Just like sighted children, blind children learn much about their world through the use of toys. By selecting toys with a child’s visual impairment in mind, parents can ensure that the special toy they give the child is more than just a temporary amusement. It will also be an educational and developmentally enriching tool.
Blind children must discover the world around them through touch. Many toys tailored to visually impaired infants are tactile and contain an assortment of interesting textures. Toys with multiple different textures, such as soft blocks with fur on one side, smooth plastic on another and a rough wood grain texture on yet another prove interesting to blind children as they can manipulate and explore the toy using the sense of touch. Both handheld texture-rich toys, mats or other similar items can provide a tactile delight to blind children.
Just as a dangling mobile may entice a sighted child, an out-of-reach sound will likely capture the attention of a visually impaired infant. Toys with bells, along with those with electronic sounds, prove enticing to many visually impaired children. Particularly attractive are the toys that challenge the child, such as those that contain buttons that the child must push to create the sound. Toys of this type encourage exploration and the child is rewarded with a sound. Many sound-rich toys for blind children feature large, easy-to-find buttons.
When seeking a game for a visually impaired child, consider options that are electronic in nature. Many games feature auditory output, allowing blind children to hear instructions, instead of relying upon another player to read them aloud. Many traditional games are now available in electronic versions, making them more appropriate for blind players.
Just as sighted children can build their brainpower through the exploration of picture books, literary toys can prove educational for blind children. Instead of the standard picture book, select an assortment of basic braille books. Many of these books are designed to teach the child the basics of braille. They include print words that parents can read if they are not yet fluent in braille print. Books on CD are also beneficial.
To grow, blind children must be allowed to explore. As the Blind Children’s Resource Center reports, many parents mistakenly try to protect their blind children, keeping them safely in playpens or limiting their exposure to toys for fear that they might pinch a finger or become frustrated during play. Even though they are well-intentioned, these behaviors do not allow the child to develop properly.