a row of different colored washing machines with a wire laundry cart in front of them
Activity

Learning about Laundry

Tips to teach individuals with visual impairments, including those with deafblindness or multiple disabilities, to do laundry and to develop concepts to promote independent living skills

Doing laundry is an important component of independent living skills for individuals transitioning from school to adult life. However, laundry can be a challenging experience for individuals who are blind or low vision. Labeling laundry appliances for accessibility and finding a strategy to use detergent safely are some ways of navigating these challenges, but oftentimes students have challenges around concept development.

In order for students with vision impairments to do laundry independently, it can be helpful for them to first have a concept of what laundry appliances look like, how they work, what features all washers and dryers have in common, and how they may differ from one appliance to the next. Many transition-aged students with vision impairments have little to no laundry experience, even in their own homes. Furthermore, familiarity with a home washer and dryer does not necessarily mean that it will be easy for a student to use laundry machines in other places. This activity aims to address concept development in order to promote independent living skills.

 

Part I:  Laundry in the Home Environment

Starting with the laundry machines in the student’s home, or the machines that the student’s family uses most frequently, practice doing a load of laundry with the student. Put labels on the washer and dryer for accessibility.  If this is the student’s first time doing laundry, don’t worry about her level of independence with the activity at this point. This is just to get a feel for what the process is like. A student can easily complete this step by becoming involved in her family’s typical laundry routine. During this process, orient the student to the machines and how they work.  Show where the clothes are put in, where to put soap, where the lint screen is and how to clean it.  Allow the student to explore the dials or buttons on the machine and discuss the options available.

Part II:  Laundry in the Community

The second part of this activity is community-based. The student and instructor or family member should go to a laundromat and/or a home supply store that sells large appliances (e.g. Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.). In either or both of these settings, the student can explore the types of washing machines and dryers available. How does a coin-operated machine work? How do the dials and buttons differ from one machine to another? Where are lint screens located on different dryers? What is the difference between front and top loading machines? Focus not only on the differences between the appliances, but also on what all appliances have in common (i.e. all dryers have a lint screen). This will help the student to begin conceptualizing how the process works and how to transfer this skill from one place to another.

 
Collage of learning to do laundry

By Courtney Tabor-Abbott

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