[blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

Heather Field missheather at comcast.net
Fri Sep 30 23:02:23 UTC 2011

Hi Carol,
As, in the circumstances described in these posts by mothers whose children 
have no usable vision, I can think of absolutely no useful purpose to be 
served by colorin. Even coloring within raised lines has very small value, 
except for older children who have attained hand strength, co-ordination and 
abstract reasoning ability, and are working on some kind of 
diagraming/graphinc or tactile art project.

I liken this to insisting that profoundly deaf 5-year-olds attend violin 
music appreciation classes. While your point on how much wasted time is too 
much, is well taken, I don't believe this is the issue in this case. The 
blind children are being compelled to take part in an activity under false 
pretenses. It does not develop hand strength, co-ordination or fine motor 
skills for what the blind child needs. When pursued in individual 
circumstances with TVIs and blind children with no usable vision, I have 
found in 100% of cases that the activity is chosen out of teacher 
incompetence or ill preparedness.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how coloring benefits blind 
Heather Field

-----Original Message----- 
From: Carol Castellano
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 1:56 PM
To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

I have a feeling there could be some middle ground on this issue.

Some coloring may be a useful experience for some blind children.  I
don't think coloring itself is the real issue--the real issue is the
idea of wasting a child's time when he/she could be doing more useful
things.  I think the fact is that in any classroom on any given day,
part of the time of some child--not just a blind child--might be
being wasted.  Is it okay to waste some of a child's time?  How much
would be acceptable? Parents of many kinds of children--not just
blind children--grapple with this issue.  Teachers do, too.  If
parents/the team determines that the coloring is taking up too large
an amount of time and is really wasting all of that time, then it
should be stopped.  But if it's determined that the coloring serves
some purpose and isn't taking up an inordinate amount of time, then
it could be continued.  The answer would vary, depending on the child
and the circumstances.

If we take the idea of not wasting a child's time to its logical
extreme, we find some difficulties.  In a classroom setting, we can't
realistically eliminate any and all activities that might be wasting
the time of any individual child.  Since classrooms contain a mix of
children with a mix of abilities and interests, there will be times
when the subject or activity is not completely appropriate for a
particular child's abilities and needs.  My own feeling is that this
can help a child to learn self discipline and self control :-),
attributes that can help them in their later academic work and
career.  It's a matter of degree.


At 11:28 AM 9/30/2011, you wrote:
>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 
>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.
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>blindkid at nfbnet.org
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