Toys and Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Gift Ideas for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
|Light Stax are illuminated construction blocks that use LED technology but are still 100 percent compatible with existing traditional building blocks. Using their patented system, each Stax will magically light up as it is connected to a power base or any lit Stax. No special connectors or wires are needed. A great choice for children with cortical visual impairment.
|The Bop It! is a perennial favorite that’s available from most major retailers. The Bop It! calls out commands that come faster and faster as the game goes on. When you hear a command, you need to “bop it, pull it, or twist it to stay in the game.”
|Wikki Stix: Fun Activity Set for the Littlest Kids—They can be twisted, stuck on surfaces, shaped into animals, geometric shapes, letters, and numbers, and then untwisted and used over and over again. This set comes with 84 vividly colored stix, a two-sided reusable playboard and an eight-page story booklet with creative ideas.
|This cute and colorful Dinosaur Grasping Toy is great for developing fine motor skills. Wooden segments connected with elastic bungee can be positioned in multiple poses.
|Braille Code Clothing—Created by the mother of a legally blind child, this clothing line represents independence, self-confidence, and pride.
|Dominoes with Raised Dots
|Beeping Foam Soccer Ball: These safe-to-use foam balls are located by following their high-pitched beeping. They operate on an internal rechargeable battery that works for 12 hours on one eight-hour charge. MaxiAids also carries a variety of beeping and audible balls, making family or sibling games of catch, basketball, soccer, or football accessible.
|Brailled Go Fish Cards: Brailled characters and bright bold colors make this old favorite enjoyable for all.
|Nine-piece Shapes and Sounds Puzzle: Lift each shape to reveal a common object of the same shape. The puzzle says the name of the shape aloud when the pieces are placed correctly.
|Tactile Chess and Checker Board Set: The white sections are lower than the black to provide tactile differentiation and to form a pocket for the checkers to sit in. Holes in each square allow the pegs in the chess pieces to be inserted. Red and black checkers are shaped differently as are the black and white chess pieces.
|Do-A-Dot Braille and Raised Line Art is an entertaining art project book for children with low vision who are learning braille.
|Polyblox Totems are wooden rectangles meant for stacking and spelling, revealing print, braille, sign language, numbers, pictures, and shapes.
|Wonderworld Rainbow Sound Blocks are stackable, hollow blocks containing different types of beads which create distinctive noises when shaken.
|Consider stacking cups, peg boards, and age-appropriate lacing beads such as this Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Set to encourage fine motor skills through play.
|Kinetic Play Sand for when you want buckets full of messy, sensory fun for the whole family.
|Your children can have active fun indoors or outdoors with a mini trampoline or inflatable bounce house such as this Jump Castle Inflatable Bouncer.
Books and Magazines in Accessible Formats
|National Braille Press offers a children’s print/braille book of the month club—an annual subscription means that you will automatically receive 12 monthly print/braille books.
|Baking Illustrated: Chapter 8 – Cookies and Brownies: The good folks at America’s Test Kitchen have painstakingly tested every recipe they could find in order to discover the perfect, most fool-proof recipe for, say, the best sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, and of course, chocolate chip cookies. And if you’ve tried other chapters from this book, you know that this is much more than a simple recipe list—it’s more of a baking encyclopedia.
|Latke, the Lucky Dog: On the first night of Hanukkah, a family rescues a golden-brown dog from the animal shelter and names it Latke in honor of the beginning of the holiday. Each night, he gets in a bit of trouble—eating a platter of sufganiyot (fried donuts), tearing open presents, chewing up candles—and each night the family gets a little angry, and then forgives him. A new pet is a growing experience for both the family and the pup, but this charming book focuses on Latke’s gratitude for being taken in (“I am one lucky dog!”) and forgiven. A brief description of the holiday is included. Ages 4 and up.
|Totally Silly Jokes, by Alison Grambs: What’s guaranteed to make you giggle and guffaw, curl up in a ball, and split your sides? These jokes will because they’re the silliest, zaniest, wackiest, and most groan-inducing you’ve ever heard! Available in braille or e-braille formats.
|Scholastic News® Subscriptions from American Printing House for the Blind (APH): APH offers accessible editions of Scholastic News at a cost comparable to regular print subscriptions, and Federal Quota funds may be used! To place your order, visit shop.aph.org.
|Seedlings offers gift certificates for overwhelmed grandparents or anyone who wants to share their love of reading. Check out what’s new on Seedlings.
Gift Ideas for Teenagers, Young Adults, and College Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
|Apple products: AccessWorld notes that “all Apple products, including iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks, have VoiceOver, an integrated screen reader that reads aloud whatever text is on the screen. VoiceOver makes it possible for people without vision to operate a device without sighted assistance.” If you’re in the market for a relatively inexpensive electronic gift, consider the iPod Shuffle for under $50. For someone with a higher budget, the iPad or iPod Touch cost several hundred dollars. If you don’t want to buy a device, another option is an iTunes gift card, and then you can point your teenager to AFB’s list of accessible mobile apps.
|L’Occitane is a great source of multi-sensory gifts like lotions, fragrances, and candles. In 2000, L’Occitane received an Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind for its efforts to make its products accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired through braille labeling on its packaging.
|The Chicago Lighthouse store offers an Atomic Talking Clock and Calendar as well as many other accessible clock options for harried students trying to stay on schedule!
|Braille “Love” Pendant—Jewelry designer Kelly Fehr from ‘Jewelry in Braille’ creates jewelry for her braille-reading niece, Emily, with braille in every design! This is a 1.25 inch by .25 inch piece of pure dark copper with the word “love” on it and a small raised heart at the bottom. The pendant is strung on a 16-inch waxed cotton cord with a lobster clasp.
|Stocking stuffer alert: the Pocket Money Brailler comes on a keychain and allows you to mark one, five, ten, 20, 50, and one 100 dollar bills—just place bills between the two plastic brailled strips and press together.
|Look for Starbucks’ “The Beauty of Braille” gift card—Created in honor of National Disability Awareness Month, this card features the Starbucks logo displayed in braille, a simple way to improve the Starbucks experience.
Gift Ideas for Parents and Teachers
|AFB now offers fun mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, and even jewelry embossed with Helen Keller quotes.
|You can send a free accessible, large print eCard featuring a Helen Keller quotation to a friend or loved one.
|InBraille™ greeting cards from the Chicago Lighthouse celebrate the beauty of braille for those who can see, and those who cannot. Each cover features a unique, contemporary design reflecting the pattern of dots in the card’s embossed braille message.
|Print/braille holiday cards from National Braille Press send a simple message of love and peace. Wish your colleagues, friends, and family peace and goodwill with these unique print/braille holiday cards. The front has the word “peace” in dark blue and in braille as an elegant dove—olive branch in its beak—glides above. Inside reads: “Peace on earth and goodwill toward all.”
|Hadley’s Braille Holiday Card features a watercolor and mixed-media collage depicting a quiet winter landscape of colorful, vintage-patterned paper trees as tactile snowflakes fall from the sky. Each snowflake and a solitary tree are embossed. As a special touch, hidden in the snowflakes along the top of the card, the word “peace” is spelled out in braille.
Recommended Resources from FamilyConnect
- Where Do Cookies Come From? Making Holiday Cookies with Children Who Are Blind—Baking is a great way for children to practice motor, language, and vision skills while having delicious fun. Here are suggestions from Anne McComiskey about how your little person can become a wonderful sous chef and build skills and concepts as they make magic in the kitchen.
- Sharing the Holidays with Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired—For those of us with a child who is visually impaired, we not only have to think about organizing our families’ activities for the holidays, but also how to include our visually impaired children in a way that will be enjoyable to them. As a mom of one such child, Emily Coleman happens to have a few thoughts on this very topic. Important things to remember over the holidays are keeping with tradition, teaching in the moment, adaptation, and time management.
- Calling All Gift Ideas—Yep, it is the holiday season, which means many of us are purchasing presents for our children with visual impairments. Emily Coleman blogs about searching high and low for the perfect gifts for her unique child, and instead, comes up with some options that will work but may not be absolutely perfect. Share your ideas with other FamilyConnect parents! And also check out the following blog posts from a few years back on holiday parties, holiday letters, and more brainstorming of gift ideas!
- Practicing Social Skills During the Holiday Season—Dr. Sharon Sacks is a teacher of students with visual impairments, a university professor in teacher preparation for students with visual impairments and students with multiple disabilities, a school administrator, a researcher, and a person with a visual impairment. She writes about ideas and strategies to help your children practice their social skills while enjoying the beauty and joy of the winter holidays.
- Choosing Toys and Creating a Play Area for Your Child—this article outlines some of the features to look for in a toy for your infant or toddler and describes how to set up a safe and stimulating play area for your child.
- Teaching Your Visually Impaired Baby to Play with Toys—practical ideas about how to introduce new toys to your blind child and help him learn how to play.
Other Gift Guides to Explore
- VisionAware.org, the American Foundation for the Blind’s website for adults who are losing their sight, offers Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, including adapted products and solutions.
- Good Toys for Blind Kids: Suggestions from Parents—The National Federation of the Blind’s National Organization of Parents of Blind Children has pulled together a list made up of regular toys that can be purchased through local shops or toy stores.
- The Best Christmas Toys for Blind Children—WonderBaby offers some of their favorite toys as well as some links offering tips on how to choose the best toys for your child.
- 27 Braille Toys for Kids Who Are Blind—The best way for any child to learn to read is through constant exposure to the written language… and through play! Sighted children play with alphabet blocks or simple word puzzles when they are young to help develop a foundation for literacy, and blind children have the same opportunities with toys in braille.
- Holiday Gift Ideas from Paths to Literacy for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired—ideas with a literary theme, from braille magnetic letters to tactile craft ideas.