I try to teach my children about disabilities at a young age. It’s important that they have at least a basic understanding of disabilities and realize that although some people have more challenges in life, may look different or act different than us, that they are still just as wonderful as anyone else. I also want them to appreciate with amazement how people with disabilities can overcome great obstacles and lead full normal lives.
I created a hands-on activity to try to help my son grasp how hard it would be for him if he were blind or vision-impaired and couldn’t see the things around them. I filled a bag with little items from around the house and without looking he had to feel around in the bag and guess what the objects were. He absolutely loved this activity but it was certainly challenging for him at times.
We went to the library and checked out a few books on blindness. These were good because they gave examples of challenges that a blind person might face in basic daily situations that we take for granted because we can see. It was really good for my son to think about how hard these things would be to do if he couldn’t see.
I was really excited that we stumbled upon a particular book called, The Black Book of Colors by Cottin and Faria. It did the perfect job of really hitting it home with my son about how different his world would be if he couldn’t see for it highlights the difficulties in understanding the concept of color when you can’t see.
The pages are all in black. There are typed words and also braille words. And the book is all about color.
This page reads, “Thomas says yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers.”
There are raised pictures that go along with each page of text. What an amazing book!
Of course, there is a braille alphabet in the book as well. Nicholas tried to use it but realized just how difficult it can be to read braille. As with most things, it takes a lot of practice to get good at it.
You can get a free embossed braille alphabet card at the National Braille Press website. Here’s what it will look like except that you can actually feel the raised dot letters:
It is important for children to understand what disabilities are and how people affected by them are still people just like you and me. I hope that as he gets older and meets more people with disabilities, that he will embrace their differences and see them with all the beauty that they have as individuals.
Here is another great post about teaching kids about sight.