About This Site
Eye and Visual Impairment
609,000 children in the United States live with some degree of visual impairment. Of these, over 95,000 are unable to read newspaper print, and over 50,000 are legally blind, meaning that their visual acuity with corrective lenses is less than 20/200 in their better eye or that their visual field spans less than 20 degrees. 1.5 million children in the world are legally blind.
Parents of many of these children are finding the support and resources they need using the Internet. A number of email groups provide opportunities to interact with other parents and blind adults. Web sites provide free information and links to books that can be purchased online.
If you are just beginning your search for information in response to a recent diagnosis, the first thing you should know is that your child can lead a very fulfilling life with or without eyesight. Your support will provide all the encouragement your child needs; and when you understand blindness and how people do things without eyesight, you can pass this knowledge on and help make that fulfilling life a reality. This site will help your child overcome some of the anxiety associated with the early stages of visual impairment.
Understanding the Eye and Visual Impairment
If your child has recently been diagnosed with a visual impairment, you may have many questions about whether treatment can help, how to help your child use his remaining vision, and what to do next. The Eye Care Page provides basic information about the eye, eye conditions, treatments, and low vision aids that can help your child use his vision most effectively.
Blindness and Early Childhood
Blindness can affect child development in a number of ways. The most important thing to remember is to get your baby interacting with the environment! Sighted babies move around because they become curious about what they see. Blind children may need a bit of help getting their curiosity piqued. Talk to your baby using normal language. Play with toys that feature different textures, sounds, and smells.
Getting your baby to move around in the environment helps him develop an accurate understanding of spatial concepts and learn to move around safely. In the article, Orientation and Mobility: What does it mean for my baby?, Andrea Story introduces parents to the field of orientation and mobility, its history, and what O&M instructors do with babies and toddlers.
Several books also provide valuable information for parents of blind children. In Children with Visual Impairments: A Parents' Guide, Cay Holbrook and other parents and professionals discuss issues of concern to parents of children of all ages. Patricia Maloney, who is the mother of a blind child, shares her experiences in her book, Practical guidance for parents of the visually handicapped.
Meeting Your Child's Educational Needs
Educational services are available for children with visual impairments from infancy through age 22. For an overview of services available, read the article, Who's Who in the Education of Blind Children If you are a homeschooler or want to supplement your child's formal education at home, the electronic resource book, Nothing But the Best, provides information about teaching blindness-related skills and academic subjects as well as links to sources for medication to assist with learning.
Email Discussion Groups
A number of email discussion groups are available for parents of children with visual impairments.
BVI-Parents is a place where parents, professionals and others can discuss issues relating to raising and educating children who are blind or visually impaired. Recent topics have included canes for children with low vision, feeding skills, teaching Braille to children with low vision, and suggestions for fun play activities. To subscribe to the list, send any message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blindhomeschooler is an email-based forum for discussion of issues related to homeschooling children who are blind. Topics of discussion have included teaching Braille, special education services for homeschoolers, curricula in accessible format, suggestions for activities, and socialization. Blindhomeschooler is a low volume list, generating less than 10 messages a day. Mail can be read individually, as a digest, or via the Web only. To subscribe, send any mail to email@example.com. To access the list archives, you will need a Yahoo! ID and password linked to your email address. If you already have one, visit the Blindhomeschooler web page>. If you do not have an ID and password, follow the sign up link for more information.