Created by Chrissy Cowan, TSBVI Outreach, and Cindy Bachofer, TSBVI Short Term Programs
The It Bugs Me game is a self-advocacy activity we created for a group of elementary-aged students with low vision participating in a TSBVI Short Term program called Low Vision Tools and Strategies. The objective of the game is for students to role play verbal responses they could use with people who may sometimes make insensitive remarks about an individual’s vision, appearance of the eyes, or visual adaptations, or in situations where they feel others don’t understand their abilities. An individual student draws a card with a situation explained and the student reads the card to the group. Each card begins with the stem, “It bugs me when….”. (see photos 1 and 2) For example, “It bugs me when I’m reading an overhead menu with my telescope in a restaurant and the person behind me tells me to hurry up.”
Situations can occur in the community, school, or at home. The student thinks of a reply that is both informative and respectful, and shares this with the group. Students are asked to place themselves in the situation on the card if they have not had personal experience with the scenario selected. Other students determine if the response given is reasonable, effective, and respectful by indicating with a thumb up or thumb down signal. Players are encouraged to offer advice and this often leads to shared stories, examples of comments given in frustration, or personal insights. If the group agrees, the student gets to pick a plastic bug from the bug bag and takes a step forward on a giant game board taped to the floor (brightly colored squares form rays of the sun leading to the sparkly circle at the center; see photo 3). The objective is to reach the inner circle together, empowered with some new solutions to buggy situations. In addition to eliciting valuable conversations within the group, this game helped the kids realize that awkward situations are a commonality among students with a visual impairment, and there are tactful ways for dealing with these situations in the moment.
Photo 1: Examples of Situations
Photo 2: Student draws a situation card
Photo 3: Interactive game board