Tools for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

Let's hear from Mary, opens a new window, an early literacy librarian, about early literacy skills for children who have experienced loss of vision.

Frequently, our librarians are asked for resources and ideas a parent can use in order to help their child build their pre-reading skills. These are skills a child needs to develop in order to be ready to learn to read on their own.

But what if a child has a visual impairment? The usual strategies, like looking at pictures in a picture book and talking about them, would not be as appropriate.

One idea is to use tactile books so your child can feel the pictures while also hearing the story. "Touch and Feel" books serve this purpose, as well as touchable books that, as a group, are called "tactile books." Lots of these can be found in the library's board book bins or in our Just Right Board Book, opens a new window kits.

Another great thing to do—whether your child is visually impaired or not—is to TALK! Children need to hear language and words in order to communicate AND to understand what they read. Talk about what you're doing, why you're doing it and ask questions.

Here are a few more resources to help:

Paths to Literacy, opens a new window, a website for visually impaired students, gives a rundown on how early literacy acquisition is different for a child with vision loss.

The New York Public Library, opens a new window has a wonderful handout for helping visually impaired children develop reading, writing, talking, singing and playing abilities.

Here are 8 easy ways to introduce reading to your visually impaired child from Perkins School for the Blind, opens a new window.

Family Connect, opens a new window also has an article to acquaint your baby or child with early literacy concepts.

You can enroll your child in the National Federation of the Blind, opens a new window's programs for children ages 0 to 8. The Braille Reading Pals Club will introduce you and your child to Braille, while Early Explorers helps accustom your child to a white cane.

Want to know more? Schedule an appointment, opens a new window with one of our early literacy librarians. We'll help you get the resources you need to maximize your child's early literacy development.