My top five suggested school supplies for Visually Impaired Students

Across the world many students are returning to the classroom. For some parents this may be the first time their child who has a visual impairment may be getting a formal education. I have seen on many support groups that you want to help your child be as successful as possible.

To help with this here are my top five suggested school supplies to help your child achieve success.

  1. Bold lined paper. I know that paper in general is a required supply, however I found that growing up the regular notebook paper had lines that looked faded and it was hard for me to keep track of where I was writing. When I was little my teacher of the visually impaired introduced me to wide lined bold lined paper. They come in notebooks and college ruled length too!

This helped me a lot as I did not lose my place as I wrote. The only draw back that I found was that bold lined paper is meant to be used with a 20/20 pen, and it easily got onto my hands as I wrote. As I entered middle and high school, I found that using this paper did cause some bullying. That year I was lucky to find the five-star dark blue paper. I love this paper. The lines are dark enough to be seen, and you can use a regular pen or pencil.

  1. Erasable Pens. To help me see my work better I found that using erasable pens were very helpful. They come in either black or blue. When I was in high school, I found that I preferred the blue pens. The only complaint that I had with this tool is how the ink got all over my hands. This happened because of the way I held my pen. Remember guys, I have mild cerebral palsy. Just because this happened to me doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone.
  2. A mesh multi pocket pencil pouch. I am not talking about the clear plastic ones. I found that those made finding items hard to find. I am talking about a mesh multi pocket pencil pouch. These pencil pouches made it where I could separate all my pens, and made it where they were easy to find. Some pouches even come with holders at the top. I used to put my pens in there for a quick grab.
  3. A non-electric low vision device. In this day many students have Iphones, and Ipads to see their work, but what is a student to do if they fail? Use their non electric low vision device. When I was growing up, I used my dome magnifier quite often. I suggest that a student keep a device such as a dome magnifier handy just in case.
  4. Finally, eye glass wipes. Growing up I found that my glasses used to get dirty quite often, so I would have to ask for a pass to go to the bathroom just so I could clean my glasses. Some teachers may only offer a number of bathroom passes during the term, and a smart student would want to use them for what they are used for. (Kids, don’t use this excuse to get out of class, stay in there and learn. 😊 ) So, to help with this problem I suggest that you buy a package of pre moistened wipes that students can keep in their pencil pouches. That way a student can clean their glasses when needed.

 

I hope that you find these suggestions useful. I know that this is a short list. Is there something I missed? What would you add to this list? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Remember parents try not to worry. Your kids are going to be superstars! Happy School year everyone!

 

Disclaimer: Please note, these suggestions are based on my own personal experiences and will only help students who have some vision. These tips will not work for blind students.

 

Section four: Public Transit and Paratransit-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This lesson was on public transit and paratransit and it gave me feelings of anger. That is because I know how limited paratransit can be in my local area. Using my local paratransit makes me feel trapped.

There were four sections in this lesson. The first one was about the advantages and disadvantages of both public transit, which can include buses, subways, trains, etc. and Paratransit. When it comes to public transit, I have only taken the bus twice.  The first time was for Orientation and Mobility training. I was really nervous when I took the bus that day. It was nice to have a lesson on it though. The second time I took it was when I took it with my best friend to get back to her dorm when we had a sleep over. I felt that the second time was much better because my friend knew the bus route very well. I felt confident in her travel skills. Because the nearest bus stop is too far away from my home, I have to use paratransit. I really wish our public bus system was closer. I would travel more and I think I would feel more confident with my travel skills.

For most of my travel I use paratransit or I get rides from family and friends. When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages the disadvantages of using my local paratransit outweigh the advantages. One of the main disadvantages is the paratransit is either very late, up to 30 minutes to an hour or more or sometimes they forget you all together. I have lost count of how many times I have missed events or appointments due to the lack of quality of service in my area.  I agree with the course that sometimes you can get bad feedback because you use a service that is for those who have disabilities. I personally have had feedback both positive and negative from people in our community.

Even though this is a problem there are some advantages of paratransit I like. For example, I only have to pay $7.00 for a trip. I like the fact that they come right to your door and drop you off at your location. I agree with the course when it says that some of the paratransit companies have trained their drivers to help people who have disabilities. I have had some very helpful drivers.

The second section was on finding sources of information. I felt that this section was more like a review for me. I found out more information about the bus and paratransit system when my family and I attended a local community fair. I also heard about the bus and paratransit from my Division of Blind Services Caseworker. There are many resources such as websites, and community organizations that can possibly help you with information when it comes to learning about your local public transit or paratransit in your area.  Be sure to check it out.

The third section also felt like a review. It covered a basic knowledge of how to plan your trip. One thing that I did not know before this lesson was when taking the bus, plan your route backwards to achieve being at your destination on time.

The last section was on travel tips and this section helped me immensely. I learned there are a variety of ways that you can file a complaint. I personally would like to start using these tips and I want our paratransit system to improve it’s service.

Section three: Walking and Biking-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

In this section of “Going Places” from my Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Review I want to talk about what I learned about walking and biking.

This lesson brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to ride my bike. I found that riding my bike was fast and fun! I did some walking to and from school when I was in middle school; however, my mother was always worried about my safety. She was so worried about my safety because one day I did not return home on time. I walked home with a friend a different way and it took us longer to get home. After that, my mother had me tested for Orientation and Mobility. In the report, it basically said that my mother needed to let me be more independent. She hardly let me walk home on my own and as a result I felt less independent than my peers. This leads me to the first section of the lesson: Advantages and disadvantages of walking and biking. I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Both walking and biking can be low cost and good for someone’s health. I learned that with correct planning both of these can be enjoyed.

During sixth grade my mom and other adults started talking to me about safety issues, such as coming home from school on time, having phone numbers to call in case I were to get lost, etc. Reflecting back on this, as an adult, these are basic common-sense issues that should be taught to any child early. I feel that if a child wishes to walk or bike somewhere, as long as it’s safe, let the child do it. I feel that If I was exposed to walking and biking earlier, I would have been more confident with my travel skills.

When it comes to trip planning the more you do it the easier it becomes. Start teaching these travel skills early! For example, you can teach landmarks. My mother started teaching me this from a young age. She also taught me compass directions and map reading. Remember you are your child’s best advocate! You may want to request support from an Orientation and Mobility specialist to get help in white cane training and with the examples I mentioned.

 

Going places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually impaired Review

Introduction: I decided to take this course because not being able to drive has a big impact on my life. Even though I can not give out course information I am going to give you some inside as to how I feel about each topic that was covered in this course, and how I feel you may be able to benefit from either taking the course yourself, it is free to parents, and students who are sixteen or older, or how you can use my topics to help start talking about being a successful non driver with your child, teen or young adult.

I highly recommend taking the course online or with your child if your child is old enough to enroll in the course. To sign up for the course you can either enroll online at: https://www.hadley.edu/EnrollNow.asp or mail in an application.

I mailed in my paper application. The application was simple and easy to fill out. I needed a letter from my caseworker to verify my status as a visually impaired person. I believe that your child’s eye doctor can also fill out the forms.

After about a week I called to check the status of my application and I found out that I could start my class right away. The student services office was very helpful.

As I examined each of the five sections I thought about how I felt about the different situations I could face and the modes of transportation I could use. .

Some modes of transportation I have taken myself and I know first hand what it feels like to use them. However, some of the modes of transportation, which I will talk about further in my blog posts, I have not thought about as an option for myself.

I hope that you find these next few weeks of this series to be helpful for learning that you can be successful as a non-driver and that, if you are a parent, that this will open some doors of ways to communicate with your child, teen or young adult. I hope my insights will help you deal with some of the emotions that you may feel as you think about and process your child’s future.

I want to open up a way to communicate with my audience. Feel free to chime in down in the comments below on how you are feeling as I post each section review and always feel free to ask questions! I will try my best to answer your questions as honestly as I possibly can.

 

Five things you can do with your visually impaired child this spring

It is now spring, and with that means warmer weather. If you have a visually impaired child you may want to take this opportunity to work on some “blindness” skills. Here are five ideas to help you get started.

  1. If your child likes to fly a kite, have them use their magnifier, and have them use it to read the instructions and put the kite together themselves. (with you supervising this). This will teach them to use their magnifier, how to follow directions, and how to feel good about themselves when it comes to completing something.
  2. This next activity is for children who have a telescope or is in pre-telescope training. This is a fun way to practice using proper prompting technique (which can also be called a holding technique). Which can be used when getting ready to track the kite, or to help stabilize their arm while they are tracking the kite. You can move the kite in different directions and have them follow it with their telescope. (which can help build tracking technique). These two skills are needed in the classroom when children are taking their own notes from the board.
  3. This next activity can be for a younger child who may be working on Orientation and Mobility skills. Have them follow bubbles. For some of these activities you may want to use a larger wand to make bigger bubbles. 😊 If your child can see them well enough. You can blow the bubbles, and while the bubbles are floating have your child follow them. While they are following them, you can work on directions such as up, down, left, right, behind, under, over. If your child is working on compass directions you can blow them, and ask, “If I blow them in this direction, what direction is this?” or “What direction is behind you from where the bubbles are going?” If your child likes to run remember that this can be another good way for them to get some exercise too.
  4. Go for a walk or a bike ride. For biking every child is different. Please do not pick this activity if you do not feel like your child can handle riding a bike. Walking may be a better option. This can help your child get exercise. It can also open up a dialog. You can start talking about options  that they can do if they can’t drive to help them still be mobile and still be independent. This can be a fun activity that the whole family can do.

5.       Finally, you can take some or maybe all of these activities and combine them into a day. Maybe you can even do a scavenger hunt for the supplies for the kite. Have fun!

Making Pimento Cheese (independent living skills series 25)

I was excited to get back into the kitchen at school. My teacher, classmate and I went into the kitchen and she told me all about the Pimento Cheese ingredients and where to find them when you are at the grocery store. After this, my teacher helped my classmate open a package of cream cheese. We left it on the counter. We got out our cutting boards and cheese graters. I chose the black cutting board and silver grater because the contrast of these two items are easier for me to see better. My teacher went over the different sizes of panels; we used the largest and medium-sized ones.  She showed us how to grate the cheese. I found that grating is simple.

Once half of our block of cheese was grated, we went to the medium-sized panel. I had problems with my panel because of the way my cheese was ending up. Instead of getting grated my cheese was getting smashed into the holes and getting stuck. I had to switch to a handheld grater. Once all of our cheese was grated, we put in all it one giant bowl.  The next step in our lesson was to practice using a measuring spoon to measure our miracle whip and softened cream cheese. Once it was all measured out, we added these ingredients to the bowl. We mixed all three of the ingredients together.

In the morning, our principle ordered pizza for lunch  for all the students and staff. Our pizza was delivered right on time.  The pizza was delicious and all the students and staff enjoyed this treat. Once we cleaned up from lunch, including some of our dishes from our lesson, we got back to it.

We added the Pimentos to the bowl. Then we stirred the cheese. It was time to clean the carrots that we were going to use to dip our cheese with. Cleaning the carrots was easier. My classmate peeled and cut half of the carrots. Then it was my turn. I had never cut carrots into slices before so my teacher had to teach me how to do it. What made this easier to remember was how I rocked my knife back and forth to cut our homemade pizzas. This was the same kind of process.

Lastly, my teacher placed the cheese on a plate and added some of the carrots. We then had a small discussion on how to plate cheese, vegetables, and crackers for a party.

My classmates, teachers and I all enjoyed our snack. It was a lot of fun making this simple snack.

Next week I will be learning how to make chicken salad and chocolate dump cake.

Mid-term reflection: pondering thoughts (independent living skills series 21)

Since it is October and I only have four more months until my scheduled graduation I decided to write a mid-term reflection.

I like my classmates and staff at school. I feel like the school lacks organization when it comes to getting students organized for their assigned lessons.  I wish the teachers would provide class syllabuses to help students keep track on what they are learning.

When I first started school, back in May, I was hesitant to cook and to travel on my own. I had limited knowledge about the Alexa Echo.

I now have a new sense of freedom. I now know how to look up recipes, check spelling of words, do math, get times and keep my shopping and To-Do lists up to date. I use my Alexa daily.

In the kitchen, I am able to cook simple meals and desserts. As well as, use my adaptive equipment to chop fruits and vegetables, check temperatures on a wide variety of meats, and how to confidently place and remove pans from a hot oven. I cook for myself more often, and enjoy new dishes. (Yum, baked eggplant 😊)

When it comes to my travel skills I am no longer afraid to cross streets with heavy traffic, use escalators and elevators and use alternative transportation. I feel like I can travel anywhere I want including traveling abroad. Over these past few months I have learned to have high expectations for myself; all this despite having Nystagmus.  I have positive friends who believe I can achieve my goals and dreams rather than to say I cannot achieve.  On top of all this, I have decided not to listen to the people who say, “No, you cannot you have a cane; or you are visually impaired,” I say to those people, I have confidence and independence now that I have all this training. Getting this confidence and independence did not just happen over night and it came with a lot of work on my part, however I am happy with who I am today.  I know what goals I want to achieve in the future.

Thank you everyone for your support; without you I would have never made it this far. I am looking forward to my graduation.