By Emily Coleman

visually impaired little boy enjoying finger painting, with a teacher helping

Photo courtesy of Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO

When Mother’s Day rolls around, moms get excited about what kind of card and/or project they’ll receive from their children. Sometimes, school projects aren’t always set up for children with visual impairments. To make a card meaningful for those children, it should have a tactile and/or auditory component; it can even teach a skill or lesson, and it should most definitely be made by the child.

The last point made seems the most obvious, but it is also the one taken for granted on many occasions. Children who are visually impaired often receive too much help, either because expectations are low or because somebody is feeling helpful. This is entirely unnecessary if the project is adapted for their abilities, and perfection isn’t the goal.

Sometimes it is easier to finish a project for these children because adaptations take too long and are sometimes complicated. Sadly, this takes away the greatness of the gift for the mom who is receiving it. Moms know their own child’s abilities, and it’s sad to receive a gift that was obviously made by somebody else.

To keep the child engaged when making a homemade Mother’s Day card, remember that children who are blind need something with either an auditory or tactile component. The child will have more fun making it if they understand what they are making, and their mom will love that the project was fun for them and not just something to be completed.

While making cards, this can include gluing down real objects on paper, adding textured papers and stickers, and of course, using braille if appropriate. For those children that aren’t yet writing on their own, you can have them “scribble” some braille onto a card. This is very similar to when a sighted child scribbles. Just have them sit down at the brailler, and let them punch keys. For those students more advanced with braille, they can even design pictures on their cards using braille cells.

This brings us to my point about teaching a lesson. Parents and educators are pretty good about sneaking in a lesson. This isn’t any easier than when doing a fun project. So, if you want the child to work on braille or “scribbling,” make sure that’s part of the project. If they’re learning how to use scissors, make sure they’re cutting something out. If fine motor skills are the target, have them peel the backs off all their own stickers. Mom will love to see their new skills at work.

Mother’s Day cards are some of the best-kept treasures over time. They are displayed for months and then carefully stowed for years. So, please remember to have your child make the gift and provide fun materials for them. I only suggested a few, but please share additional ideas for making Mother’s Day cards. What are your favorite materials to use? What have your children loved to get their hands on?