials:

  • metal bowls
  • cups, bowls, small containers
  • eyedropper
  • turkey baster
  • syringe
  • sponges
  • squirt bottles (eg. dish soap)
  • pump bottles (eg. soap dispenser)
  • tray

Procedure: Place supplies on tray (to minimize spillage.) Help the child explore the many ways they can play with water. They may use the eyedropper, turkey baster, syringe and pump bottle to explore suction and pressure while developing hand strength. Using metal bowls will increase auditory feedback. The child can explore soaking up water with a sponge, and wringing it out (hand strength, using two hands together) while discussing the differences in weight when the sponge is empty or full. The child may experiment with the different containers, pouring water from one to the other, comparing the amount of water each will hold.

TEXTURE STICKS

Focus: To match pairs of sticks tactually. Tactile discrimination and concentration

Material:

  • 6 textured fabrics
  • 24 tongue depressors
  • white glue
  • storage container

Procedure: Cut four strips of each fabrics 16 mm wide and 127 mm long. Brush white glue on the sticks. Center the fabrics and press firmly. Be sure all edges are glued securely. The child may be asked to find all four of one texture, or to organize sticks into sets (one each of several textures) You may present the child with three sticks of the same texture, and one of a different texture, and ask the child to give you the one which is different. You could also create a pattern of textures for the child to copy.

SANDPAPER STICKS

Focus: to match sticks of like-textured sandpaper by feel

Material:

  • 12 tongue depressors
  • sandpaper in coarse to fine textures
  • white glue
  • storage container

Procedure: Cut 2 strips of sandpaper for each texture and glue to sticks. Place sticks in random order on a flat surface. By feeling the sticks the child will match the textures together.

CEREAL SORTING

Focus: sensory awareness, sorting, matching.

Materials:

  • ice cube tray/muffin tin/containers
  • different types of breakfast cereals: Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Shreddies, Lucky Charms.

Procedure: The child may sort the cereals into the different containers/compartments. They can sort by size, texture, taste, smell, shape, etc. For example, Cheerios are the same shape as Fruit Loops, but will smell and taste different.

SOFT AND HARD SORTING

Focus: tactile discrimination, concept of hard/soft, sorting

Materials:

  • 2 cardboard sheets, approximately 9" by 12" each or two bins or boxes
  • marker
  • Braille labeler
  • small piece of wood (to be labeled)
  • small piece of sponge (to be labeled)
  • glue
  • collection of hard and soft materials (eg. hammer, coins, mirror, cup, seashell, marbles, shirt, grapes, bread, sweater, feather, teddy bear, slippers, towels, yarn).

Procedure: Glue piece of wood to one piece of cardboard or onto the bin/container, and label it "hard" in large print and Braille. Glue the piece of sponge to the other piece of cardboard or onto the other bin/container, and label it "soft" in large print and Braille. Give the child the collection of hard and soft objects, and help them to sort them into the appropriate areas.

LID MATCHING

Focus: matching size and shape, fine motor coordination, hand strength, wrist rotation.

Materials:

  • various containers with removable lids. Eg. coffee cans, baby food jars, screw-top containers, dish soap bottles.

Procedure: Present all containers to the child . They must match lids to containers, and use two hands together to screw on lids. Containers may fit inside each other, giving the opportunity to explore size, etc.

CYLINDER SIZES

Focus: sorting, size concepts

Materials:

  • cardboard cylinders (all same circumference): paper
  • towel rolls, toilet paper rolls
  • scissors

Procedure: With scissors, cut the cylinders into different lengths. The child can then sort them from smallest to largest.

Notes: You may wish to cut the cylinders at very regular lengths, and make several of each length, so that the child may explore quarters, halves, thirds, etc.

WEIGHT BOTTLES

Focus: awareness of weight, comparisons.

Materials:

  • 6 plastic bottles with lids
  • water
  • glue

Procedure: Fill each bottle with increasing amounts of water, from empty to full. Glue lids on securely. Children can compare the weights of each bottle, and place them in order from lightest to heaviest. You may wish to add food colouring to the water for use with children with low vision.

MYSTERY SOCKS

Focus: identifying objects by touch, labeling objects/vocabulary, matching pictures to objects.

Materials:

  • adult-size thick socks
  • labels: Braille and large print
  • pictures of objects
  • objects: eg. feather, pencil, toothbrush, nail, toy car, rubber
  • band, spoon, wool.

Procedure: Place one object inside each sock. The child must reach into the sock, and without looking, identify the object and then find the correct picture or label.

ROCK SORTING

Focus: sorting, matching, comparing sizes, shapes weights.

Materials:

  • several pairs of rocks, of different shapes and sizes

Procedure: Help the child to match up the rocks, and to make comparisons of size, shape, colour, texture and weight.

Notes: You may also vary the temperature of the rocks by refrigerating them or heating them with hot water. The child may then sort by temperature. Rocks will tend to hold temperatures for longer periods of time.

SLIDING BALL

Focus: hand-eye coordination, tracking, upper body strength.

Materials:

  • newspaper
  • knitting needle
  • non-toxic paints in bold/neon colours
  • 4 feet sturdy string or nylon rope
  • craft knife
  • round balloon
  • water and flour/wall paper paste/glue
  • dish pan

Procedure: Mix flour, water and wallpaper paste in dishpan to make paste. Tear newspapers into strips. Blow up balloon and tie knot. Cover balloon to about 1/4 inch thick with strips of newspaper which have been dipped in the glue mixture. Allow to dry thoroughly, then paint with bright colours. Cut two holes in opposite ends of the ball, with each hold being about 2 inch diameter. Thread rope through both holes with the knitting needle, then double back again. Tie ends of rope together. Near each end, tie knots so that rope won't slip back through the ball. The child can hold the loop in both hands so that the ball slides back and forth.

Notes: Use bold contrasts, black and white stripes, or shiny tape to make the ball more visually interesting. You may wish to seal a bell inside the ball.

FLOAT AND SINK

Focus: categorizing, properties of water, concepts of float/sink, concept of opposites.

Materials:

  • dishpan
  • water
  • two bins
  • Braille labels
  • marker
  • clear Mac tac
  • objects: bar soaps, cork, wood, marbles,

Procedure: Label one bin "sink" and the other "float" with both Braille and large print. Cover the print label with clear Mactac. Fill the dishpan with water. The child can experiment with the objects to see which sink and which float, and then place them in the appropriate bin. Try to include some items which are similar in shape and material, but which may not both float or sink. For example, some brands of bar soap float while others do not.

Notes: For older children, you may wish to expand on this topic. Help children to make a tactile mark of water level in the dishpan. The child may then add various objects, and check how the water level has changed. The child may then try to predict how the water level will change when various objects are added, and check the accuracy of their prediction.

ICE CUBE TRAY TEXTURE MATCHING

Focus: tactile awareness, concept of same/different/matching

Materials:

  • one 12-cube ice cube tray
  • 12 one-inch blocks
  • six different fabrics/textures

Procedure: Glue matching textures onto pairs of blocks. You may need to cover only two or three sides so that the blocks will still fit into the ice cube tray spaces. Place six different textures along one side of the tray. Present the tray to the child and ask them to match the blocks by placing a block in the space beside it's match.

Notes: This activity may be expanded to involve a pattern of blocks for the child to match or continue.

FOLLOWING FOOTSTEPS GAME

Focus: encourages children to develop large muscle skills. Child will develop skills in counting as well as the concepts of left and right.

Material:

  • vinyl, rug sample or shower curtain
  • felt
  • scissors
  • dice
  • Velcro

Procedure: Cut out felt footprints and put Velcro on one side. The footprints are placed on the mat close enough together so the child can step or hop from one another. Child will roll the dice and move forward on the footprints. Add music to this activities or add different tasks (ie: hop on one foot, take a long stride, use right foot "¦)

MAGNET SORT

Focus: to sort magnets by attaching them to a metal cookie sheet.

Materials:

  • 5 identical sets of magnets
  • non-aluminum cookie sheet
  • storage container

Procedure: Sort magnets by rows wither vertical or horizontal. Depending on the type of magnets you use the child may sort by colour, texture, shape or similar features.

PEG BOARD

Focus: to develop fine motor skills.

Materials:

  • 2 pieces of peg board, each 12" square
  • golf tees
  • sandpaper
  • four one-inch blocks

Procedure: Use sandpaper and blunt the points of the tees. Glue the blocks in each corner between the two pieces of pegboard (to separate them.) Separating the two pieces allows the child to see and feel where the peg has gone when it goes "through." The objective of this activity is to place the golf tee into the pegboard creating a design and increase fine motor skills. You may wish to paint one or both pieces of peg board to improve colour contrast.

SENSORY BOTTLES

Focus: To pair the matching bottles by sound or smell. This activity will encourage sound distinction and olfactory perception.

Material:

  • bottles with lids, film containers
  • sound bottle material- salt, pennies, paperclips, rice etc.
  • aroma bottles- cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint, ginger, nutmeg

Procedure: Wash the bottles out really well. Fill the bottles with the material of your choice, making sure you make two of each. Encourage the child to sort and match the bottles together.

SIMPLE SORTING

Focus: sorting tasks encourage children to recognize likenesses and differences and to organize items by categories based on identifying characteristics. This activity will also enhance fine motor development and perceptual skills.

Material:

  • 6 cup muffin tin
  • beads of different size and shape
  • storage container

Procedure: The child will sort the beads or shapes into the muffin tin cups.

PAPER BAG SEARCH

Focus: colour, shape and number recognition, categorizing, problem solving

Materials:

  • paper bags
  • pieces of paper, different colours
  • pieces of cardboard cut into different shapes
  • pieces of cardboard with numbers in print and/or Braille

Procedure: each child receives a bag to collect items in. Each child is given a card with directions regarding what they are to find. Eg. a piece of red paper will tell them to locate red items. A piece of cardboard with a circle on it will tell them to find items which are circular/round. The child may then collect items from within the classroom/home or outside.

POKE & PEEK

Focus: encourages fine motor development and eye-hand coordination.

Materials:

  • colander
  • tin bowl
  • coloured toothpicks

Procedure: Invert the colander. The child will insert the toothpicks into the holes. Add a tin bowl underneath the colander and it will give auditory feedback to the child.

AQUARIUM GRAVEL SCOOP AND SEARCH

Focus: fine and gross motor skills, tactile and auditory awareness, concepts of heavy/light, empty/full, scoop/pour.

Materials:

  • metal cake pan
  • Aquarium gravel (wide variety of bold colours available)
  • Stones, shells
  • Cups and containers

Procedure: pour gravel into pan. Encourage child to scoop and pour gravel (good sound on metal pan, and fairly heavy to increase feedback from muscles) You may also wish to hide shells and stones in the gravel and have the child do a tactile or visual search for them. The pan and gravel may also be used to have the child trace shapes or letters.

TEE BOWL

Focus: to fit the golf tees into the holes in the bowl lid. This activity will enhance manual dexterity and fine motor skills.

Materials:

  • large plastic bowl with snap on lid
  • golf tees
  • paper hole punch
  • sand paper

Procedure: Blunt the points of the tees using the sand paper. Use the hole punch to punch holes around the rim of the lid spacing them an inch apart. Put the lid on the container. The child may then place the golf tees into the holes. You may wish to add a high contrast colour around the holes to make them more visible.

MUSICAL PIPES

Focus: This activity provides opportunity for the child to associate words and sounds, such as loud or soft.

Material:

  • piece of pipe 2 ½ inches long
  • wire or string
  • empty thread spool
  • spoon

Procedure: Place string through pipe and spool and tie, allowing the pipe to swing freely. The spool would act as the handle and the pipe would echo the sound of the spoon tapping it.

SOUND MATCHING

Focus: auditory awareness, concept of matching, concept of loud/soft sounds

Materials:

  • 10 watchmaker tins (available in hardware stores)
    or
    10 tubes from M&M minis candy
  • 2 teaspoons oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 8 Cheerios
  • 8 kernels unpopped popcorn

Procedure: Place equal amounts of food into pairs of tubes (eg. Two with one teaspoon of oatmeal each.) Glue lids shut tightly. When completed, give the child one of each pair, and instruct them to find the matching container. You may also help the child to become aware of high/low/loud/soft sounds.

CONCEPT GAME

Focus: concept development (cardinal directions, left, right, body parts, under/over, etc.)

Materials:

  • 20" x 20" cardboard sheet
  • approximately 50 4" x 6" cards
  • black felt-tip marker
  • hot glue gun and bold coloured glue

Procedure: Create a tactile/high contrast grid on the cardboard, as shown below. Each space should be approximately 2" square. On the cards, write the following questions in large print using the felt-tip marker. Braille may be added if desired. Players take turns answering questions, with each moving ahead one space for each correct answer. Questions may be customized to work on any concepts you wish, for example:

  • What body part goes into your pant leg first?
  • Blow a kiss
  • Which side of the road do you walk on when there are no sidewalks?
  • This body part helps you to taste
  • Wink
  • Place the dice in the palm of your hand
  • What is the function of your teeth?
  • Place your hand at shoulder height
  • In what cardinal direction does the sun set?
  • Hold this card under the table
  • Stand behind your chair
  • Place your arms perpendicular to each other
  • Where would you hear an echo?
  • What part of the cane touches the ground?

Contributed by: Brenda Peacock, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, CNIB

TAPPING HELPER

Focus: to teach child to move a white cane in a proper, side to side, "sweeping" motion. As the cane comes in contact with the "helper" the child will get auditory feedback from the cane tip hitting the tin lids.

Materials:

  • 6 pieces wood (1" by 3"), each 30" long
  • 4 pieces wood, 8" long
  • hinges
  • screws
  • juice can lids from pull-tab cans (never use lids which are sharp!)

Procedure: Make two separate "helpers." For each helper, attach 3 long pieces of wood to each other with hinges (folding will allow for ease of transportation.) At each end, attach an 8" length onto the longer board (so that it is now 2" thick.) This will allow more stability when you stand up the helper. Screw juice can lids on one side of each helper, making sure there is no space left between lids. Set helpers up parallel to each other. Demonstrate or assist the child to move their cane from side to side so that the cane makes contact with the lids. Width of the path can be varied according to cane length. Alternately, a single helper may be used, with a wall as the other side. Hinge types may be varied so that you can create a path with curves or corners.

Contributed by: Brenda Peacock, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, CNIB

BRACELETS AND BUTTONS

Focus: numbers one to ten, sorting, grouping, fine motor skills

Materials:

  • ten brightly coloured bracelets
  • white felt
  • 55 buttons

Procedure: Lay the felt out flat on the table (it provides colour contrast and also helps to keep the bracelets and buttons from slipping.) Lay the bracelets side by side in a row. The child can place one button in the first bracelet, two in the second bracelet, and so on.

KEY MATCHING

Focus: tactile discrimination, finger coordination, matching

Materials:

  • plywood, 8" by 10" sanded smooth
  • six hooks (screw-in type)
  • six pairs of keys

Procedure: Screw the hooks into the board in two rows of three hooks each. Place one key from each pair on a hook, and have the child attempt to find the identical key and place it on the same hook.

LOCKS AND KEYS

Focus: fine motor skills, practical life skill, concept of open/shut.

Materials:

  • padlocks
  • bicycle locks
  • doorknob with lock
  • key ring (easily opened)

Procedure: Present one or more locks and keys to the child, and have the child try to match keys to locks. Show the child how to insert the key and turn it, listening and feeling to see if the lock has opened. Prompt the child to try another key if the first one does not work. Help the child to strategize about awareness of sizes and types of keys, what to do when locks won't open.

KEYS FOR LEARNING

Focus: putting keys on hooks develop fine motor skills. Matching the key shapes provides a perceptual task for older children.

Materials:

  • 6 keys
  • Square piece of wood
  • 6 hooks
  • Glue
  • Bristol board

Procedure: Lay the six keys on to bristol board and trace around the keys with a marker then cut them out. Glue them on the wood. Screw the hooks on to the wood 2 ½ inches apart in 2 rows. The child then will match the shape of the keys with the keys attached to the wood.

BUTTON SORTING

Focus: fine motor, tactile discrimination, sorting, large/small.

Materials:

  • egg carton or muffin tin, or ice cube tray
  • buttons: various sizes, colours, shapes and textures

Procedure: Children can sort the buttons into sections of the containers. They can sort by size, colour, texture, or shape.

PINCUSHIONS

Focus: fine motor, number concepts

Materials:

  • pieces of foam or corkboard, approximately 4" by 4"
  • pins with coloured plastic tops, or bulletin board pins
  • fabric paint
  • marker
  • Braille labeler

Procedure: Mark each piece of foam or corkboard with a print and/or Braille number. You may also wish to add the corresponding number of dots with fabric paint. The child can push the correct number of pins into each piece of foam/corkboard.

CLOTHESPIN MATCHING GAME

Focus: fine motor control, concept of matching

Materials:

  • coffee can
  • wallpaper/Mactac to cover can
  • spring-type wooden clothespins
  • scraps of different textures
  • glue

Procedure: Glue wallpaper onto coffee can. Mark the can into at least six sections (vertical.) Glue one texture on to one section. Glue the same texture on to one clothespin. Repeat until you have six different textures on the can, and six clothespins with matching textures. The child will develop finger strength as they try to clip the clothespeg to the top of the can in the matching section.

Notes: This game can be used for any type of matching: colours, textures, Braille letters, tactile or high contrast shapes, etc.

MATERIAL SORTING

Focus: sorting, matching, tactile discrimination, vocabulary

Materials:

  • tin pie plates
  • glue
  • small pieces of the following materials: leather,
  • plastic, rubber, glass, metal, wood,
  • black felt-tip marker
  • Braille labeler
  • assorted objects (eg. wallet, belt, necklace, key chain, cup, key zipper, tin box, can, eyeglasses, mirror, bottle, washers, mat, gloves, ball, toys, thread spool, block, stick.)

Procedure: Label each pie plate in large print and Braille, and glue on the corresponding material sample. The child may then sort the objects into the correct material category.

PIGGIE BANKS

Focus: sorting, matching, fine motor, money

Materials:

  • baby food jars with lids
  • assortment of coins: loonies, quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies.
  • marker
  • white paper for labels
  • Braille labeler

Procedure: Cut a slit in each jar lid, large enough for coins to go through. Label each jar with a name of coin. You may wish to glue a coin on the front of each jar as well. The child may then sort coins into the various jars.

Notes: You may vary the activity by labeling the jars with different amounts of money; the child must then place the correct combination of coins in the jar (eg. label 35 cents, and child can find combinations of coins that add up to 35 cents.)

HOUSEHOLD SORTING

Focus: sorting, classifying

Materials:

  • various items used for different tasks (eg. sock, shirt, mitten, necklace, ring, watch, spoon, fork, cup, toothbrush, comb, soap, toothpaste, pencil, crayon, pen, eraser, paper, doll, block, marble, toy car, etc.)

Procedure: The child can explore the items, discuss what each item is used for, and sort the items into classifications: clothing, hygiene, toys, eating/cooking utensils, etc.

MARBLE SORTING

Focus: sorting, classifying, fine motor skills, Braille awareness

Materials:

  • marbles of different sizes, textures and colours
  • Ice cube trays, containers
  • Novelty ice cube tray (makes ½ inch round ice)

Procedure: have the child sort the marbles by size or colour. You can use the novelty ice cube tray to place small marbles in the holes to increase fine-motor skills, or to place them in patterns of Braille letters

NUMBER CANS

Focus: counting, number concepts

Materials:

  • tin cans with no sharp edges, lids removed
  • Braille labeler
  • marker
  • tactile dots/fabric paint
  • tongue depressor/Popsicle sticks

Procedure: Label each can with a number. You may wish to add the corresponding number of dots. The child can then place the correct number of sticks into each can.

Notes: You may also label the cans with addition and subtraction questions. You can vary the game by using vases and flowers instead of cans and sticks.

THE SCREW GAME

Focus: observing size difference, fine motor skills, life skill, wrist rotation

Materials:

  • plywood board, sanded smooth
  • bolts and nuts (various sizes)
  • screwdriver
  • drill

Procedure: Use drill to drill holes into the wood. Glue nuts over the holes in the wood. The child may then match bolts to the nuts, and use the screwdriver to screw in the bolt.

RELATED OBJECTS JARS

Focus: associating objects which belong together, vocabulary, logic

Materials:

  • baby food jars
  • glue
  • objects: stamp/envelope, key/lock, tire/toy car, needle/thread,
  • eraser/pencil, slate/stylus, flower/vase, nail/hammer

Procedure: Fasten one item of each pair onto the jar. The child must then place the corresponding object in the jar.

OUTLINES

Focus: one-to-one correspondence, observing size and shape of objects, noticing similarities and differences, matching, understanding of abstract representation.

Materials:

  • sturdy cardboard, 12" by 18"
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • objects (eg. key, pencil, comb, blunt scissors, paper clip, clothespin, toy car)

Procedure: On cardboard, trace each object in pencil. Use glue gun to cover pencil marks with glue to make a tactile outline. The child must then match the object to the correct outline.

BOLT BOARD

Focus: fine motor development, matching size, life skills

Materials:

  • nuts, bolts and knobs of various sizes and types
  • glue (optional)
  • thin wooden board (optional)

Procedure: Present the child with nuts and bolts and have them screw the correct nut onto the corresponding bolt. Optional: mount bolts by inserting bolts through a sheet of wood, and secure in place by gluing the underside of the board.

MEASURING SPOONS

Focus: nesting, sorting sizes, fine motor coordination

Materials:

  • metal measuring spoons

Procedure: Help the child to stack the spoons according to size, and discuss concepts such as biggest, smallest, etc. Talk about what spoons may be used for. Have child scoop materials to compare the different quantities each spoon will hold.

HOOK BOARD

Focus: fine motor coordination, hand-eye coordination, one-to-one correspondence, size comparison.

Materials:

  • plywood board
  • 25 hooks (screw-in type)
  • washers (five sizes)

Procedure: Ensure that the board is sanded smooth. Screw in hooks in 5 rows of 5 hooks each. The child can then place washers on the hooks in a random fashion, or you may have them order the washers from largest to smallest, or to copy a pattern of sizes. You may wish to prop the board up vertically, so that the child has to reach upwards to place the washers on the hooks, building upper body strength.

CORNERS

Focus: concept of corners, categorizing, sorting

Materials:

  • two containers (to sort items into)
  • objects with angles/corners (eg. boxes, blocks, cardboard squares/triangles/rectangles)
  • objects without corners (eg. marbles, cardboard circles, bottles)

Procedure: Help the child to sort the objects according to whether or not they have corners. Discuss other places you might find corners, where they are used in buildings, other ways in which rooms are constructed.

TACTILE GRAPHING

Focus: tactile discrimination, matching, sorting, categorizing shapes

Materials:

  • craft foam
  • scissors
  • heavy cardboard
  • hot glue gun

Procedure: On the cardboard, draw a 12" by 12" square. Create a grid by dividing the square into four columns and four rows (3" by 3" squares.) Outline all squares with hot glue to create tactile lines. Cut the craft foam into four each of four different shapes. Glue one of each shape in the top square of each column. The child may then sort the remaining shapes into the correct columns.

DOMINO STICKS

Focus: tactile discrimination, matching

Materials:

  • wooden tongue depressor sticks
  • scraps of different textures
  • glue

Procedure: Glue a texture on to one end of a stick, covering the width of the stick and about one inch of the length. Glue a different texture to the opposite end of the stick. Continue to glue textures onto sticks, ensuring that the same texture is used on several sticks, so that the child can later match the textures by laying the sticks end to end, and play dominos.

Notes: you can vary this activity by using shapes or Braille letters instead of textures.

SHAPE STICKS

Focus: to match pairs of sticks containing like shape combinations.

Materials:

  • tongue depressors
  • foam shape pieces
  • glue
  • storage container

Procedure: Make two sticks of each shape combination. Use shapes like: triangle, square, oval, circle, diamond, cross, semi-circle, heart. Create stick that have two of the same shape and tow different shapes. Place sticks randomly on flat surface and match together. Point out to the child that they need to match both designs.

TACTILE LOTTO

Focus: tactile discrimination, turn-taking, following instructions and rules

Materials:

  • heavy cardboard
  • hot glue gun
  • various textured materials (sandpaper, velvet, corrugated paper)

Procedure: cut cardboard into several 15" squares. On each square, create a grid of 3" squares. Outline the grid with hot glue to make tactile lines. Cut fabrics into 2" squares, and glue textures into the squares. To play, the adult describes a texture, and the child must check their board to see if they have a fabric that matches that texture. Players may continue until they have identified all of the textures in a row, or all of the textures on the card.

DOWEL MATCHING

Focus: size discrimination, sorting and matching, ordering

Materials:

  • wooden doweling, five difference diameters, 3 feet of each
  • Velcro
  • glue

Procedure: Cut each strip of dowelling into three sections of 12" each. Glue Velcro onto the ends of each segment. Help the child to compare the sizes of dowelling, to attach the matching sizes together, and then to place the completed sets in order from largest to smallest.

Notes: You may vary this activity by attaching hooks instead of Velcro, and hanging the dowels from a horizontal rod. The child may still match the sizes, but will have the more challenging task of hooking the dowels together, as well as developing upper body strength by reaching up to hook the dowels.

BELL STICKS

Focus: to match the bells according to their sound.

Materials:

  • tongue depressors
  • bells of different size (two of each size)
  • ribbon
  • glue
  • storage container

Procedure: Attach bells to sticks by tying them on to ribbon, then securely gluing the ribbon to the sticks. By ringing the bell sticks the child must match the sounds.

WEAVING BOARD

Focus: to weave the ribbon over and under the elastic. This will enhance skills of manual dexterity, fine motor skills and concepts of over and under.

Material:

  • square board
  • 1" wide elastic
  • staple gun
  • ribbon
  • storage container

Procedure: Cut elastic into 12" lengths and place them on the board side by side. Staple the ends of them to the back of the board. Cut the ribbons into equal lengths and dip the ends into glue so that they will not fray. This child will take the ribbons and weave them over and under the elastics. Be sure to use solid coloured ribbons which will contrast with each other and with the board. Various textures of ribbon may also be used.

TOP THE BOX

Focus: increase fine motor development and perceptual skills in recognizing and matching sizes. This activity also promotes concepts of open, closed, top and bottom.

Materials:

  • boxes with lids (different sizes)
  • foam numbers or puffy paint
  • glue
  • buttons or foam shapes

Procedure: Glue the foam numbers inside the box and on the lid of the same box. Glue buttons or foam shapes also on the lid of the box to encourage the child to count. Place boxes and lids randomly on a flat surface. The object is for the child to match the correct box with its proper lid.

SHAPE MATCHING GAME

Focus: turn-taking, following directions, matching shapes, tactile discrimination

Materials:

  • heavy cardboard or foam core board, 18" by 24"
  • hot glue gun
  • coloured glue sticks
  • craft foam
  • cardboard cut into 2" by 2" squares

Procedure: Using the hot glue gun and high contrasting colours of glue sticks, create a winding pathway of squares across the board. Cut sets of matching shapes from the craft foam (eg. star, circle, square, diamond, etc.) Glue these shapes in the squares on the pathway in a random order. Glue the remaining shapes onto the cardboard squares. Children must determine which shape is on the next square on the path. They then draw from the pile of cardboard squares. If the shapes match, they move ahead one space. If the shapes do not match, their opponent takes a turn.

Notes: Textures or Braille letters may be used instead of shapes.

SCALE

Focus: to experiment with weight and balance.

Materials:

  • an 18" length of 1"x2" board
  • 2 small plastic containers
  • contact cement or epoxy glue
  • heavy cord, 12 " long
  • screw eye
  • S Hook (optional)
  • small nuts in the shell
  • storage container for nuts

Procedure: Glue the containers on the ends of beam. Put the screw eye in the centre of the beam. Tie one end of the cord through the screw eye and tie the other end in a loop. Use the S hook to hang the beam from a curtain rod, tension bar, or in a doorway. The board should hang flat. The child can then experiment with placing different sizes or quantities of nuts in the containers, to see which end of the scale will dip, how they can make the two ends balance, etc.

WASHER BAR

Focus: to sort and grade the washers according to size as you place them on the board. Will enhance manual dexterity, comparing skills and problem solving skills.

Material:

  • piece of wood 1"x2" 12" long
  • 5 finishing nails
  • 25 washers: 5 sets of 5 each in graduated sizes
  • storage container

Procedure: The child can sort the washers according to size or sort In sequence.

Notes: You may wish to add a screw eye to the centre of this board, and use six evenly spaced nails, so that the board may be hung and used as a scale. Children may experiment with sizes, combinations, and placements of washers.

STOP AND GO RACE

Focus: turn-taking, counting, left/right, stop/go

Materials:

  • piece of heavy cardboard/foam core, 12" by 24"
  • hot glue gun
  • coloured glue sticks
  • marker
  • Braille labeler (optional)
  • two small toy cars
  • 20 pieces of Braille paper, 2" by 3" each
  • red and green construction paper or craft foam

Procedure: Using the hot glue gun and high contrast colours of glue, create a grid with two columns and 12 rows. The top row should read "finish" and the bottom row should read "start." Each child chooses a car to use as their marker. On the cards, print or Braille instructions: go ahead, go back, go left, go right, stop. There should be several of each instruction. Children may take turns choosing a card from the pile and following the directions.

SHAPE FINDER

Focus: encourages the child to recognize shapes patterning and a sequential pattern.

Materials:

  • craft foam
  • index cards
  • scissors

Procedure: Cut out shapes from the craft foam and glue them on the index cards in a sequential order. Cut out extra shapes so that the child can match the pattern or expand the pattern.

PIZZA PIN UPS

Focus: encourages the child to learn correct numerical value by counting and matching. Clothes pins provides fine motor development.

Materials:

  • circle cardboard cut out
  • tactile object to be glue for counting
  • clothes pins
  • ruler
  • marker
  • puff paint

Procedure: Divide the circle into 5 even sections (like a pizza). Place the tactile marking in each of the section of the board in quantities from 1-5. On the clothes pins use puff paint to write the number and corresponding number of dots. The child will clip the correct clothespin with the corresponding section on the circle.

CUBE IT

Focus: Provides practice in counting objects and matching the correct amount to each number.

Materials:

  • tag board
  • puff paint
  • cubes or blocks

Procedure: On the Tag board draw a number using the Puff Paint, beside the number add the corresponding dots. Write the number in any order along the left side of the board. This will allow enough space for the blocks to be built beside the number.

BOTTLE CAP COUNTER

Focus: this activity reinforce the concept of 1 to 1 number correspondence

Materials:

  • bottle caps
  • puff paint
  • bristol board/Tag board

Procedure: Use puff paint to write numbers 1-5 across the top of the board. Trace the corresponding number of bottle caps underneath each of the numbers. Once dry the child can match the bottle caps underneath the numbers in the outlines provided.

HAIRSTYLE FUN

Focus: fine motor skills, tactile awareness, life skills

Materials:

  • peg board cut into 6" by 4" oval
  • Ribbons: various widths, colours and textures
  • Hair clips, bobby pins, barrettes of various sizes, colours and types

Procedure: Pull ribbons through holes and knot securely at back of board. Have the child put the hair clips onto the ribbons to increase fine motor coordination, awareness of colour contrast, and exposure to textures.

MICROWAVE MARBLES

Focus: pre-Braille skills, fine motor control

Materials:

  • microwave dish with grooves
  • marbles to fit into grooves

Procedure: Place one marble in each groove, and push all marbles to the left side. Some microwave dishes are shaped in way that will keep the marbles at the side without slipping down to the next groove. Help the child to start at the top left marble, and push it across to the right side of the dish. The child must then follow the edge of the groove back to the left side of the dish, and find the next marble down. Continue to track the marbles from left to right, top to bottom, in the pattern that the child will eventually need to track lines of Braille.

Daily Routines

Many skills can be worked on throughout daily routines. Rather than providing detailed descriptions of activities, we have listed skills which may be developed while participating in daily routines. We hope that these lists will remind parents and professionals of the many skills that children may develop while also developing skills of independence.

Washing Dishes

  • On/off (taps)
  • Wrist and hand strength
  • Concept of wet/dry
  • Concept of clean/dirty
  • Stacking (to fit dishes in cupboard)
  • Sorting (to fit dishes into draining rack, into cupboard)
  • Nesting (to put bowls in cupboard, cups together)
  • hot/cold (water)
  • olfactory awareness (smell of food, dish soap)
  • concept of full/empty (pouring, rinsing)
  • auditory awareness (squeak when clean)
  • tactile awareness (sticky, bubbly, slippery)

Laundry

  • Clean/dirty
  • Size comparison
  • Matching colours (find same colour socks)
  • Sorting colours
  • Sorting by size/owner of clothes
  • Sorting by type of clothing (socks, towels)
  • Matching patterns (socks, towels)
  • Folding
  • Large/small
  • Shapes (towels are rectangular, fold to be square)
  • Textures

Setting The Table

  • One-to-one correspondence (one plate for each)
  • Matching shapes/objects (may wish to use bold marker
  • to outline shapes of dishes, or use dishes to set one place for the child to use as a model)
  • stacking/nesting (to carry dishes)
  • matching colours of dishes
  • comparing sizes of dishes
  • comparing shapes of dishes
  • awareness of social skills

Cooking/Baking

  • Measuring
  • Pouring
  • scooping
  • Textures (wet, dry, rough, smooth, sticky)
  • Scents (of each ingredient, combinations of ingredients, changes when cooked)
  • Tastes (of each ingredient, combinations of ingredients, changes when cooked)
  • Stirring/mixing (hand strength)
  • Reading recipe (literacy)
  • Hot/cold
  • Discuss safety issues regarding stoves, knives, etc.
  • Change in texture/form when foods are raw, mixed, cooked, frozen
  • Life skills/self help skills
  • Social skills (independence, hosting others)

Feeding Pets

  • Full/empty dishes
  • Scents (of food and pets)
  • Clean/dirty (dishes)
  • Discuss and demonstrate responsibility for pets
  • Pouring
  • Measuring
  • Discuss and understand needs of animals

Caring for Plants

  • Wet/dry
  • Textures of dirt, leaves, stems, water
  • Observe growth
  • Shapes of leaves, blossoms
  • Scents of plants
  • Discuss and demonstrate responsibility for plants
  • Discuss and understand needs of growing things

Tidying

  • Sorting (types, sets, rooms items belong in)
  • Clean/dirty
  • Discuss safety, mobility issues
  • Develop organization skills
  • Discuss and demonstrate responsibility
  • Stacking, nesting
  • Awareness of containers (sizes, empty/full, open/shut)

Vending Machines/Pay phones

  • Cause and effect
  • Fine motor skills
  • Money concepts
  • Social skills

Toys From Around The House

There are a number of common objects which can be used in a variety of ways to elicit vision, hearing and touch. These objects cost very little or no money to construct. They can be used in unusual ways with the visually impaired and multiply-handicapped, to encourage their individual creativity. It is important to not limit the child's experience with that object to the perceived "right way" only. Be aware of any opportunity and show of interest from the child. If they are interested in an object -use it!

The following is only a beginning. Every individual situation and child will lead to the creation of more ideas.

Plastic Pot Scrubbers

  • can be used for their tactile component and can also be used as a noise make on cement, sandpaper, pots, etc.

Tin Foil Plates

  • can be used for folding into different shapes
  • can also be used for noise-making by scratching on it.
  • great for sorting games
  • great to hang as part of a mobile

Balloons

  • great for fine motor development
  • can feel, squeeze, build into shapes
  • can make squeeky sounds by squeezing the neck as the air escapes, can have the escaping air flow into the child's face/body (watch that it does not startle the child)

Tin Cans

  • great to drop things into the can and listen to the different sounds: pennies, macaroni, stones, buttons, nails, etc.
  • can use the can empty or filled with water to note the differences
  • can be used as nesting cups - use graduated cans from large juice cans, vegetable sized cans and baby food cans...

Bottles and Jars

  • can be used for matching in size, colour, weight, (put sand in, etc.)
  • can be used to practice screwing and unscrewing of lids (best used in appropriate settings, such as at meal time preparation)

Boxes

  • all sizes, big, small, square, rectangular, appliance-sized (which can be made into little rooms and then played in, on or around)
  • can take a fridge sized box and replicate a room, complete with door, windows, wall paper, rug ceiling, etc. to have the child experience all four walls, ceiling, etc. for concept of room
  • it would be best to have the child build as much of the "room" with you to understand the start-to-finish aspects of the project

Bean Bags

  • can use all different shapes and sizes as well as textures
  • can have the child help to fill the individual bags with all sorts of objects (beans, stones, marbles, sand, etc.)

Wading Pools

  • can fill them with different materials - water, water and sand, water and mud (our children must have all sorts of experience), water and bubbles, Indian corn, etc.

Bags

  • all different sizes and texture - plastic, green garbage bags, paper, aluminum foil bags, etc. can be used to put things in, take things our, crumple up, etc.
  • the thin, plastic bags from Sears have an especially interesting sound

Sandpaper

  • can rub it together
  • can use the different grades of sandpaper for different sounds and textures
  • can tack sandpaper onto blocks of wood to rub together
  • great to colour on with crayons. After colouring, you may carefully heat the sandpaper to melt the crayon; very interesting effects.

Eggbeater

  • can use it in different textures - water, water with soap, water with jello, water with sand, water with loose muck, etc.

Tools

  • real hammers (can be small) and nails may be easier to manipulate, especially if the child is at a hand over hand level
  • can use real nuts and bolts (large, stove or big equipment size may be easier to hold in terms of weight instead of the usual plastic ones which can be slippery)
  • real sanders can be used with little fear of the child hurting themselves if the finest sandpaper is used. This is excellent for children who love and respond positively to vibration
  • can use saws in a hand over hand approach. The child can learn the concept of cutting, etc.

Sorting Activities

  • many different common household items can be sorted. This has a dual purpose. The child can practice sorting and at the same time become familiar with objects that he will be using all of his life. The child can learn to sort silverware, towels, washcloths, socks, underwear. He can also sort crayons, buttons, jars, and jar lids, plastic bowls, measuring spoons, etc.

Mobiles

  • can use many different types of materials - paper, coloured objects, shiny pictures and wrapping paper, noise-makers, hanging objects, spinning toys, ribbons, cotton balls, tin foil, mirrors, paper towel rolls covered with different textures, etc.
  • can have the child make the mobile with adult
  • can hang it over the bed, wheel chair
  • can change the mobile to different sides of the room or bed
  • can change the mobile with different themes
  • can test the different responses from the child to different materials, noise-makers (look for the child's preference)

Scrapbooks

  • can be made from different types of paper, cardboard, corrugated paper, felt on cardboard, etc.
  • can use it to identify texture (paper, wood, cork, plastic, flat buttons, toothpicks, Popsicles. etc.)
  • can make up daily activity books with souvenirs from the child's different activities so he can read them

Toy Storage

  • Scott (1977) suggests using a large toy box with wheels. This box would keep the toys nearby the child as it could be wheeled around with the child. It could be big enough for riding in. It should be made in such a way that it would be easy for the child to push it. This would encourage some mobility on the part of the child. It would also help the child learn about neatness. It would prevent losing toys. It would also help to prevent the child from slipping or ripping on the toys when they learn to pick them up and put them in the box.

Christmas lights

  • can use the outdoor Christmas lights, starting with one colour - perhaps red. With close supervision, they could be bunched up in a handful size and used in a darkened room to work on tracking abilities. The use of the flasher plug can also elicit good results of responding. (Check with the medical personnel if the child has seizures as this may not be an appropriate activity.)

Plastic tubes

  • can be used for tracking activities
  • can use transparent plastic tubes (12 - 18 inches) filled with oil - drop solid coloured marbles in the tube, one at a time. Move the tube in a variety of movements and follow the movement of the marble.

Musical Toys

The ability to perceive sound is very important for all visually impaired children and especially so for the multiply-handicapped. Auditory awareness is an excellent tool for the child to develop and can be done in a variety of ways with a variety of toys and instruments. The child can first team about the instrument and what it does and how to produce the sound. The multiply-handicapped child may need quite a bit of hand-over-hand manipulation. They can learn to produce and then to match patterns of beats. They can team the difference between fast and slow, between high and low, and between loud and soft sounds.

The following list includes just some of the numerous instruments - both commercially produced or homemade.

Drums

  • all sizes, with different sizes of strikers. Different sized drums produce different sounds. It is possible to make drums from different sizes of cans, with rubber placed on the top. Strikers can be made by piercing a rubber ball with a sharpened piece of doweling. The child can help to construct the drums, then colour or paint the cans. The cans could also be covered with wallpaper or yarn.

Bells

  • all sizes, from tiny ones to big school bells. Belts could be attached to wrist bands if the child has poor motor control. They could also be attached to ankle bands and finger bands.

Tambourines

  • all sizes, different tones, some can be used with strikers. These are great for children with poor motor control as only a little effort can produce a noise. They can be made using tin plates or strong cardboard and pop bottle caps. They could also be made by using the tin foil plates turned to face each other with little bells placed inside. The child can help to make these and then paint, crayon and/or glue materials and ribbons on as streamers. The streamers are a good addition for children who are not too mobile, as they can feel the movement of the streamers past their bodies along with the sound.

Pianos / Organs

  • all sizes, all types (real and play size). Pianos and organs are great for these children. The vibration of these instruments is great, especially if the child is at a beginning awareness stage. Put the child right beside (or inside, if possible) so many parts of their body are touching the piano. Watch for initial startling, it is best to avoid this, so start by playing soft, soft sounds and build up volume and variety as soon as the child seems comfortable. Many of the toy pianos are very colourful, so this may also attract the child.

Blowing instruments

  • whistles, horns, trumpets, etc. -all kinds and sizes, and all tones. The child needs the skill of blowing first. If they can blow, give as much exposure as possible to different types. They may not be able to blow one kind, but they may have success with another kind of blowing instrument.

Traditional Musical Instruments

  • clappers, tone blocks, triangles, maracas, hand castanets, etc. These are all valuable instruments. Ensure that the child has all the necessary fine and gross motor control. These are the types of instruments commonly found in regular music circle times and if the multiply-handicapped child can use them, either alone or with some hand-over- hand help, they can participate in the group.

Homemade Instruments

  • plastic tubes, metal film cans. etc. filled with flour, rice, pebbles, salt, peach pits. seeds, marbles, etc. These can all be made with the child. They can be used for matching of similar or same kinds of sounds. They could also be used for sorting sounds into loud and soft. They could also be used to sequence sounds from soft to loud.

Auditory Awareness

  • can also occur around the house. Sound cues such as wind chimes, radios, loud ticking clocks and cassettes can be used to help the child figure out where he is.

TACTILE EXPERIENCES FOR SENSORY AWARENESS

Have the child take their shoes off both indoors and outside in order to feel different textures - rugs, tile, wood, rungs on the crib, legs on the furniture, grass, mud, stones, rocks, sand, gravel, cement, logs, garden dirt, etc. (just watch for glass, dangerous objects?)

Textured Floor Coverings

  • these are great for the child who is starting to move around and explore - corrugated paper - all colours, plywood, rubber mats, plastic mats, linoleum, velour, different piles of carpet, etc. Many children only experience laying in the playpen or on blankets on the floor.

Tactile/Texture Bins

  • can use sand and water tables for: dry sand, wet sand, cornmeal, Indian corn (very colourful), macaroni - all shapes, bran (good for children who like to put things in their mouths as it will not hurt them), Ivory Snow Flake Goop)

Painting

  • finger paints are great for children who like to get their fingers dirty - can use chocolate pudding for the children who are more timid. Shaving cream, regular and menthol, are also good for painting.

Textured Boundaries

  • good for children who tend to use too much space - can use masking tape, wood pieces, popsicle sticks, cork, coarse sandpaper, glue spread around a sheet and sand sprinkled on it. Placemats can also be used to define a child's space.

Sewing Cards

  • can be homemade with large holes around the perimeter of the image to allow a child to both see and feet the outline of the images, then use a large needle and wool.

Textures

Visually impaired children should experience as many different textures as possible. Safford (1978) feels that children should learn about tactile attributes and the differentiation (like vs. unlike) and the classification of them. Some of the textures suggested are: soft, hard, fuzzy, scratchy, smooth, rough, cold, warm, sharp, crisp, thick, spongy, furry, bristly, springy, bumpy, stiff, prickly, flexible, etc.

Several textures can be joined together for furthur experiences: cotton is both soft and light, feathers are soft and stiff, plastic Is both smooth and flexible, styrofoam is smooth and scratchy, metal is cold and smooth, and a coil Is cold and springy.

It is good to start with textures in the child's immediate environment. In this way, the child will have more opportunity to experience the particular textures.

Recommended Reading

Gilbert, LaBritta (1984.) I Can Do It! I Can Do It! 135 Successful Independent Learning Activities. Mt. Ranier Maryland: Gryphon House Inc. ISBN 0-87659-107-1

Bishop, Denise (2000.) Independent Life Skills Trays. Phoenix Arizona: The Foundation For Blind Children. ISBN: 1-930178-01-8.

Leary, Bernadette and von Schneden, Margaret (1982.) "Simon Says" Is Not The Only Game. New York, New York: American Foundation For The Blind. ISBN: 0-89128-109-6

Redleaf, Rhoda (1987.) Teachables II: Homemade Toys That Teach. St. Paul Minnesota: Toys "˜N' Things Press. ISBN: 0-934140-41-3.

Nielsen, Lilli (1979.) The Comprehending Hand. Copenhagen, Denmark : Socialstyrelsen-National Board of Social Welfare.

Nielsen, Lilli, (1992.) Space and Self. Copenhagen, Denmark: Sikon. ISBN: 87-503-9566-1.

Nielsen, Lilli (1992.) Educational Approaches. Copenhagen, Denmark: Sikon. ISBN: 87-503-9568-8.

Gilbert, Labritta (1989.) Do Touch: Instant, Easy Hands-On Learning Experiences For Young Children. Mt. Rainier, Maryland: Gryphon House.

Chmela, Harriet; Mitchell, Grace and Dewsnap, Lois (1992.) I Am! I Can! A Preschool Curriculum. Activities For The Classroom. Chelsea, Mass.: TelShare Publishing Company, Inc.

Gettman, David (1987.) Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under Five. New York, New York, St. Martin Press Inc ISBN: 0-312-01215-2.

Kids Who Are Different

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids who don't always get A's.

The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers,

And noses that go on for days.

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids they call crazy and dumb.

The kids who aren't cute and don't give a hoot,

Who dance to a different drum.

Here's to the kids who are different,

The kids with the mischievous streak.

For when they have grown,

As history's shown,

It's their difference that makes them unique.

By: Digby Wolf

http://www.magicinterludes.net/differentkids.html

Excerpts From An Article On The "Mothering" Website: Article About Home-made Toys

http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0838/1999_July/59116009/p1/article.jhtml

"Some of the kites took to the air with ease, and some of them never got aloft no matter what flying strategies were used. Other kites appeared incapable of flight, but suddenly became airborne when a child made a slight adjustment to the strut or the tail or the tension on the string. When these reluctant kites finally went up, there was much rejoicing along with animated explanations of kite-flying strategies. As kites rose and fell, heated debates arose about what makes a kite fly well, followed by vows to make even more aerodynamic kites in the future. The kids' sense of pride in their kites was palpabie. No store-bought kites could have brought these children as close to the mystery and physics of flight as their own creations."

Continued…

"When we give children the chance to play with homemade toys, we give them more than just toys. The boy who observes his sister gradually constructing a treehouse comes to understand the meaning of patience and careful workmanship. The friends who make a tent out of blankets and chairs intuitively grasp the meaning of self-reliance; they know how to construct their own amusements. The girl who creates an entire airport out of shoe boxes, paper cups, and pipe cleaners learns to value her creativity. Her planes take to the air and fly further than any adult would have foreseen, propelled by her own vision and wisdom."

The Case For Functional Skills

He is 18 years old, TMH (30-40 I.Q.) and has been in school 12 years. He has had a number of years of "individual instruction" and he has learned to do a lot of things!

He can now do lots of things he couldn't do before!

He can put 100 pegs in a board in less than 10 minutes while in his seat with 95% accuracy.
But he can't put quarters in vending machines.

Upon command he can "touch" nose, shoulder, leg, foot, hair, ear. He's still working on wrist, ankle, hips.
But, he can't blow his nose when needed.

He can now do a 12 piece Big Bird puzzle with 100 percent accuracy and color an Easter Bunny and stay in the lines!
But, he prefers music, but was never taught how to use a radio or record player.

He can now fold primary paper in halves and even quarters.
But, he can't fold his clothes.

He can sort blocks by color, up to 10 different colors!
But, he can't sort clothes; white from colors for washing.

He can roll Play Dough and make wonderful clay snakes!
But he can't roll bread dough and cut out biscuits.

He can string beads in alternating colors and match it to a pattern on a DLM card.
But, he can't lace his shoes.

He can sing his ABC's and tell me names of all the letters of the alphabet when presented on a card in upper case with 80 percent accuracy.
But, he can't tell the men's room from the ladies' room when we go to McDonald's.

He can be told it's cloudy/rainy and take a black felt cloud and put it on the day of the week on an enlarged calendar (with assistance.)
But he still goes out in the rain without a raincoat or hat.

He can identify with 100 percent accuracy 100 different Peabody Picture Cards by pointing!
But he can't order a hamburger by pointing to a picture or gesturing.

He can walk a balance beam frontwards, sideways and backwards!
But he can't walk up the steps or bleachers unassisted in the gym to go to a basketball game.

He can count to 100 by rote memory!
But he doesn't know how many dollars to pay the waitress for a $2.59 McDonald's coupon special.

He can put the cube in the box, under the box, beside the box, and behind the box.
But he can't find the trash bin in McDonald's and empty his trash into it.

He can sit in a circle with appropriate behavior and sing songs and play "Duck, Duck, Goose."
But, nobody else in his neighborhood his age seems to want to do that. I guess he's just not ready yet.

By: Preston Lewis

http://members.tripod.com/~imaware/functional.html

By Edgenie Bellah, Family Support, Texas Deafblind Project

Abstract: This article provides a brief overview of person-centered planning and shares three parents' stories about how they are using the tool to plan for their child's future.


When children have disabilities such as deafblindness, sometimes it is hard to envision their long-term future. Having information and connections to individuals who can serve as role models is helpful, but ultimately each family must create a personal dream for the future that is based on their loved-one's interests, talents and available community supports. There are a number of tools that have been developed to help families and significant people influencing the individual's life create a positive vision for the future. One such tool is person-centered planning as process often referred to as mapping because it creates visual images to reflect the person's life experience and path.

On September 18-20, 2003, I joined three other parents from Texas in Tampa, Florida for the annual parent workshop sponsored by The National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults who are Deaf-Blind (NTAC) and National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB). This year's training focused on person-centered planning as a tool to help parents plan for all the transitions their child with deaf-blindness might experience from birth through adulthood. Person-centered planning is not new. As Keith Fansler, one of the parents from Texas, pointed out to me in a later conversation, parents create maps for all of their children's futures.

According to Dr. Beth Mount (1991), person-centered planning:

  • Works to support the contribution of each person in local community life
  • Finds and develops the gifts, strengths and talents of each person
  • Develops a vision that expresses these gifts
  • Builds a support group to make these ideals happen
  • Builds a community network of acceptance
  • Changes services to be more responsive to the interests of people

While there is much written about the benefits of person-centered planning, the most meaningful way to gain a true picture is through the words of parents who have already experienced this process. The first story below is written by Corry Hill, who is the Family Specialist for the Utah Deafblind Project and NFADB Region 8 Regional Director. Corry shared her story, written in 1994 after her family's initial experience, at the kickoff of the training. Her story inspired me to ask the parents from Texas who went through the training to share their experiences. Two of these parents are Keith Fansler of Amarillo and Melanie Knapp of Missouri City.

Corry's Story

I am the mother of an adorable six-year-old daughter, Laurie Lynn Hill, who just so happens to have a dual sensory impairment and is multiply handicapped. Before I had experiences with mapping, I would introduce Laurie as someone who couldn't talk, walk, eat and who couldn't hear or see very well. Futures Planning helped everyone who works with Laurie and myself view her as a whole person with strengths as well as weaknesses.

Those people who have worked with Laurie have always been good, but prior to Personal Futures Planning (Maps), it felt like a disjointed effort. Each person was concentrating on what Laurie couldn't do or what she needed to learn in their own specific fields. For example, the OT's goals were written before she had met Laurie, written directly from a text book, not changed for two years, and not incorporated with anything else in Laurie's school day.

We were first introduced to futures planning at a deaf-blind conference in 1992. Our family attended a session learning about Maps and then the conference broke into small groups to actually make some maps. We had the privilege of using Laurie as the example. In attendance at that group were several people who worked with Laurie, both directly and indirectly, including her teacher, intervener and several service providers. We began by creating a Background Map. Laurie's intervener, her father and I were the major contributors because we had known her all her life. By the time that map was finished I felt the group begin to have some cohesiveness. We were at a common starting point. Everyone in the room knew of Laurie's struggle to live and we all looked at her with the "same eyes." While creating the Relationship Map we were all pleased to discover the many people who worked with and cared for Laurie. I was especially pleased while the Preferences Map was being created to see everyone giving input. They knew Laurie better than I thought they did, and we came up with even more "things that work" than "things that don't." Service providers wrote down specific ideas to try that they didn't know about before, things that someone else had success with. The Dream for the Future Map was the hardest for me to work on. It is difficult for me to dream for an uncertain future. Everyone in the room was very encouraging and urged us to dream high. We were very proud of our accomplishments as a group. Three years later a speech therapist commented that mapping session helped her greatly and was the best thing she had ever seen. Even though Laurie's maps have been updated many times, I still have those original maps and cherish them.

After the mapping session, I noticed a change in all those who had been part of the process. Fences were down - it was no longer us against them, but a team with everybody an equal partner. The attitude toward Laurie was positive. That is, everyone treating her as a whole person and sharing ideas about how to achieve goals together.

Keith's story

The Fansler family has been in the deafblind business going on sixteen years now. My wife, Leslie, and I have been together for a little more than seventeen years. We have two sons. Our oldest son, Chance, is a junior in high school. Chance is a ranked fencer and on the varsity wrestling team. Preston, our youngest son, was born blind and is now carrying the deafblind label. Labels — you've got to love them. Preston loves the water and is a gold medalist bowler in the Special Olympics. He has several jobs, one of which requires him to swim for his paycheck. We are longtime members of Deafblind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT) and NFADB. For several years, I served as Member-At-Large and Vice-President of DBMAT. I also have attended the NTAC-NFADB parent trainings since one of the earliest trainings in St. Louis.

This NTAC-NFADB parent training was a little different than the ones I attended in the past. They had me moderate our group's mapping process. I had been to a session on mapping before, but we have never done it for our son, Preston. It was amazing to see how much information our group came up with for the lady who was picked to have her child be the focus of our mapping training. This was the first time our group had met. We were total strangers. I loved the experience I had with moderating. It let me see how easy it really is to build a program on a child's strengths and not his/her weaknesses. Our group built a program for a total stranger based on her likes and dislikes. Just think of what you can do for your family member or even somebody you know. Being the moderator gave me the confidence I need to do a mapping on my son. If you think about it, we all do person-centered planning for ourselves. Leslie and I have done person-centered planning with our oldest son, Chance. To an extent, we have done it with Preston. We try to find jobs and activities that coincide with what he likes, not with things he does not like.

The only problem I see with mapping is getting everybody together at the same time, so it might take two or maybe more sessions. You might want to break it down into groups, like family and friends, professionals, church and community. Getting your person-centered planning ideas into the IEP can be a challenge, but it is a must. I hope to be starting a mapping process on Preston soon because I learned it is never too early or too late to do mapping. My advice to all parents is to map throughout your child's life so you will know where you have been and where you are going.

Melanie's Story

Christian was born in July of 1980, the second son to Gary and myself. We were told we might have a premature birth, but never in my wildest nightmares were we prepared for what was to come. After his birth at 28 weeks gestation, Christian spent his first two years in the hospital. I can't even remember how many surgeries he had or how many times we almost lost him. As a result of his prematurity and long hospitalization, Christian had numerous medical difficulties. He is now 23 years old. He is deafblind. He is incredibly strong, and has a great sense of humor (Knapp humor). He also is a really good-looking guy. Christian has a wonderful big brother, Landon...and now a sister-in-law, Christi. Christian thinks Christi is HIS girlfriend. I am the Momma, and Gary is Dad. We have had tremendous family support over the years. Christian is in his last year of school. He has made AMAZING progress over the last three years. He understands a lot of sign language. We have had many years of incredible support from his educational team.

A few years ago, David Wiley and Craig Axelrod came to our home. We went through the person-centered planning process for Christian then. It was just the four of us that night. So many events have taken place in our lives and Christian's life since then.

What did I learn from my training in Tampa? Well, I volunteered Christian to be the focus person. While I was quite proud of myself, I realized during the process that since I was the only one that knew Christian, it was a very subjective mapping. The training did give me the tools to take on a better, less subjective mapping, and it was up to me to make it happen for real.

Upon my return home, I was determined to have a person-centered planning party. Gary and I were happy with how many people were able to make it. I invited the family that was in town: Landon and Christi, Mimi, Aunt Cheryl. A few members of my family were unable to come for the first meeting, but hopefully will jump on the wagon next time. Chantel Simon (Christian's caregiver) was there as was Ann Bielert (his intervener), Mrs. Parker (his classroom teacher), and Gloria Vaughn (his vision teacher through the years). I was ecstatic that Craig Axelrod, David Wiley, and Edgenie Bellah from Texas Deafblind Outreach at TSBVI wanted to help.

I think the mapping process went great. We had so much input from everyone, not just from me. The process was also therapeutic. There were a few tears and a lot of laughs. I definitely feel like the mapping was a success.

What came out of our first meeting is a plan. We have looked at what Christian would want, what he would want to do as work, where he would want to spend his time, and who he would like to spend it with. We have determined as a team what will work for him and what won't work. We have already put our plan into action. Christian now owns a small vending machine and has started training with it at school to learn how to stock it. When he graduates, we will move this one to his Dad's office. Who knows? He may become quite the vending machine entrepreneur!

Other Resources

These stories are far from ending. Families will continue to build upon their initial dream through ongoing mapping. Just like you and I, the dream is ever evolving in response to our actual experiences and changing needs and interests. I want to thank each of the parents for sharing their personal stories about their recent learning experiences and for allowing me to tag along for the wonderful journey they are on with their families.For a more detailed description of planning for adult life for individuals with multiple disabilities such as deafblindness, be sure to read the article, When Planning for Adult Life, How is a "Life-style" Different than a "Program"? by David Wiley on page 29. Families are also welcome to call the Texas Outreach program for assistance in developing a person-centered plan. Kate Moss and David Wiley have written A Brief Guide to Personal Futures Planning, Organizing Your Community to Envision and Build a Desirable Future With You: a paper that provides an overview and step-by-step directions for the process. The Outreach Program is also available to help with individual plans.

 

Originally published in See/Hear Winter 2004. 

Originally published in Summer 2001 See/Hear
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Edgenie Bellah, BVICP Consultant, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commission for the Blind)

and Kate Moss, Family Specialist, TSBVI, Texas Deafblind Outreach

One of the simple truths in life is that parents are their children's first teachers and advocates. Parents of children with visual impairment, deafness, and deafblindness face unique challenges with these dual roles. To work confidently alongside their child's professional team members, whose expertise comes from years of education and ongoing training, parents need training opportunities themselves. They need opportunities to expand their own knowledge base about their child's medical and physical needs, special education law, transition, resources, communication, orientation and mobility, and much, much more.

We are fortunate in Texas to have many such training opportunities for parents. Some come from within the school system, local Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commission for the Blind) offices, and Regional Education Service Centers. Others are offered on a statewide basis by TSBVI Outreach, DBMAT, and others, such as Texas Focus, the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness, DBMAT Family Conference, and the Technology Institute. Available training is sometimes specific, focusing on visual impairment or deafblindness. At other times it may address more generic issues such as special education laws, transition issues, and estate planning. Many parents will have opportunities to learn about the syndrome or medical condition that caused their child's disabilities through state and national conferences such as the CHARGE Syndrome Conference, the Texas Usher Syndrome Family Retreat, the Shaken Baby Syndrome workshops, and other similar events.

There are so many available training opportunities that it is often hard for parents to choose among them each year. Unfortunately, many times the deciding factor has to do with whether or not they have the resources to pay for registration, travel, and child care expenses associated with the events. The majority of parents must depend totally on scholarships or training funds. In recent years funding for these activities has decreased and the number of people wanting to access training funds has increased. Event planners struggle to make sure all that the families who want to participate have the support they need to attend. Still, many times parents can't find the resources they need when they need them.

What can be done?

Event organizers

Get the word out early

Event organizers need to get the word out on training opportunities well in advance of the event. By sharing training event announcements with the ESCs, TSBVI, and TCB so they can be included in their training calendars and on their websites, parents know where to go to find out about training opportunities. This also helps families plan ahead about when and where to get funding. The TSBVI website maintains a statewide calendar of training opportunities for both families and professionals. We welcome any submissions to this calendar. To share your workshop announcements, contact Kate Hurst at (512) 206-9224, or through e-mail at

Contact possible funding resources in the initial stages of planning

Learn about possible resources to help you offer travel and registration funding to families, and contact them in the initial stages of planning. The Texas Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities allows event organizers to write a request proposal for funding to help families attend training. Local Lions Clubs and other civic organizations often have funds they are willing to contribute to cover these types of costs. Some school districts and Education Service Centers may have limited dollars to help sponsor families, if they are notified of the event early enough.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Collaborate with local, regional, and state agencies and organizations to provide the support families need to participate in training. This might mean asking a local scout troop to help provide child care at the event, or seeing if a local grocery or restaurant will donate food. The agencies may not be able to pay for family travel, but might agree to share the cost of a speaker or other expense. The more contributors there are to an event for various individual costs, the more funding may be directed to help with travel and childcare needs.

Register immediately and indicate an interest in funding assistance

Too often parents don't ask for help until it is too late to access available training funds. Training events typically have set budgets for assisting families with travel and registration costs. Decisions about who will receive available funds are often made shortly after the registration deadline. Parents who do not get their registration forms in ahead of deadlines often miss out.

Agencies such as Texas Department of Assisstive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commission for the Blind) have state paperwork requirements that make last minute requests problematic. All TCB services, including training for parents, has to be part of plan that is developed with the family. Sometimes funds requested at the last minute can only be provided on a reimbursement basis. This means that parents will not be able to attend if they can't afford the upfront costs or wait a month for the processing of reimbursement checks.

Sometimes parents are hesitant about signing up for a workshop until the last minute because they are unsure of their ability to attend due to a child's health, family work schedule, or other life event. Most conference planners can cancel a hotel reservation, airline tickets, and so forth at the last minute, but it is often very difficult to make these arrangements even a week before the event. Most hotels have special rates for reservations made during a set period of time. Airline tickets purchased very early tend to be cheaper than those purchased at the last minute. If parents think there is any chance they can attend a workshop, it is better to get the registration in on time and make travel plans early. Of course, parents should check with individual funding sources and conference or workshop planners to find out about cancellation policies.

Stay up-to-date on training opportunities and prioritize training needs

Parents and other interested family members should check these resources regularly to learn about training opportunities that are being planned. Make a list of any training events that seem useful, and contact the organizers to get registration information. Ask them about funding to assist with event costs and learn how these funds can be accessed. Prioritize the events based on training needs and your schedule. If you can select only one or two events each year, be sure it will meet your training needs and be held at a time and place you can access.

Contact funding sources well in advance

Contact funding resources well in advance of the event to let them know about your interest in attending. Find out if they anticipate having funds available. For example, TSBVI Outreach typically has a travel budget for each of its sponsored events. Outreach policy is to spread the funding out as far as it will go. Knowing how many families need to access these funds makes it easier to plan distribution.

Know what you will need before you ask

Think about the type of support you will need and be familiar with the approximate costs of these supports. This may mean prioritizing costs. What parts could you pay for if no other source was available? What items are less likely to find a different funding source? Not everyone can pay for airline tickets, but many people are able to pay for gas charges or meals. How much will the hotel room cost? Is the whole family flying to the event, or, if you must drive a long way, will you need an extra night of hotel costs? The clearer you can be about your exact needs, the easier it is for funding resources to identify how they can help.

Learn about various funding resources

Become familiar with local funding resources and other supports. Your local Lions Clubs, Soroptimist Clubs, Elks Clubs and other civic organizations may have money to help cover some of the cost of travel and registration. If you are receiving services from MHMR or through Texas Department of Health or Texas Department of Human Services, they may be able to assist with respite care, child care, or other costs associated with attending training. Generally your TCB caseworker can help you identify local and regional resources. Of course, both TCB and TSBVI Outreach are resources for families. Make a list of all the possible resources in your area so you know whom to call when you need help. This is something you can also share with other parents who may not know where to go for help.

Think of creative ways to get the support you need

Get creative! If you have friends or family members who might be able to help with some part of the expense, offer to trade favors. For example, baby sit their children in exchange for their baby sitting services while you are at the training. Help them with some needed task in exchange for gas money. Set aside a few dollars each month to use for incidental expenses at these events. Remember the pocket change jar your parents might have kept? Even if you only have ten dollars set aside when you want to go to training that can help pay for a meal or buy some gas. One family cleaned out their garage and had a garage sale to get money together to help with travel to a national conference.

Look for training that doesn't require a lot of funding

Check out training opportunities that don't require travel expenses. For example, is your local school district offering training? More training opportunities are now being offered through distance learning methods such as Internet courses, correspondence courses, videotapes, etc. Sometimes just meeting with another parent to talk about issues and share ideas can be an incredibly beneficial training experience. Think about organizing a small "coffee klatch" of parents or plan a family picnic in the neighborhood park with several other families. Not all training has to involve going to a workshop or conference.

Address training needs as a part of your child's ARD

Look to your local school district for providing individualized training related to the implementation of your child's IEP. When you are having your child's ARD, talk about your training needs and the training needs of staff working with your child. Parent training is a related service as defined by IDEA. Some of your training needs may be met by school staff working with you at your school or in your home. In some cases, if they are asked, your Regional ESC or TSBVI Outreach may be able to bring training to your school program or at least to your community.

Don't forget that you may be able to provide training as well as receive it. This can be a help to members of your child's team who need to learn about the ways you have been successful in working with your child. Consider what you can offer to your team, to help them learn about the special ways you feed your child, how you communicate, what you do to comfort him when he is frightened or cranky. After all, you are an expert about your child.

The most important element is to get training needs spelled out in the IEP and discuss the resources for meeting these training needs as a regular part of your ARD meeting. Schools can then plan ahead and budget if they are trying to help pay for part of your training costs.

Conclusion

Parent and family training is an important part of helping a child with visual impairments and deafblindness. Unfortunately, not every parent who wants to access training will be able to do so. It is important to plan ahead and be familiar with the resources that are available to help in this effort. Please think about your family's training needs and start planning today for the 2001-2002 school year.