[nobe-l] A question.

James Fetter jfetter at nd.edu
Sat Jul 24 14:46:19 UTC 2010

I pretty much agree with all of the advice given so far; hands-on 
learning is extremely important, as is Braille instruction and 
mobility/independence training. I would add, though, that any parent of 
a blind child needs to recognize that all blind children, and adults for 
that matter, have their own learning style, just as all sighted children 
do. Some blind children are very adept at spatial orientation, and some 
are going to struggle with it. Some will learn to read more quickly and 
at a higher level than others, and some will favor Braille over auditory 
reading and vice versa. In other words, there are certain basic skills 
that a blind child is going to need, as there are with all children, but 
there is no cookie-cutter approach that will work for every blind child. 
In my case, for instance, I learned to read Braille at a very young age, 
but now, I do most of my reading with a speech synthesizer. I didn't get 
a lot of mobility training beyond the basics as a child, but I lucked 
out in having a relatively good internal sense of orientation. However, 
some very successful blind professionals I know still struggle with 
remembering how their environment is laid out, just as some very 
successful sighted people do. Some are handy around the house; others, 
myself included, have no business with anything more complicated than a 
screwdriver. Some blind children may need to be shown how to do certain 
things--I'm thinking especially of daily living skills, sports, and 
other physical activities--in a very hands-on fashion, whereas some can 
get a lot out of precise verbal descriptions. In other words, the 
biggest mistake, beyond not ensuring that Braille instruction and 
mobility training are available, is assuming that all blind children 
should learn in exactly the same way. All that blind children have in 
common with one another is their blindness, and it is worth keeping that 
in mind.
I hope this helps!

On 7/24/2010 10:20 AM, Marianne Denning wrote:
> Melissa, sighted children learn by observation.  Children who are 
> visually impaired do not have the same opportunity so it is important 
> for parents and others to use hands-on teaching instructions.  When I 
> was a child my mother would yell at me all of the time because I had 
> my hands on everything when we went into a store.  In most cases she 
> did an excellent job teaching me but I don't think she understood that 
> I was using the information from my fingers to educate me about the 
> store, the department we were in and what different products felt 
> like.  She would tell me we were going into an area with breakable 
> items so I absolutely had to keep my hands to myself.  I did follow 
> directions then.  I am also speaking of when I was pretty young.  As I 
> grew up she worried less about me breaking things and would just warn 
> me to be careful.  I think it is important to experience all of these 
> things and people need to give visually impaired children the same 
> opportunity.  I also believe orientation skills and appropriate 
> selection of media for reading are very important.
> Marianne Denning
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Melissa Green" <graduate56 at juno.com>
> To: "National Organization of Blind Educators Mailing List" 
> <nobe-l at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Friday, July 23, 2010 2:36 AM
> Subject: [nobe-l] A question.
>> What advice would you give to parens with a blind child?
>> If you are a parent, what advice or information do you wish people 
>> had given you?
>> I was asked this question as a blind adult.  So thought I would put 
>> this out there and see if I am on the right track or not.
>> Your anser can be two word, or two sentences, or even a paragraph.
>> I am just curious.  I thought that it would be a good topic for 
>> discussion.
>> Melissa Green
>> Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing 
>> to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
>> Blog: http://readergirl5674.blogspot.com
>> Facebook: melissa green northern colorado
>> twitter: melissa5674
>> msn: graduate1531 at msn.com
>> Linked in
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James Fetter
University of Notre Dame
Department of Political Science
217 O'Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556
jfetter at nd.edu

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