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Making it Back to School

I’ve always loved “back to school time.”  Though right now I mostly enjoy it vicariously through others since I’m not in school.  Yes, I was one of those kids who laid out my new “first day of school outfit “the night before, accompanied by my neatly packed back pack with new supplies including strategically organized binders and folders for each class.  Even now, I get a little giddy when I see all the new bright, shiny school supplies lined up in the stores.  I sometimes even have to purchase a box of markers or crayons just because I can’t resist.  It’s like a little dose of childhood again.  (One day I’ll have to share the story about how I coveted a sixty-four pack of crayons with the built in sharpener in the back of the box for weeks.  I finally got one for my sixth birthday which almost rivaled the new bike I got…almost. By the way, it really promoted my status at my kindergarten table too. ).

Anyway, all the hype about going back to school and those silly Target commercials inspired me with an idea for a new post.  For those of you who haven’t seen the Target store commercials, they include a couple different spots with a teacher singing about a list of things your child will need in order to be ready for the new school year.  They’re pretty corny, but catchy.  So, minus the singing, I thought I’d show you what one of those commercials might say if they were singing about a list of supplies for blind or low vision students.  Here goes!

  • Braille      note taker
  • Braille      paper
  • Slates      and extra stylus’ (regular and full page)
  • Index      cards
  • Dymo      tape
  • Accessible      tactile ruler or click ruler
  • Bump dot      stickers
  • Braille      embosser
  • Tractor      feed paper
  • Sharpie      markers) for the low vision kids who don’t know braille yet)
  • Oversized      binders that accommodate tractor feed paper
  • Spare      cane
  • Extra      cane tips
  • Wiki      sticks
  • Account      with the National Library Service (NLS—Contact your local library for the      blind to learn more about setting up a BARD account)
  • Account      with Book share (visit www.bookshare.org      to learn more)
  • Account      with Learning Ally (Visit www.learningally.org      to learn more)
  • Access      to the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC—talk to your      school district and itinerant teacher to learn more about this if you are      not already familiar with it.)
  • A good      strong IEP
  • Braille      writer
  • Extra      SD, flash, or thumb drives
  • Closed      Circuit TV (CCTV –for those students who may not be braille readers yet.)
  • A good      resource for Tactile graphic production
  • Raised      or bold line note paper
  • Raised      or bold line graph paper
  • Braille      or talking watch
  • MP3      recorder
  • Screen      reading software (such as JAWS or Window Eyes)
  • Magnification      software (such as Zoom Text or Magic software)
  • Flat-sided      Crayons with braille labels identifying the color
  • Coloring      screens (used to place underneath paper for children to color on which      helps make their crayon markings tactile)
  • Portable      digital book player
  • Accessible      scientific calculator (note: the iphone has both a regular and a      scientific calculator on it and it is pretty usable because the iphone has      voice over built into it.)
  • Optical      Character Recognition (OCR) scanning software (such as Kurzweil 1000 or      Open book)
  • Scanner      for scanning print books and materials
  • Abacus
  • Braille      label maker

Disclaimer:  For those of you parents who are experiencing a panic attack right about now, or calling your bank to set up a second mortgage on your home, relax.  This is a pretty comprehensive list of things a blind student should have access to over the course of their academic career, not just one year.  Additionally, many of the different items listed here can be provided by the school district, state office for the blind or state school for the blind.  For more of the “Big Ticket” items such as the pieces of technology, there are a number of distributors who will work with you on making payments, or who sell refurbished equipment for a lower cost.  Additionally, there are even low interest loans available for assistive technology.  Some families have even had success getting local service clubs like the Lions to purchase these “big Ticket” items for their child.

It’s just good for you to be aware of what is available for your child to help them be successful academically.   I’d love to hear any other suggestions some of you may have of things a blind student needs to be successful academically so we can add to this list.  Best of luck to all of you starting a new school year!!

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