[blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

hpscheffer at aol.com hpscheffer at aol.com
Fri Sep 30 16:18:41 UTC 2011

Heather, it was so great to read your post! I'm glad there are blind TVI's like yourself that can educate others. I hope your message gets across. My daughter loved painting in preschool, we didn't stop her from doing it since for whatever reason she did enjoy it, and it certainly was not to develop a skill, but just for her own pleasure. We did a lot of modeling clay and she loved that as well, she has a great collection of her interpretation of flowers, birds, hearts that are beautiful and spot on. Her finger strength came with practice on the perkins.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge, it was a pleasure to read.


-----Original Message-----
From: Heather Field <missheather at comcast.net>
To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind children) <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Fri, Sep 30, 2011 7:28 am
Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

I am a TVI and blind myself. It is my experience that most TVI's aren't 
really very well trained in the area of early childhood. Thus, they find it 
difficult to come up with activities that really do develop fine motor 
skills for blind children. Further, many of them don't actually know the 
alternative, nonvisual methods that blind children will actually use to 
perform fine motor tasks, such as buttoning, snapping, zipping, tying, 
identifying coins, pouring, measuring etc. so they don't know the precursors 
to those skills. Also, as many of them are itinerant and must travel between 
schools, it is quite a challenge to organise and carry all kinds of hands-on 
activities/equipment for young blind children, replacing it often. So, it's 
not easy to do it well under the usual circumstances of the 
included/mainstreamed, young blind child needing fine motor skill 
development. It is much easier at the end of a tiring day when the children 
are doing art to simply justify the blind child's coloring with nonsense 
about fine motor skills and inclusion.

In my opinion, this nonsense about coloring is simply a result of teachers 
not knowing appropriate alternative activities. Holding a pencil is a very 
specific fine motor skill that benefits writing for sighted writers. I have 
seen no evidence that it develops the kind of finger eexterity and 
sensitivity, or strength for that matter, that TVIs claim it does for blind 
children. It makes my blood absolutely boil when I hear of children's time 
being wasted on such rubbish. This is a skill that they will never use for 
anything. Yes, I've heard the old "strengthening for the slate for the slate 
and stylus and the braille writer", but I'm a blind adult and I never had my 
time wasted with coloring and I use my stylus and slate just fine. Also, the 
braille writer has three keys for each hand to push. If this rediculous 
coloring is supposed to be so important for developing hand strength, 
shouldn't the children be using a crayon or pencil in both hands? How does 
it mystically develop strength in the hand not used to hold the marker? This 
is clearly nonsense. Furthermore, Creative expression is supposed to be part 
of art and, unless children are specifically Coloring as part of an activity 
such as a math worksheet - "color the six dogs blue" - all the sighted 
children are expressing themselves creatively. I cannot agree with denying 
blind children this creative expression. When do they get to decide how 
their art will look?

As for using coloring to justify inclusion this is perhaps the silliest 
reason of all. The blind child clearly cannot color and all his classmates 
see his incompetence. worse, they see that, unlike all of them who improve 
during the year, even with the help of an aide or teacher the blind child 
continues to be a pitifully bad colorer. How can this be seen as a positive 
factor in the inclusion of a blind child. Does anyone imagine for a moment 
that the blind child doesn't know that he can't color and that his coloring 
is worse than the other children? Why is it that TVIs will force children to 
color, telling them that they must learn to do what they don't like, but 
will not push them in areas of independence, such as being organised or 
travelling quickly down the hallway, even if they don't like doing so? these 
inconsistencies expose this coloring issue for the travesty is really is.

there are so many things that young blind children should be learning. 
Threading, cutting, modelling, ripping, screwing - bolts & nuts, jar 
lids/containers - paper folding and twisting, a million and one 
manipulative/construction toys designed to strengthen small muscles. This 
coloring is just an excuse for lack of teacher versatility and 

I have actually attended IEP meetings where we have challenged the TVI's 
claims for coloring for blind children. When closely questioned about their 
claims for its value, especially in reference to preparation for brailling 
when only one hand is actually being used, and with reference to future use 
of this skill beyond signing one's name in 10 years or so, they concede that 
it isn't really that useful. We then get it specifically written into the 
IEP that this child will "NOT be made to color with any medium for any 
reason. The child may use a crayon to mark with a check mark when correcting 
their work". Guess what, we have had to fight over it during the year, 
showing them the IEP to get them to stop making the blind child use scented 
markers in coloring; to stop them pretending to themselves that they are 
somehow providing a meaningful art experience to a child who has no idea 
what they're doing besides moving their hand randomly on the paper until the 
aide says "yes, that's good." The fact that the TVI agrees in an IEP meeting 
that it's meaningless as an art experience and inferior as a fine motor 
development activity, and agrees to have it prohibited in the IEP itself, 
and then proceeds to try to make a blind child color in class when they 
think they can do so without anyone knowing, speaks to me of the true nature 
of this activity.

Can anyone tell that I am passionate about the topic of blind children's 
time being wasted by teachers making them color? If I were a parent of a 
blind child being made to color, I would immediately call an IEP meeting and 
have it written into the IEP that my child would not be made to color in any 
medium under any circumstances. Naturally they will argue but if you add up 
the time in any given week that your child is wasting his young life 
coloring, you will be convinced it's worth the trouble.

Heather Field
-----Original Message----- 
From: Meng, Debi
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:40 PM
To: Katie Cochrane ; NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind 
Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

I did see the benefit at 3 and 4 but he should be beyond that.   Thanks for 
the advice.  I guess I need to find out what the goals are and if we can 
achieve them in another way.

-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On 
Behalf Of Katie Cochrane
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:05 PM
To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

My son is 3, and they spend a lot of time on coloring, too.  He is totally 
blind.  Our TVI explained to me it is important to build finger strength and 
dexterity for learning Braille, using a stylus to make Braille notes later, 
etc.  They also want him to get used to participating in tasks just like the 
rest of the kids in the class.  They do a lot of coloring of raised line 
papers, and they put textures under it.  We also have one of those musical 
coloring tablets (I think it's from Crayola) where it plays music as you 
scribble...the faster you scribble the faster the music plays.  No matter 
what we do, it is not his favorite task, either, but I think the reasons 
they gave were reasonable.  Have you asked your TVI what the reasons are for 
focusing on coloring at this point in his education?  I know my son is 
younger, but I would imagine all of these reasons will still be relevant 
when he is in kindergarten.

Take care.

blindkid mailing list
blindkid at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 

blindkid mailing list
blindkid at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for blindkid:


More information about the blindkid mailing list