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Community mapping and making connections

Community mapping helps children and young adults with visual impairment and other disabilities make meaningful connections in the world around them

Community mapping is about establishing meaningful connections in your community. It happens at every age and stage of life.

A visually impaired female with a smile on her face as she is walking hand in hand with her teacher outside.

It starts with knowing what is available in your community, and supporting your student’s access and exposure so they can begin to understand all the ways in which they support and are supported by the community. To get started, consider where you live and the places you visit which sustain your family. Explore new places together to encourage self-discovery and return to familiar places to acknowledge and build on your student’s expressed interests.

Building community and establishing meaningful connections positively affects outcomes. It opens doors, creates opportunities, and lays the foundation for interdependence.

None of us is an island. Helping your student learn the importance of building and sustaining meaningful connections is the cornerstone for a fulfilling life. 

When collectively pooled, resources for students and youth with complex needs can create a synergy that produces services well beyond the scope of what any single system can hope to mobilize.”

Crane and Mooney, 2005

How community mapping happens – and why it’s so important

Community mapping helps to:

Building and expanding circles of support

We live interdependently, in community with one another.  

Interdependence is “defined as mutual dependence between people or entities. By nature, it involves collaboration, reciprocity and mutual benefit…We are all connected to each other and we need each other to reach our goals in life. We are undeniably linked to our families, communities, and the world at large…We really do need each other and once we learn this, life can be richer and fuller.”  (VisionAware)

Participating in an exercise to identify your student’s circles of support is a reflective way to think about how we fit into our world and into our community. The people who you include can be anyone your student connects with from family members, school personnel, and peers, to neighbors, shopkeepers and beyond, including:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Caretakers
  • Neighbors and close community contacts
  • Professional support
Concentric circles with student at the center, and family, neighbors & community contacts, and professional supports surrounding the student

Take a moment to complete the circles of support with your student. In addition to recognizing those meaningful connections, it’s also a way to identify gaps, as well as set a direction for filling those gaps, if appropriate. 

When does community mapping happen? 

Who does community mapping? 

Where does community mapping happen? 

Community mapping happens in the home, school and work communities. Here are just some examples of places to establish community connections:

Community mapping can also happen virtually! Virtual opportunities are available for peer networking, job exploration, college campus tours, among others 

My daughter loves attending appointments with healthcare professionals. She introduces herself, provides her phone number and tells people that ‘No, my insurance hasn’t changed’ and says ‘And this is my mother, she can tell you everything else!’ 

Mother of a Perkins’ student, speaking during person-centered planning on the value of making connections 

Where do I start?

The opportunities are out there – and to find them, you just have to start with a plan.

Identify and organize

Think creatively

Young man pets a baby goat.

Build a foundation of skills

Stay in the conversation about post-secondary transition.

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