Advice for Parents and Families

of Children with Visual Impairments or Blindness

Learning that a child is blind or visually impaired presents many challenges for families. This section features many sites with suggestions for age-appropriate activities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and encouraging advice for parents who want to get their baby off to a good start!

ABC AND 1, 2, 3
National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
The author describes her passionate advocacy for her daughter and all blind children, particularly for braille literacy.

Adapting Your Home
Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
These suggestions are aimed at families, but are equally valuable to other caregivers and teachers.  Adaptations include strategies to optimize a child's use of vision, using textures and touch to provide clues, enhancing safety, and maximizing organization.

"Baby Proofing" Your Home
Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
The focus here is safety, with specific suggestions for when a child starts to move around independently.

Challenges that Families of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired Face as Parents, Partners and Ambassadors
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
This self-guided tutorial compiles several presentations and addresses by parents of children who are visually impaired, and asks the viewer to consider what it means to families to be placed in this "ambassador" role.

Choosing a Setting for Your Child - Early Years
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
These helpful guidelines include a list of features of quality early childhood settings, as well as a list of what a child may wish to tell the adults and other children in that setting.

Everyday Activities for Blind Children
This article includes a list of simple activities to help children understand the world around them.  It includes activities in the home, in the park or garden, in the kitchen, at the store, and out and about.

Good Sleep Strategies
Perkins eLearning Webcast
People with visual impairment often have significantly more sleep problems when compared to the general population. Dr. Bernstein offers helpful strategies to address the challenges of developing good sleep habits in children with visual impairments.

Helpful Hints for Parents of Blind Infants and Toddlers
Future Reflections(2004), National Foundation of the Blind (NFB)
Christine Faltz, who is herself blind and the mother of two children who are blind, offers numerous specific suggestions to help young children learn about the world.

Helping Your Child Learn about the World
Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
This article provides suggestions for making experiences in the community more meaningful for children with visual impairments.

How Babies Learn
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
This page offers information to help parents understand how their baby experiences the world and includes activities for encouraging exploration.

Just a Little Further Down the Road
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
Leslie Fansler, who is the mother of a deafblind boy, shares her reflections on what she has learned raising her son; available in English and Spanish.

Let Your Child Play With the Pots and Pans!
Future Reflections (2004), National Foundation of the Blind (NFB)
Jacki Harth, mother of a two-year-old boy who is blind, discusses some of the important skills that a child can learn by exploring household objects.

Off to a Good Start
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
Phil Hatlin, Superintendent of TSBVI, offers suggestions to parents of infants and toddlers who are blind; available in English and Spanish.

Parents' Guide to the Development of Preschool Children with Disabilities: Resources and Services
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Parents of preschool children with visual or physical disabilities will find a wide range of information in this reference circular to assist them in promoting their children's development. The listing includes organizations, producers, and distributors who offer materials and services at the national level.

Reflections on the First Three Years of Having a Child with a Disability
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
Alison Rickerl describes some of the challenges of being a parent of a young girl who has a visual impairment; available in English and Spanish.

Future Reflections (2004), National Foundation of the Blind (NFB)
Carol J. Castellano describes some of the things her daughter learns during their trips to the grocery store.


Organizations and Resources to Explore: Parents and Families

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
We spotlight two areas of the AFB site which are of particular value to caregivers of children who are blind or visually impaired

Early Education
This section includes articles on the importance of preschool education, language development, motor skills, the role of parents as teachers, and more.
For Parents
AFB offers advice and resources to parents who have just learned that their infant is blind or visually impaired. Topics include: Finding Help, Questions to Ask Your Child's Eye Specialist, Your Rights as Parents, as well as tips for parenting children of different ages.

Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
Family Connect has a wealth of information and practical tips for parents of children of all ages, including infancy through preschool.  Topics include: Family Life, Growth and Development, Education, Social Life and Recreation, and Transition to Independence. 

Hadley School for the Blind Family Education Program
These free correspondence courses for parents of blind children address a range of topics, including child development, the importance of play, mobility, parenting children with multiple disabilities, and fostering social skills.

Education and Learning, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
This section of the RNIB site offers extensive advice and resources to parents.  Topics include personal, social and emotional development , communication, language, literacy, numeracy, problem solving, and much more.
This comprehensive site is maintained by a parent whose child has a visual impairment. It includes many full-text articles and downloads on a wide range of topics, including play, sleep, and language development.

See also Family