For a child that is blind or sighted, an animal can make life more bearable. When depression hits, the unconditional love of an animal can make it all better. When that child just can't explain what is wrong, crying into the soft fur of their beloved pet, can change a frown to a smile.

I do not suggest getting a puppy or kitty unless you are ready to raise another very needy person around your house…..and YES, they become another of the family membership.

There are so many wonderful adult animals at shelters that are ready to love someone, who are obedient and all they want is the chance to give out that unconditional love to a child who so desperately needs what they have to give. An animal helps the child become more responsible without the issues of trying to train a puppy or kitty. Put in a cat window and the litter box issue is immediately resolved and a dog can go 10 hours without a potty break.

Make the difference for a child by getting them a pet and watch the changes that will occur for incredible GOOD.

In general, when a child is born blind, parents have a sense of overwhelming grief, fear and a lack of understanding of what to do. This birth is "different" and they are very unsure. One tendency is to do everything for the child. When this occurs, children do not learn the basic skills to move around and do for themselves. If children are sighted and everything is done for them, they can "watch" to see how to do something, if they ever so desire. However, blind children MUST touch the environment and interact with it in order to understand it and learn how to "DO" life.

Many parents may do too much because it is faster for them to do it. But children are slow "at first" and as they do skills, they become faster. That is true for all of us.

Many parents have such guilt of their child being blind that they over compensate by doing "EVERYTHING" for the child, not realizing that they are hurting the child's chances of being "normal" having friends and being able to do for themselves, becoming independent later on.

The last scenario is the one I deal with often. High School students come to me, who have never made a meal, cannot cut their own food, can never be left alone because they would not even know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They do not even know how to carry their books, hang up their coat and get ready for class because their parents have insisted that a para educator be next to them all day long. The student cannot even go to the bathroom by himself or herself. But on a cognitive scale, this child is of average intelligence and has every capability of being independent. Many times this situation will be made worse because the para that was hired for the child WANTS to do everything for the child also because they feel sorry for him/her. Pity kills—kills the spirit and soul….be there no doubt.

Some children completely give into this and just become dependent all their lives. Never going on to college, or a job or living out any potential dream deeply buried within them.

Others and this is most, in High School start to really resent their parents and those around them who refuse to let them do anything. What they did not realize was that all those years they let someone else "do" for them –but then they NEVER wanted to clean a toilet or sweep the floor, so gave in to their parents doing everything for them; they never gained the skills to do what they wanted when the time came. Parents must make this decision as children are in general too fearful or lack desire to confront them on their lack of participation in daily life activities.

When children asks to go on a major High School field trip over days of time, the answer has to be "no" because they have no ability to get around by themselves, or even organize themselves enough to know how to pack, unpack or get ready for bed and wake up and get dressed without constant attention.

Some will go onto training centers for the blind if they get angry enough about their lack of abilities and these people go on to accomplish their dreams. But those who just stay angry or resigned go on to do very little.

A highly skilled teacher of the blind can get this situation turned around. The introduction of technology is usually the first step, as students have great success fast in learning how to accomplish and do their own work. They start to gain the confidence in doing more and slowly but surely start to learn those independent skills. Once the parents start to see the success, they now understand their child can do anything they desire. Hope grows, vision changes and they start to see a new picture of possibility.

We can either make a society of independent people or not. Be careful how much you "do" for anyone. Are you really helping or hurting. If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime!!!!

Mac with Lion OS system and Voice Over are truly giving the PC with talking software a run for its money. Mac has truly become accessible right out of the box. Voice Over is able to access information with a flick of a finger or a key command.
If you are a PC user and want to make a switch, you must be ready for a learning curve as everything you learned on the PC will not transfer over to the Mac, other than you will be using the keyboard. You will also be using the Track Pad. There are great features worked into the Mac that with a simple finger gesture you can sail across a page

To get you going and moving on the Mac with Voice Over, download lessons at iTools

 

Tap to Talk is a simple communication device that helps children "talk" to the people around them. You cannot use Voice Over with it, but it has its own talking ability within the program. It works great for Low Vision children and you could use a braille overlay to help a blind child learn where each item is going to be so they could use it too.

Watch a video on this device at: iPad app-Communication Device that speaks

Download lessons at: iTools

Mac with Lion OS system and Voice Over are truly giving the PC with talking software a run for its money. Mac has truly become accessible right out of the box. Voice Over is able to access information with a flick of a finger or a key command.

If you are a PC user and want to make a switch, you must be ready for a learning curve as everything you learned on the PC will not transfer over to the Mac, other than you will be using the keyboard. You will also be using the Track Pad. There are great features worked into the Mac that with a simple finger gesture you can sail across a page

To get you going and moving on the Mac with Voice Over, download lessons at iTools

One of the most exciting things to happen in instruction is pairing the Iphone with a braille display. This is not just for the blind, but more importantly the deaf/blind. Over a year ago, one of my students asked about the correct phone he should buy–voice was not enough–he could not hear it. We had gone to the phone store with his mom, showed him the iphone and went over the cost of it. Mom saved his money from his SSI and around March he came in with an iphone that could pair with a tiny braille display. He can easily carry around both. For the first time, he could text his friends and they could text back. He could and can now communicate with the world. The elation I still feel over this and watching him get so excited about what this means for his life and socialization skills overwhelms me. This is why I teach. Someone comes to me with a problem and I need to figure out the best solution, then see the joy on the student's face when they realize what power there is in this tool keeps me going and searching even further and wider for all things possible. What a truly exciting time we live in!!
Lessons to help you learn
 at iTools

Learn how to insert comments into documents and edit work, making tracks through work on a PC with talking software. The teacher grades the students' work, emails it to them and their talking software goes through every comment and correction. Students edit work as needed, hear their grade and if needed email work back to teacher for further corrections or higher grade. Blind students can now do work from start to finish, creating a document, email it, teacher grades it and emails back, student hearing their own grade and making changes as requested by teachers. Blind students can easily make tracks in peers papers also, for peer review.

Send the teacher their version of track changes at the start of the year, so they know how to do this for the blind students in their classes. Watch video: Dr. Robinson teaches-Track Changes-inserting comments and editing work

Lessons to help the student and teacher

Seven Lessons on TRACK CHANGES for students and teachers-everything you need

Learning how to print will enable blind children to understand the world more completely. Whether it is understanding basic concepts, such as a U-Turn, a C-clamp, V-angel, T-intersection and so much more, to advanced math concepts, print will help blind children relate to their sighted peers and understand life's' concepts with more ease. Understanding a T, H and U will really help them travel and navigate the world. If they can comprehend the layout of a building or street, nothing can stop them.

When I was interning decades ago with the most incredible blind teacher I had ever met, he taught me these valuable skills. The teacher or sighted students could easily draw figures on the blind students' hands to describe what was seen. This was especially helpful in math class. Blind children also found it easier to interpret those line design drawings in their braille books if they understood letters, pictures, shapes and designs.

Get a bag a magnetic letters that can go on the fridge, so while you are cooking, your child can be rearranging the letters and making words. Get the letters that have braille on them, so they can learn the braille and the print at the same time. Flash cards with braille and print shapes make it easy to take learning in the car or working in a room. Creative Adaptations for Learning has many types of options

You can pair up students and each will spell a word then hand the word to the other person and they have to figure out the word. Then they can take a tactile board, such as a Draftsman toolkit and practice writing it out. There are many ways to do this to make learning fun. Some of the easiest is just have them write in the sand, use sandpaper letters, write in pudding-especially great for young children so they can taste their results–make sure they help you make the pudding.

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