March 23, 2020

Resources for Students with Visual Impairments & Their Families during the Covid-19 School Closure

- Becky Berk

young visual impaired girl using assistive technology to use a tablet

As most New Hampshire districts enter their first or second week of remote instruction for students, schools have worked fast and furiously on ways to present curriculum to students at home, and parents have been thrust into an unfamiliar – and sometimes overwhelming – role.  For parents whose child has a visual impairment, the challenge can be even greater.

Future In Sight offers three ways to support parents in this challenging time, whether they work with staff from our agency or not. 

  1. Support from Vision Specialists – We encourage parents to connect with your child’s Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment (TVI) and/ or Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist to see how instructional materials can be made accessible and/or how your child can continue working toward safe independent travel.  Federal law says that any time instruction is offered to general education students, a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is also required for students requiring accommodations or special education.  The goals, objectives and services outlined in your child’s IEP do not simply stop, even during times of national emergency. 
  2. Launch of NH Parent Connect: Virtual Parent Workshop – We invite all parents of children with visual impairment to join an online workshop and to connect with other parents on Saturday, March 28 from 10:00 am – 11 a.m..  The focus will be on resources to support you and your child during this period of remote instruction and to strengthen the parent network within NH.  Register here:
  3. NH guidelines on the education of students with visual impairment are now posted in an easy format for parents, teachers and community members.   

Some resources that you may find helpful, specific to supporting a child with visual impairment, during this period of remote instruction include the following.  Many more resources will be shared in our March 28 workshop.

  • Beginning on March 23, Paths to Literacy is hosting free virtual web classes for students and families on areas of the expanded core curriculum.  Each weekday at 2:00 pm, a different topic will be presented through the Virtual Expanded Core Education Learning (ExCEL) Academy for Students with Visual Impairments.   
  • Tips and Tools for Teaching Beginning Braille Skills  provides families and teachers with ideas and activities for emergent braille readers including tactile discrimination, letter identification, book making and games.  
  • Paths to Literacy created a list of 56 Tactile Math Ideas.  These ideas and suggestions for young students with visual impairments address early math skills and concepts by using hands-on exploration of real objects.  Skills and concepts include counting, matching, sorting, categorizing, attributes, ordering, patterns and number lines.
  • For young children with visual impairments, playing outside is a great opportunity to practice and explore orientation and mobility skills and concepts.  The Royal National Institute for Blind People (UK) created a fun resource for families called Messy and Muddy: A Guide to Outdoor Play for Children with Visual Impairments.

As always, please let us know if we can be helpful in other ways.  Contact Becky Berk, Director of Education Services [email protected]