2022 Holiday Gift Ideas

Authors: Information from the National Braille Press Website, Summarized by Ann Adkins, VI Education Specialist, TSBVI Outreach Program

Keywords: National Braille Press, gifts, holidays, literacy, textbooks, cookbooks, book club

Abstract: When gift-giving holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and birthdays arrive, the families of students with visual impairments, multiple disabilities, or who are deafblind often have questions about finding gifts that are appropriate. This article describes the variety of gifts available from National Braille Press (NBP)—and not all of them are books!

Many readers are familiar with National Braille Press as a source for braille books, especially textbooks. They also provide a variety of other books, however, for all ages and reading levels. This includes fiction and nonfiction books that may be required for school assignments or for personal reading enjoyment. In addition, they offer a variety of print/braille books that have both print and braille on the same page, allowing students with visual impairments to read along with someone who is sighted. These print/braille books include cookbooks, self-help books, poetry, periodicals, braille/tactile maps, tactile graphics, a book of science activities for elementary students, a human anatomy book for older students, and technology guides for braille users. NBP also has books about Louis Braille that are great for sighted friends and family members, and Braille for the Sighted that includes activities and games. Books are always an excellent gift! 

One book that is a popular gift for students with visual impairments is the cookbook, Stir It Up: Recipes and Techniques for Young Blind Cooks. Be sure to add braille measuring cups and spoons, also available from NBP. 

Subscriptions also make great gifts! NBP’s Children’s Braille Book Club is the only monthly book club offering popular children’s books in a print/braille format, for the same price as the print books! Purchase a 6-month or 12-month subscription to the Book Club on NBP’s website

Books, such as those described above, are only one of the ways that the National Braille Press promotes literacy—and are only one example of appropriate gifts for students with visual impairments. NBP also has a variety of programs supporting braille literacy for children of all ages and their families. Participation in these programs offers another way to look at gift-giving. Consider joining or sharing information on these programs: 

  • Bumpy Basics: Board Books! This program uses board books of popular children’s books, in print and braille, to introduce toddlers to literacy.
  • The ReadBooks! Program is a national children’s braille literacy program that  encourages families with blind children to read print/braille books together. They distribute free book bags of beginning braille materials to families with blind children, ages birth through seven, across the United States and Canada. Limit of one braille book bag per child per lifetime. What a great gift a braille book bag would be for a beginning reader!
  • Great Expectations: Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids is a program created to help parents and teachers bring picture books to life for blind children. There are currently eight featured books in this program, and each of them relates to a specific theme, such as food, emotions, money, colors, etc. Each book also comes with a bonus tactile toy or manipulative related to the theme of the book, and there are free online activities for each book. The books themselves are $18–19. This is a great resource for both educators and families, as well as a wonderful gift idea. 

Readers may be surprised that books and reading programs are not the only things found on the website of the National Braille Press! The NBP Bookstore has so many more gift ideas, including braille puzzles, mazes, alphabet cards, maps, and magnetic braille letters and numbers. There is also a large variety of print/braille magnets with encouraging and entertaining quotations from both famous and not-so-famous authors. They include memorable quotes about friendship, famous quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, and Buddha, and even an Irish blessing. There’s even a magnet with a quote from Euripedes for family members, “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives!” Each magnet  is only six dollars. They make great stocking stuffers and affordable gifts for everyone on your gift list, including your child’s teachers! 

Some VERY popular gifts from National Braille Press are braille jewelry. NBP offers a variety of necklaces and bracelets with engraved sayings such as Believe, Thankful, Grace, Strong and more. They’re engraved in both contracted and uncontracted braille on silver, copper and porcelain. Wish bracelets, in anti-tarnish stainless steel with a leather band, will convey your holiday wish for a favorite person with an expression such as Peace, Faith, or Hope. Each wish bracelet comes with a gift box and card.

Another popular gift is NBP’s newest print/braille calendar, Peanuts “Happiness Is…” for 2023. Each month has a different “Happiness is…” quote to remind the recipient of all the ways to express “happiness.”

In addition to gifts, don’t forget holiday cards. Holiday cards in a print/braille format are available for both Christmas and Valentines. Limited numbers of cards from previous holiday seasons are also available. Sending cards where the messages appear in both print and braille, side-by-side, as equals, conveys an exciting and powerful message.

After the holiday or birthday, don’t forget to support your child or student in writing thank you notes. Acknowledging gifts provides the perfect opportunity to work on both writing skills and social skills. An important reminder: December 26th is “National Thank You Note Day!” 

Note: Readers are encouraged to enjoy Emily Coleman’s article, “Bringing the Expanded Core Curriculum Into Your Holidays with Your Blind or Visually Impaired Child” in the Effective Practices Section of this issue of TX SenseAbilities. Emily offers fun and entertaining suggestions for incorporating all nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum into holiday activities. Emily’s suggestions include activities for students of all ages and abilities and ones that students can enjoy on their own as well as things to do together with friends and family.  

Emily adds “one final word of hard-earned advice” in relation to gifts and toys that are purchased for students with visual impairments. As a parent as well as an educator, Emily is aware of the potential problems that may be encountered when trying to open holiday gifts. That is not the time to teach children how to open and manipulate packaging. In “Toys and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired,” another article from APH FamilyConnect, she explains: “Be sure to take those toys out of the packaging before you wrap them! Isn’t it better to have the final result of all that unwrapping be a toy and not a package? It can take quite a while to get toys out of the packaging these days, so I don’t want him waiting while I find the essentials to access the toy (i.e. scissors, screwdriver, jackhammer).”

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