It’s hard to believe it’s already almost that time! The last couple of school years have been unprecedented and a huge change of pace. We are all looking forward to things adjusting back to a new normal, and that includes school. Starting back is overwhelming, especially for parents of children who are blind or have low vision. Simple choices, like what supplies you buy, can make all the difference for your child throughout the school year. NewView’s Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and Certified Teacher of the Blind, Andrea Hamen, gave us her best tips for blind and low-vision students returning to school this year.
1. Starting fresh – If you are moving to a new school district, or this is your child’s first year in school, take your child’s eye report to the administration office and ask to speak with the special education director. If they don’t know, they can’t help. The special education director will help notify your child’s school, specifically your child’s teacher, of his or her needs prior to the start of the school year.
2. Go to Back-to-School Night – Back-to-School night, Meet the Teacher, or any type of open house their school hosts before the school year begins is a great opportunity for your kiddo to explore their school at their own pace. It’s also a great way to chat with their teacher about any specific tips to help your kiddo have their best school year, like not having a seat near a window or having additional lighting depending on their vision needs.
3. Glue sticks – Purchase glue sticks that are purple instead of clear or white. This helps your son/daughter see where they are applying glue.
4. Markers – Consider markers that have a smell so they have an additional sensory factor in play so they know what color it is if they can’t see it, or so they don’t have to hold it as close to their eye.
5. Scissors and pencil boxes – When it comes to anything your child can choose their own color of, be sure to choose a bright color you know your child sees easily.
6. Folders for older students – As your son/daughter gets into middle school, organization will become more and more important. Consider a brightly colored and easily identifiable folder for each subject they are taking. Making sure each class has a different color folder will help them organize their papers/homework.
7. All-in-one keeper (trapper keepers) - If your school asks for an all-in-one keeper for middle school students, consider finding one that is easy to find in a crowd. All black ones might not stand out and get lost.
8. Lockers – Prior to school, they will assign lockers to students. Lockers in the middle of a long hallway may be hard to locate. Prior to school starting, call the school building and talk to your school’s administration. Let them know about your child’s vision impairment and ask if your son/daughter can have a locker on the end.
9. Count on us – if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unprepared as your child starts the school year, take a breath. NewView has one of the best rehab and clinic teams in the state for a reason. We exist to make this easier for you and your kiddo. If you encounter new struggles as your child grows and changes, or you are interested in trying out a new aid before purchasing one, reach out to us! We have loaner devices, from magnifiers to special Assistive Technology devices, and a whole team of people who are excited to help your child be their best.