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Games for Students with Visual Impairments

When thinking of school breaks, it gives us time to do some of the activities we often don’t have time for during our busy school week..

Written by: Lisha Yochimowitz

Uno braille playing cards with large print

When thinking of school breaks, it gives us time to do some of the activities we often don’t have time for during our busy school week. Making time for a game night, peer game activity, or summer vacation family time is not only making great memories but creating opportunities for learning many important goals. Goals that can include taking turns, counting/math skills, problem solving, matching, reading practice, and socialization with peers in a fun setting. AFB (American Federation for the Blind) has a article that has a great list of game options too.

Game Options

Dice and Playing Cards

The best place to start when talking about games is dice and cards.  There are large print cards and dice that are easier to see as well as braille cards and dice. 

Dice can be purchased with larger print, with large print numbers, tactile dots, and even braille numbers.

large dice option link Dice with numbers link Tactile dice link

Playing Cards

Large print and braille cards are great for everyone to use. The braille cards often have both print and braille on them so they are something everyone can use together.

Playing cards in print and braille link Uno cards with braille link Large print playing cards link

Examples and Links to Games

There are some great options when looking to purchase games that have the adapations your child/student may need to participate. Here are some to be aware of:

Lakeshore is my “go to” place when looking for educational games for preschool and elementary aged students. Though their prices can be higher, their materials are nicely made and their games are developmentally based. I have found that many materials are accessible or need little adaptions. Here is one example:

I know the Answer Buzzer Game with link

Maxi Aids is my go to place when looking for games in general. When parents ask about gifts, I tell them to look here. They have a bunch of great games adapted for the blind and visually impaired including:

American Printing House

APH has a long list of games that are educational based for both indoor and outdoor. Many qualify for Federal Quota in the USA . Here are a few examples:

Raised line board for games with link

AFB (American Federation for the Blind) has an article that has a great list of game options too. This inlcudes chess, checkers, braille monopoly, and textured dominoes.

Adapting Games

Adapting games that need braille, larger print cues, and/or tactile discriminators doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.

Teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) are usually glad to help adapt games by putting braille on them for their students. You can also do this yourself even if you are not a braille user. There are labels and braille stickers you can purchase or if your braille child is able, ask them to team up and do it together.

Braille Label Maker

I have used this over the years because it is a quick way to get a braille label on items and doesn’t cost a lot.

The Braille Superstore  has the label maker at the cheapest price but you can also look on Maxiaids and Amazon. The Braille Superstore also has bumpy dot stickers, puffy paint, and clear sheets of braille labeling paper that has a sticky back and can be cut to size.

American Printing House (APH) is where I have purchased these sheets in the past.

Braille label maker with instructional link

Tactile Discriminators

Puffy paint, hot glue, wikki sticks, and raised dot stickers are all great to items to use when making tactile discriminators on game boards, cards, and other materials that may require them. You can often find great bumpy stickers at the Dollar Store if you are on a budget.

APH has a variety of stickers that include braille and different raised textures. You can also do a Google search for bumpy stickers you will find a great variety to purchase.

Bumpy dot stickers found on Amazon link

Tips to Adapting Games Article

games for students with visual impairments

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20 Activities for the Visually Impaired

20 Activities for the Visually Impaired

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People with vision impairment will often require help with every day tasks they could once complete on their own. They may also require support to enable them to stay in touch with the community, friends and their leisure pursuits.

People with vision impairment will often require help with every day tasks they could once complete on their own. They may also require support to enable them to stay in touch with the community, friends and their leisure pursuits.

Age-related vision loss is common as we grow older and can often be corrected with spectacles, eye drops, surgery and other medications. Some eye conditions however, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and other diseases may evolve into blindness or partial-blindness presenting considerable challenges to those affected.

Most people with disabilities wish to be as independent as possible.

Barriers confronting people with vision impairment:

Tips for communicating with visually impaired people

20 Activities for Vision Impaired People

1. Read Aloud Find out what sort of books they like and read to them.

2. Talking Books Borrow 'Talking Books' from your local library.

3. Share Jokes Amuse each other with jokes. Related: Jokes to Share

4. Tactile Games Play tactile Dominos or Tic-Tac-Toe.

5. Go out for coffee Take them to a coffee shop once a week for exercise and sensory stimulation.

6. Air Dry Clay Encourage them to work with air dry clay; use moulds or create a special memento. Related: Air Dry Clay Activities

7. Join a Social Group Invite your client to join a group of other vision impaired people for support and socialization.

8. Find a volunteer Seek out a volunteer for regular visits and companionship.

9. Pet Therapy

Find out what sort of pets they like and invite someone with docile pets to visit.

Related: Pet Therapy in Nursing Homes

10. Gentle Exercise Aqua aerobics or yoga with clear verbal instructions is popular for fitness and pleasure.

Related: Gentle Chair Exercises

11. Listen to the Radio Local radio is a source of exciting and interesting programs. Search for:

Related: Free music playlists for the elderly

12. Gardening Buy a couple of pots, potting mixture and some herb seeds; parsley, basil, thyme. Caring for plants is very therapeutic.

13. Make a Salad Supervise them as they prepare themselves a fruit or vegetable salad.

Related: How to Start a Garden Club for Seniors

14. Enjoy Trivia Games Share quizzes, word games and riddles from Golden Carers.

Related: Quizzes to Share

15. Go for a walk A walk in the park with a partner for the sights and sounds of nature.

16. Go fishing! Find a safe pontoon in your local city for safe fishing. Outdoor sports are good for the body and mind.

17. Create a Bird Sanctuary Engage clients to help create a bird sanctuary in your backyard.

Related: How to create a backyard bird habitat

18. Visit some children Ring your local nursery school and enquire whether you can take a client for a visit. The laughter and voices of children can lift spirits.

19. Decorate Cookies Engage and assist your client to decorate cookies; place icing on one cookie and top with another cookie.

20. Cook Something Cook something together; the client can break eggs into a bowl, measure sugar and flour, stir. Cooking together provides the opportunity for wonderful conversations & sensory stimulation.

Related: Cooking with the Elderly: Recipes to try

Books to Support and Inspire the Vision Impaired

For clients that still have some vision, buy good magnifying glasses. Otherwise borrow 'Talking Books' or seek volunteers to read aloud twice a week for 30 minutes.

What activities have you found to work well for visually impaired clients?

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Engage Your Visually Impaired Kid in these Fun Activities

Keeping kids engaged in productive and fun activities is important not only from the viewpoint of their overall development but also to keep them from becoming bored. Children, especially at their developing age, want to engage in something ‘new’ because they get bored easily from any activity. Children with visual impairment are no exception. As a parent, it is a tough task to constantly search for fun and productive activities suitable for a child with limited vision or no vision . To make your task a little easier, we have listed some fun activities that will keep your visually impaired child engaged and also help them build on some skills.

1. Making Different Shapes with Bold and Bright Colored Play-Doh

You can find zillions of toys in the market but nothing can replace the simple play-doh. Children enjoy playing with play-doh because it allows them to unleash their creative imagination. If your child has limited vision you can choose bold and bright colored play-doh to make their experience more fun. Even if your child cannot distinguish between different colored doh, they can enjoy making different shapes out of it. Play-doh is something that puts no boundaries on imagination. So, encourage your child to play with play-doh and make them understand different shapes.

2. Playing with Multi-coloured Jelly Balls

Call them magic beads, water beads, orbeez or whatever, one thing remains the same – they are fun to play with! The magical beads that start their journey as tiny hard balls and grow many times their size by absorbing water are also called ‘sensory balls’ for a reason. Your visually impaired child will love the feel of these jelly balls and can be kept engaged for a good amount of time. The bright colors of the jelly balls are also an attractive feature for those who can perceive some colors.

3. Gardening

Engaging your visually impaired child in gardening at a young age is a very good idea because it will help them in developing their senses of touch and smell. Gardening gives a very soothing feeling and can turn into your child’s favorite time pass for their entire life. Let your child touch the leaves, feel the stem and smell the flowers. Try to incorporate different types of plants in your little garden to make your child’s experience varied. You might like to choose plants without thorns though.

4. Helping Around in Household Chores

You might see household chores as ‘work’ but for young children, they are fun activities because they get to know about so many ‘new’ things. Don’t force your visually impaired child to stay away from the household chores, instead encourage them to help you in whatever little way they can. This will not only introduce your child to the environment around them but will also give them confidence and a sense of independence . Explain to them the function of things, let them touch and feel the difference between different things. When you go shopping let them feel and distinguish between different currencies and explain how they are used to buy things. There are lots of things that children pick up intuitively but a visually impaired child will need your intervention to make them understand those things.

a girl with visual impairment smiling and buttering the toast

5. Playing a Musical Instrument

You can engage your visually impaired child in playing any musical instrument. Anyone wanting to play a musical instrument needs to see through their fingers and not eyes (not literally) . When your child already uses her fingers to feel objects around her you can expect her to have an edge over other sighted-children of her age. If music attracts your child, you should definitely enroll her in a music class.

6. Playing Tactile Games

One of the most important skills a child with visual impairment needs to develop is the skill of touching something to understand the shape and the feel of the object. And obviously, you need to make things fun or your child will get bored easily. You can search for tactile board games available in online as well as offline markets . Your child will learn the required skill while having fun playing the games. It is more important if your child will need to learn braille for her studies. You can see this as an early preparation for her school.

7. Listening and Telling Stories

Stories are an integral part of any child’s development. Make it a habit to read or tell a story to your child. For a visually impaired child, it is more important to find a relatively quiet environment as it will help her concentrate on the story. Visually impaired children can get more easily distracted by surrounding sounds. As your child cannot see those pictures printed in the book, you need to make an extra effort to make the story entertaining. You can use voice modulation or create a ‘story box’ with objects used in the story . You should also encourage your child to tell stories out of her imagination.

8. Playing with Other Children

While you may want to keep your child safe and secure within your home, you should understand this is not going to happen forever. Encourage your child to socialize with other children as early as possible. You can take them to a park or a public library where she can find kids of her age. You may stay around for your child’s safety but do not become overprotective. Let your child mingle with other children and find a way out of any difficulty on her own. She will be happier and confident.

As a parent of a visually impaired child you just need to focus on filling the gap created by their lack of vision and let your child bloom like any other children of her age. If you want to add any other fun activity for a child with visual impairment that has not been discussed above, feel free to drop a comment.

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Vision Impairment | Chapter 5: Activities

Literacy instruction in braille.

Author:  Elmwood Visual Resource Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand

...Braille: Deciphering the Code... Every character in the braille code is based on an arrangement of one to six raised dots. Each dot has a numbered position in the braille cell. These characters make up the letters of the alphabet, punctuation marks, numbers, and everything else you can do in print. 

The Braille Cell


The letter "A" is written with only 1 dot.

1-dot Braille

The letter "D" has dots 1, 4, and 5.

Braille 3 Dot

The letter "Y" has dots 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Braille 5 -Dot

A "Period" is written with dots 2, 5, and 6. (Do you see how it is the same shape as the letter "D," only lower down in the cell?)

Period Dot

When all six dots are used, the character is called a "full cell"

 Braille Full Cell

The picture below shows you how the dots are arranged in the braille cell for each letter of the alphabet. See if you can find the letters in your name and tell the dot numbers for each one. 


Braille does not have a separate alphabet of capital letters as there is in print. Capital letters are indicated by placing a dot 6 in front of the letter to be capitalized. Two capital signs mean the whole word is capitalized. 


The Braille Number

  braille numbers.

Braille numbers are made using the first ten letters of the alphabet, "a" through "j", and a special number sign, dots 3, 4, 5, and 6. 

Braille Contractions

Expanding the Code

  expanding the code.

Now that you understand how dots are arranged in the braille cell to make the letters of the alphabet and numbers, you're ready to learn more about the code. Braille uses special characters called contractions to make words shorter. We use contractions like "don't" as a short way of writing two words, such as "do" and "not." In braille there are many additional contractions, 189 in all! Using these contractions saves space, which is very important because braille books are much larger and longer than print books. 

Braille Contractions

In addition to contractions, the braille code includes short-form words which are abbreviated spellings of common longer words. For example, "tomorrow" is spelled "tm", "friend" is spelled "fr", and "little" is spelled "ll" in braille.

You might think that because short-form words are so easy to spell that children who write braille get a break on their spelling tests. Actually, braille readers also learn regular spelling for typing on a computer. Let's see what kind of difference contractions make in braille. Look at the same phrase, you like him, in uncontracted braille (sometimes called "grade 1 braille") and contracted braille (sometimes called "grade 2 braille"). What do you notice about the length of the two phrases?

Uncontracted Braille

Other Braille Codes

The braille code used for writing regular text in books, magazines, school reports, and letters is known as "literary braille." There are other codes, though, that let people who are blind write just about anything, from math problems to music notes to computer notation! One More Comment About Braille People sometimes ask if it would be easier to use raised print alphabet letters, rather than dots. When you read about Louis Braille, you'll learn that raised print letters were tried in the early 1800s before he invented braille. However, these letters were very difficult to read by touch, and writing them was even more of a problem.

If you ever see an experienced reader's fingers gliding across a page of braille at 100-200 words per minute, you will appreciate the genius of the simple six-dot system. Braille can be read and written with ease by both children and adults. It is truly an invention that is here to stay. 

Classroom Activities

1. Happy Birthday, Louis! Have a celebration in honour of the inventor of braille on January 4. Decorate cookies, cupcakes, or a cake with braille letters made of M&Ms, gum drops, red-hots, chocolate chips, or other candy. Decorate with a braille banner or posters, and balloons arranged to form braille letters. And, of course, play braille games!

2. Follow the Trail of Braille Write a simple message in braille, and cut between the words. Mount each word on a sheet of collared paper and post them randomly throughout the room, or around the school (e.g., above the water fountain, on the office door, etc.). The first student to figure out the message wins. You can do one each week, gradually increasing the complexity and length of the message.

3. Play Braille-O Lotto Duplicate a lotto sheet containing 5 rows of 5 squares for each student. Players print the letters of the alphabet in random order in the empty squares. Round pieces of cereal can be used for markers (or other game pieces can be used). The game can be played with varying levels of difficulty: 

4. Poster Contest Conduct a classroom—or school wide—poster contest with the theme of braille and what it means to those who use it. Award prizes for the most creative poster in each designated age group. Display posters on bulletin boards around the school. 5. "I Spy" Contest Contestants can be individuals, teams, or classrooms. The object is to find as many uses of braille in the community as possible. For younger children, the contest can begin on Monday and end on Friday; for older students, the contest can run for a month. Students receive an "I Spy Braille" scorecard with entry spaces for date, where the braille was found and what it communicated (e.g., elevator floors, ATMs at specific banks, soft drink cup lids, etc.), and a space for an adult signature. Points can be earned for the greatest number of places braille was found, as well as for unique entries.

Literacy Instruction for Students with Low Vision


Downloadable .pdf

Teacher’s Manual for Adapting Science Experiments for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

Authors:  Matthew Dion, Karen Hoffman, Amy Matter

Teaching Art

Promoting Active Participation

Art Ideas for Blind Children 

String, Yarn


Soap Carvings

Where to Get Ideas

Physical Education

Physical education, recreation and games for students with vision impairment.

Physical Education and Sport Classes - Some Considerations:

Activity Concerns and Possible Solutions:

continue to Chapter 6

WE C Hope

20 Outdoor Activities for Blind and Visually Impaired Children

Monday July 19, 2021

Nearly all children with retinoblastoma have some degree of sight loss arising from the cancer and its treatment.  Identifying outdoor activities they can fully engage with may be hard for families.  Bilateral Rb Survivor, Abby White , shares 20 classic and creative activities that include blind and visually impaired children and help connect them with the natural world.

A joyful young white girl in pale pink dress, extends both arms upwards, offering the peace hand gesture. The background is a blurred field of wild yellow flowers.

What do you have planned for this summer to help your child explore the natural world? This is a perfect time to engage the senses, get a bumper dose of Vitamin N, and develop new skills and confidence through play.

A little creativity and thoughtful adaptations will ensure children with sight loss are included in play and can connect deeply with nature.  They nurture curiosity, and open up worlds of knowledge and exploration that sighted children absorb without even realising.   We hope some of the following suggestions will help you and your child enjoy a deeper connection with nature this summer.

Connect with the Elements

1. plant something.

Growing shrubs, flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits such as tomato plants is a great way to learn about nature, and where food comes from.  Gardening is a wonderfully tactile learning activity for blind and visually impaired children.

Involve your child in choosing the plants, bubs or seeds, and deciding the best place to plant them, explaining the options and reasons for each.  Children can participate in every step of the gardening process, including digging, planting, and watering.  Explain each step verbally, and guide your child’s hands as needed to help them understand.

2. Visit a Farm

A super active place to learn about plants and animals.  Many farms have summer open days with family-friendly activities.  Some have year-round farmyard attractions where children can gain hands-on experience of the animals, big tractors, and farm processes.

Pick-your-own farms are a great option for hands-on learning about seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Children with some sight may be able to use visual cues to identify ripe produce.  Other children may need to learn tactile techniques, such as the firmness or scent – ask the farmers or pickers for guidance on multi-sensory cues for the particular produce on offer.

3. Buy of Make a Wind Chime

Differing wind speed and direction can be seen from indoors as the breeze moves through greenery and blows items about.  People with sight loss miss this information.  A wind chime can be a beautifully relaxing and fun way for children to learn about wind, and how it changes throughout a single day and year-round.

There is a wide range of carefully crafted and perfectly tuned options available.  Understanding the structure, and how different materials and sizes produce different sounds will help you find the perfect chime for your child and family.  This is a super chime buying guide with some top suggestions, including audio examples.

Place a wind chime near the door or window you have open most often.  This could be used as an auditory signal to locate the area, but it will go silent if there is no wind.  Explain to your child that the chime may go silent, and ask them to explain the reason why, to demonstrate their understanding of action and reaction.

4. Fly a Kite

How do children learn the scientific concepts of flight when they will never see a bird or plane take off, land, or fly through the air?  The simple joy of flying a kite is one wonderful way to connect with and explore the world, understand some of these processes, and nurture a sense of awe.

Build your own kite as a family, or buy a pre-made one with an easy-to manage reel control.  Making the kite with your child gives them the opportunity to learn about its structure and aerodynamics, but you can also explore and discuss the structure of a purchased kite with your child before flying it.  Look for kites with audible tails , or add your own to help your child keep track of the kite in flight.

Review kite flying safety with your child . Ensure you choose a safe open area, far from electricity and telephone lines and other dangerous obstructions – reinforce to your child why this is so important; children with sight loss who want to fly their kite independently won’t be able to see power lines and judge that an area is safe.

Together with your child, set the kite flying, then guide your child in how to control its flight.  Gradually let go of the control until your child is in confident full control.  Encourage your child to focus on the experience of managing the controls, the sensation of the kite pulling against the reel, and the sound of material buffeting and the tail jingling in the wind overhead.  If your child is confident with the action of flying the kite, or later if they need to focus on the controls, talk together about what your child experienced, and how their concept of flight has evolved.

5. Toast Marshmallows

A classic summer activity that all children can have fun experiencing, regardless of visual disability.  Take special care to orient your child around the area, and specify safety rules to all children present.  Ask the children to explain the rules to you, so you know they have been understood.  Use long-handled toasting forks that enable all children to stay well away from the fire, and assist as needed.

6. Enjoy a Fireworks Display

The bright lights set against a dark sky make fireworks displays particularly visually stimulating and fun when children have some sight.  However, without a commentary, the loud hisses, whizzes, crackles and bangs may be disorienting and distressing for a blind or visually impaired child, or simply boring.

A quality description of fireworks will help bring the spectacle to life for children with sight-loss, and give context to the potentially frightening soundtrack.  Think about the language you can use to describe different fireworks , including their colours, movement and changing shape, and where they are in relation to the familiar environment.

7. Take a Boat Trip

Young children with limited or no sight often have a hard time understanding that water in rivers, lakes and oceans is constantly moving.  Being “on” the water allows them to feel the motion that others can see.  From rowing or paddle boating on a city lake, to sailing on the open ocean, there are so many ways to experience the ebb and flow of water beneath the boat.

Giving several boating opportunities in different environments enables the child to compare and contrast their experience.  For example, punting or riding a gondola on a quiet, shallow river feels very different from canoeing in a sheltered cove, which in turn feels different from taking a fast ferry across open water.

Orientation and safety education is especially important for children with sight-loss – refresh general water safety with each new experience, and teach rules specific to that activity. However, there is no reason why blind and visually impaired children can’t participate in boating activities.  This is a great time of year to take an aquatic adventure.   Look for hands-on opportunities that will maximize their experience.

8. Make a Water Obstacle Course

On hot summer days, an aquatic obstacle course can be a wonderfully fun way to cool down, especially if infection control restrictions mean you can’t visit water parks and pools.  With your child, brainstorm all the materials you can use, such as garden sprinkler, paddling pool or very large bowls, face cloths, plastic cups for pouring, clean squirt bottles or water guns, sponge balls, hula hoops, pool noodles, garden furniture and toys.

Help your child use their imagination to plan, and set up the obstacle course, then orient and support them around the full course if needed.  This video may give you some activity station ideas for the obstacle course.

Several children of different ages and their adult helper are gathered around a big orange bowl filled with water, set on the grass in front of a building. They are having fun playing with various objects in the water.

Children enjoy water play at the Sally Test Paediatric Centre in Eldoret, Kenya.

Stimulate the Senses

9. sensory play.

In our June 2018 article on our blog , child life specialist Jocelyn Leworthy, describes how playfully engaging the senses aids development in babies and young children :

“As children grow, they also acquire more complex skills through sensory experiences.  For example, when playing with sensory materials like water, play dough, blocks; sand etc., they begin to develop fine motor skills – use of the small muscles in the hands. This is achieved through molding, manipulating, stacking, grasping, pouring etc.

“Children learn about concepts like cause and effect when their play involves complete actions like pouring, mixing, stacking and moving. They also learn about physical properties (shape/size/colour/texture), and conservation. Through exploring with the materials, they also develop foundation skills for math and science, including measurement, observing physical changes when materials are mixed or altered, and making comparisons.  Sensory experiences also promote imaginative play and encourage social development like turn taking, sharing, and perspective taking when other children are involved.

“In summary, the senses play a critical role in a child’s holistic development, and their ability to make sense of the world around them. As a parent or caregiver, there are endless opportunities to engage the senses through fun, stimulating interactions and experiences.  Take time to try some new approaches today.”

For a simple sensory play experience, half fill a washing-up bowl with water and provide a selection of silicone or plastic utensils and containers for play. Encourage your child to experiment with the equipment. Make their play even more interesting by adding new items to explore, like ice cubes dyed with food colouring, or natural materials that respond to water in different ways, such as a sea sponge, sand, shells, leaves, twigs, flower petals, pebbles and pine cones.

10. Visit or Make Sensory Garden

Landscaped gardens tend to be very visual, which can be rather dull for a person with limited or no vision.  A sensory garden is designed specifically to stimulate all five senses, using carefully selected flowers, herbs, shrubs, landscaping, and other features.  These environments are very engaging for children and adults with sight-loss, empowering all visitors to connect with nature in multiple ways.

Fabulous creative sensory gardens exist throughout the world, from botanical gardens to small oases within city parks.  Find out what options exist near you.  Your visit may even inspire you to create your own sensory garden at home .

If you don’t have a garden, or don’t want to take on a big sensory gardening project, you can make a super sensory garden box with your child. The creative possibilities are endless, even with a small herb planter.

11. Sensory Treasure Hunt

Take a walk with your child, and encourage them to search for items themed around the five senses.  Keep this very simple with a list of open-ended items, such as looking for something that

Help them to find items by drawing attention to points of interest with description as you walk, and help your child explore with their hands if needed.

If you’re visiting the beach, encourage your child to explore a small area and collect different seashells, pebbles or rocks.  Take some time together to investigate each item in the collection through the sensory range.  What do they look like?  Do they make a sound?  What is the texture?  Do they have a scent?  What do they taste like (or what does the child imagine they might taste like)?  How are they similar and different from other items in the collection?

12. Nature Art

Art and crafts are always a great way to occupy children. Go for a walk with your child in search of natural materials they can use in their next art project.  For example, fallen blossoms, petals, cut grass, leaves, bark, feathers, sticks, berries, and seed pods.  Use them to create a tactile collage picture or card, to decorate a box or photo frame, or any number of imaginative projects.

A shallow round tray is filled with glittering gold sand. The word PEACE is spelled out in many different shells, sea stars and pieces of coral, and the entire piece is finished off with several shells and sea stars decorating the top and bottom.

Simple art Abby created from beach treasures she has gathered over the years.

13. Adapt Active Games

Outdoor games are a core part of childhood summer fun, and they can easily be adapted to include children with sight loss.  Use high contrast for children with some sight, and auditory and tactile cues.  For example, use bright materials, duct tape or sound sources to define the different elements of your game “board” or pitch, and contrasting colours for each participant’s marker.   Glow sticks or brightly coloured mini pool noodles taped together into rings make great highly visible substitutes for ring-toss games.

14. Take a Walk or Hike

Walk around your neighbourhood or visit your community park at different times of day.  Or take some time to explore a nearby country trail. Encourage your child to help you choose the location for your walk, investigating the options together and what they could experience along each route.  Many trails throughout the USA have been made accessible for blind hikers .  Consider your child’s orientation and mobility skills and endurance when looking at the route’s terrain and complexity.  If your child uses a white cane, ensure they use it, and assist with guiding when needed.

As you go along, take regular breaks so your child can safely explore the environment around them with their different senses – this can be hard to do when they are using their senses for orientation.  Blind children miss the visual element of potential destination – the vista up ahead.  So Immediate surroundings, and the sensory experience they generate, become much more important. Describe the delights of nature, and encourage your child to share what they experience.

15. Go Swimming

Serious summer fun for everyone, whether at a pool or in a warm summer sea. Be sure to orient your child around the pool, especially which end is shallow and which is deep, where the step entry points, showers, and changing areas are, and where your group is located.  Define your location with something easily visible like an umbrella, or an audible marker like a wind chime.

Discuss with your child what they should do if they become disoriented in the water, and practice the steps so they feel confident.  Never let children play in the water unobserved or unaccompanied.

Jumping waves at the beach, or splashing about in a paddling pool is also wonderful fun for little kids.  If your child can’t yet swim, consider arranging swimming lessons – learning to swim and stay safe near water can be lifesaving.

16. Discover Accessible Sports

With quality instruction and thoughtful adaptations, a wide range of sports become accessible to blind and visually impaired children.  From horse riding, tandem cycling and sailing to tennis, cricket, football and mountain biking.  If your child expresses interest in a particular sport, research adapted options in your area.  Ask your local and national rehabilitation representatives what accessible sports services are available for blind children, and ask your child if they would like to have a go.

Two children and their camp counsellor are pictured from the front in a kayak. At the back, the counsellor is wearing sunglasses and using a double ended oar, while the smiling boys have smaller, single ended paddles, all with bright yellow blades. All three are wearing orange life jackets, and the camp counsellor and child at the front are also wearing yellow Camp Sunshine t-shirts. The verdant green backdrop is reflected in the water surrounding them.

An afternoon on the water during Retinoblastoma Week at Camp Sunshine .

17. Have a Picnic

A simple pleasure on their own or as part of another activity, picnics offer great opportunity to teach life skills with some fun and excitement.  Involve your child in planning, preparing, and packing the food.  If you are grocery shopping specifically for the picnic, consider paying in cash so your child can practice making purchases. Encourage them to identify the notes and coins needed, and count any change.

With simple demonstration and instruction, children can help with many food and picnic basket preparation tasks, such as:

You don’t have to go far for a fun family picnic. Enjoy al fresco dining in your own garden, or even a carpet picnic in front of the TV.  A vacation from the table can be a great adventure for children.  Breakfast in the garden is especially good as sunlight exposure first thing in the morning boosts the body’s daily biological clock and is the most effective source of natural Vitamin D.

18. Guided Imagery Meditation

If you don’t have a garden and you can’t visit green space near your home, or you just need a little extra oasis of calm, guided imagery meditation can be an excellent way to unwind. Carefully prepared recordings transport the listener to beautiful places and a meditative state with soothing spoken word and creative soundscapes.

The narrator will talk you and your child through the process step by step, with easy to follow instructions for breathing and visualization. You can simply listen, let go of the day and all burdens, and relax.  The soothing effects of guided meditations often result in you falling asleep before the meditation ends, with little or no recollection of the story when you wake up.

Get Sleepy , Sleep Cove , and Guided Sleep Meditations are all podcasts with wonderful natural guided imagery episodes suitable for both children and adults in their extensive backlist repertoire of meditations and sleep stories.

In this episode from Get Sleepy, Thomas Jones narrates a mystical story about a girl named Ella, and a magical lake where beautiful wonders await.

19. Learn to Recognize Birdsong

Birdsong is beautiful, relaxing and uplifting to listen to, and can be especially rewarding when we recognise individual birds in the chorus.  The marvellous range of songs and calls in the avian kingdom offers blind and visually impaired people an alternative route to identifying birds, and the process can be very meditative.

Being aware of the birds in our local environment at different times of year is an important part of learning about life, growth, global environments, migration, and conservation.  Empowering children without sight to recognise individual species, and even differentiate between male and female calls, opens up a realm of connection with the world around and far beyond them.

There are many learning resources and guides online, tailored to the range of birds found in different locations around the world – search for resources covering your region or country.  You can also use birdsong apps to identify birds in the wild, or learn the songs and calls and test your knowledge.  This comprehensive birdsong app guide is particularly useful for North American residents .

20. Write a Nature Inspired Story

Encourage your children’s creative writing or storytelling skills with one of the following challenges (or use your own). If your child is too young to write, encourage them to tell you their story so you can write it down for them.

Share the stories together at a family reading.

A young girl runs along a wide, empty beach towards the sea. Her arms are outstretched and her hair blows in the wind, like the wings of the seabirds that surround her in flight. She is facing away from the camera.

About the Author

Abby’s father was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma in Kenya in 1946. Abby was also born with cancer in both eyes. She has an artificial eye and limited vision in her left eye that is now failing due to late effects of radiotherapy in infancy.

Abby studied geography at university, with emphasis on development in sub-Saharan Africa. She co-founded WE C Hope with Brenda Gallie, responding to the needs of one child and the desire to help many in developing countries.  After receiving many requests for help from American families and adult survivors, she co-founded the US chapter to bring hope and encourage action across the country.

Abby enjoys listening to audio books, creative writing, open water swimming and long country walks.

Abby is wearing a blue and white patterned top, dark pink collared cardigan, and light blue patterned skirt, and a heart necklace. She is pictured with her black german sheperd - golden retriever guide dog, who is wearing a pink collar with guide dor tag showing. Both are smiling broadly at the camera. The background is a bed of bright orange marigolds, a low hedge and tall trees.

Read the story of how WE C Hope began.

Share this entry

hi this inspired me to do a day of baking with my blind child vivian she had cancer and lost her eye sight she loved baking with me and she wants to say “ I got to help out on something it was really fun because I dont get to help out alot”

That’s wonderful to hear! I’m so glad Vivian enjoyed baking with you, and had fun helping out 🙂 Our most recent blog post includes a couple of links to simple baking ideas for inclusive Holiday decoration (scented and braille features) that Vivian might like to try. Happy holidays!

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Bringing Blindness Awareness to the Sighted Classroom

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By Carol Castellano

This article was adapted by the author, Carol Castellano, from her book Making it Work: Educating the Blind/Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School , copyright 2005, Information Age Publishing, Inc. The article first appeard in Future Reflections Winter/Spring 2006 .

A “blindness awareness” presentation is a good way to foster understanding, acceptance, and respect for the blind student in the classroom. A blindness awareness presentation can help sighted students become familiar with the tools and techniques of blindness and learn ways to interact with and include the blind student in activities.

The session can help students realize that their blind classmate is a student just like them who will be learning the same subjects and doing the same assignments but who might be using different tools to get the work done. A blindness awareness presentation can be made by the teacher of the visually impaired, a skilled blind adult, the student himself along with a parent, or a volunteer from an organization such as the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.

Beware of Simulation

Teachers are often tempted to use simulation exercises to raise awareness and “to show students what it is like to be blind.” In these exercises, sighted students don a blindfold and then attempt to perform various tasks or walk around the school building being guided by a classmate to “build trust.”

What are the goals of such exercises? Sighted students will probably have trouble performing tasks under blindfold that they are accustomed to doing with their eyesight. Is the goal to show them how hard it is to be blind? Sighted students will probably be nervous giving over their safety to a guide who is walking them around. Is the goal to show that blind people are helpless and dependent and must put their trust in good-hearted sighted people in order to get anywhere or to keep from falling down a flight of stairs?

Before you embark on such an activity, think about what you want the students to learn. Wearing a blindfold for a little while might show what it would be like to suddenly lose vision, but it certainly does not show what it is like to be blind. Real blind people learn a series of skills that enable them to perform tasks without or with very little eyesight. Likewise, real blind people learn mobility skills so that they can trust themselves and get where they need to go.

If children are blindfolded but are not taught any of the skills that real blind people use, they are likely to emerge from a simulation experience feeling that blindness is scary, sad, and difficult. Is this what you want them to think blindness is like?

Instead of fostering acceptance, understanding, and respect, these exercises engender sadness, fear, and pity. Instead of thinking of their blind classmate as a potential friend, students can end up feeling more distant from their blind classmate and feeling sorry for him or her.

A better way to foster understanding and promote friendships is through a presentation that will promote respect for the blind student and the skills and tools she will be using.

Discussion Topics

Read the stories of Erik Weihenmayer, the blind man who successfully climbed Mt. Everest, Abraham Nemeth, the blind mathematician who created the Braille code for mathematics, and Geerat Vermeij, a blind biologist. Your students might enjoy learning how to read and write a few simple words in Braille. You can purchase the program Braille Is Beautiful for your class or school. This curriculum program provides an educational video, a history of Braille, biographies of famous blind people, Braille games and activities, tools for writing Braille, a Braille service project, and other materials for learning about blindness and Braille. These stories and materials will provide background and factual information for the following possible discussion topics:

Special Items

Ask your presenter to show students items such as print-Braille and large print books, Braille and large print rulers and tape measures, a Braillewriter or slate and stylus, a talking and large print calculator, a talking dictionary, a coloring screen, Braille and large print playing cards, a bell ball, etc.

Cane Travel Discussion and Demonstration

A cane travel discussion and demonstration is effective in helping students understand that their blind classmate will be learning travel techniques that will enable him to move about safely and independently. Discussion topics can include the following:

In addition to demonstrating basic cane use, your presenter can show students how a blind person gets information through the cane, identifies different surfaces, gets around obstacles, and goes up and down stairs.

Trying It Out

Give students some hands-on experiences with the tools and techniques of blindness. Here are some examples:

Activities like these teach skills and broaden awareness. The blind child will probably enjoy the attention given to his methods; the sighted children will enjoy the success they experienced and the understanding they gained and will feel empowered to interact with their blind classmate. These experiences will foster the idea that their blind classmate can be a friend and an equal, and friendship and equality beat charity and pity any day.

Bringing Blindness Awareness to the Sighted Classroom

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