Youā€”parents and grandparents of children with blindness or low visionā€”have gone to great lengths to set the course for your childā€™s life and advocate for their needs. You have been in tune with your young personā€™s needs, preferences, strengths, and limitations and have made decisions, arrangements, and investments to prepare the pathway for your childā€™s success.

Now that your child is in grade school, an important part of preparing your child for success is teaching your child to recognize her needs and preferences and gradually expecting her to advocate for herself and grow in self-determination.

How to Advocate

  • Talk with your child about the accommodations they will use in school and the processes of requesting them. Allow your child to observe you requesting services and accessible materials, and invite them to advocate for themself as they mature.
  • Encourage your child to actively participate in IEP meetings.
  • Have her prepare a list of accessibility tips for her teachers at the beginning of the school year.
  • Help your child understand how to ask forā€”and declineā€”assistance.
  • Help your child develop the motivation to dream and set goals by stepping back and allowing them to meet needs, correct problems, make decisions, succeed, and fail.
  • Coach your child in problem-solving potential or actual issues that arise while attaining what they need or wants. Explore the process ahead of time and encourage your child to plan for the issues they identify. They might recognize the need to bring a magnifier, organize money, and practice the skills needed to ask an employee for assistance if needed.
  • As advocating for oneā€™s needs requires setting goals, assist your child in developing goals across many situations as the needs arise.
  • Teach your child the skills to accomplish goals as independently as possible. Additionally, provide the skills to assertively communicate to others how they will accomplish a task.

As you learn and respect your child’s opinions and thoughts and use them as the basis for teaching the development of self-advocacy and self-determination, you will validate your child’s experiences and personhood. You have the power to help develop them confidence and self-awareness, providing the ability to recognize their realistic strengths and needs. As your child practices these behaviors, they learn to problem-solve their way toward independently reaching goals and meeting needs.