Preparing Visually Impaired Children for Independent Life
Children with visual impairments must receive adequate knowledge essential for independent living at home, school and in the community. Educational programs must seek to prepare the students for developing the necessary skills to live an independent life.
Teaching Daily Independent Living Skills
Visually impaired children should be taught about essential day-to-day activities and should be adequately prepared by a team of teaching experts in daily living skills such as personal hygiene, self feeding, grooming, cooking, shopping etc. These special needs children should be provided with eating techniques, money identification, and clothing identification techniques to live their life independently.
On the dining table where a visually impaired child has to sit and take their meals keep a ‘Dicem mat’ so that the plate does not slip over. Plate or bowls should have raised ends so that spilling is minimal. Guide the child by taking their hand from plate to mouth. When teaching about feeding use the hand on hand technique. Every time after finishing the meal give a suitable reward to encourage the child to repeat the expected living skill.
Dressing independently is every child’s dream. It is a difficult task for visually impaired children. But by using certain techniques children with visual impairments can obtain independence in dressing and grooming. Try with easy clothing first like tracksuits. Start working from behind so that the child uses their hands in the same way as you are using them. Parents should keep the clothes on the chair in the order they are to be worn. Put the shoes and socks under the chair. Mark the back part of the clothing with some button so that it is easily identifiable.
Every individual needs to interact with other people in society because human beings are sociable. Children with visual impairments also want to interact with their peers and other members of society. Teachers should make groups in order to nurture the habit of sharing and cooperation and engage students to teach and learn skills about positive interaction with their peers, such as in the playground, while eating together, while working etc. Parents should take visually impaired students to social parties, to the market, banks and other places to help them feel comfortable in social and everyday situations with people.
Mobility, Technology and Careers
Learning orientation and mobility skills is very important for visually impaired children. To make independent movement, children with visual impairments should be taught to make use of their residual vision along with other senses. Proper guidance about the different means available should be provided to their parents. Children with visual impairments should be taught about the techniques for using canes, dog guides, human guides and other resources for effective and safe movement.
Children with visual impairments should be made aware of the latest computer technology and taught to use the Internet. Voice terminal service (VTS) is available for visually impaired children to access the Internet. Children with a visual disability should be made aware of this service so that they can make use of it to access the different educational options available via the Internet.
Career education is also very important for independent living. Visually impaired children need to experience job skills and should be engaged in occupational skills like sewing, caning of chairs, making pots and other things that will allow them to make an independent living. They should also be provided with additional educational opportunities and internships for career and advanced education options.
Thus the combined efforts of parents, teachers, and communities will provide skills and opportunities for visually impaired children to build their future with independent living skills so they can have true independence.
Do you have any other tips for teaching visually impaired children to cope independently? Please post a comment.