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You Know You’re a Blind Parent When…

Photo captions: 1) Dad and girl reading braille together, 2) Dad walking with cane while holding his son’s hand, and 3) parents standing with small child and canes; mom is wearing a t-shirt that says: “i’m a Blind Mom”  and child is wearing one that says: “I’m the child of Blind Parents!” (Dads says: “I’m a Blind Sig Ep!”-ha ha.)

 

 

Okay, so while being a blind parent can be challenging, we know we can do it. But, there are still some hard moments along the way so it helps to have a sense of humor sometimes. We have to be willing to laugh at our own mistakes too. One thing I love about sharing on this site is the feedback and comradery I feel with other parents when we share our funny moments. So, here’s a little light hearted post that only those of us “in the club” will understand.

 

You know you’re a blind parent when:

  • You consider anything within a fifteen minute walk to be close or “doable.”
  • You’ve ever put your child in the bath with his/her socks on. Some would call this a blind blooper, but I call it multi-tasking.
  • Your two-year-old who often talks in his sleep says, “There’s the Uber!”While dreaming.
  • You have arms of steel from carrying groceries, car seats, children, etc. Home, or anywhere for that matter.
  • You have rock hard calf muscles from all the walking you do.
  • Your kids can walk a mile without breaking a sweat or complaining.
  • Your kids “pretend play” includes them riding their ride-along toys up the driveway and announcing, “Your uber is here!”
  • You’ve ever heard your kids acting out a storyline where their dolls are taking public transportation.
  • Your child is looking at books at the public library and asks you were the bumps are.
  • When you read together as a family and your pre-reader grabs a print book and begins running his fingers across the pages like he’s reading braille and pretending to follow along.
  • Your seven-year-old comes home and proudly announces how she put a classmate in his place when he doubted her parents could take care of her because they couldn’t drive. She pointed out how her dad takes the train to work every day and we go to Disney World each year, so obviously we’re capable. Duh!  J
  • When you watch t.v. At someone else’s house and your kids think that person’s t.v. Is broken because it doesn’t talk to you.
  • When your kids prefer to watch movies with the audio descriptive dialog turned on.
  • When your kids know how to use your phone with voice over on and how to disable it on their own.
  • If you’ve ever poured milk over a bowl of scrambled eggs instead of cereal for your child.
  • If your kids get car sick when they ride in cars but have no trouble on busses or trains.
  • If you can install a car seat in under thirty seconds.
  • If you’ve ever wished a shopping cart would miraculously appear along the side of the road.
  • If you’ve ever wished a shopping cart would miraculously appear along the side of the road and one actually did!
  • Your children have their own transit pass and know how to use it.
  • You make up silly songs or chants to sing while you’re walking with your kids to keep them motivated.
  • Both you and your kids get excited when you go someplace in a car and you can leave your car seats inside it.
  • Your three-year-old knows what “cardinal directions” means.
  • If you’ve ever placed a late night Amazon prime order in lee of a Target run for one of the following: snacks for your child’s class the next day, a birthday present for your child to take to a party, toilet paper, or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Don’t judge!
  • You’ve ever mistakenly microwaved a bag of frozen blue berries instead of veggies in a rush to get dinner on the table.

 

I hope these brought a smile to your face. I’d love to hear what other signs you’d suggest for this list in the comments below. Keep them positive please. Thanks!

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How We “Make It” at Disney World–In a Nut Shell.

 

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I have been wanting to write this post for a long time. It’s actually morphed into a couple of different posts and projects as well which is mostly why I haven’t written about this before. I wanted to put everything up together. But I decided that something is better than nothing, so I’m putting up my first post. Now is a great time for it anyway given that a lot of people love to travel to Disney World for the holidays, or may want to start planning ahead for upcoming spring or summer vacations.

 

My husband and I are huge Disney fans. For the past twelve years or so, we’ve been going to Disney World each year, sometimes twice even. WE could talk for hours about our trips and share WAY more with people than they really want to hear, so we often have to rein ourselves in. Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tricks and tips for traveling around the parks as blind people. WE get a lot of questions about how we do this non-visually, especially with small children in tow. I should also tell you that while we have gone twice with Jesse’s family out of the fifteen plus trips we’ve made there, we typically go by ourselves—no sighted guide taking us from place to place. So, I’m going to be tackling this topic in the future in a few different ways because there is A LOT to share with respect to getting around as a blind person. For now, this post is mostly to share a few things sort of as a way to “satisfy the curious” or inspire other blind parents who want to tackle this with their families. My husband and I are working on a couple of episodes for our podcast, Everyday Blind Parents where we will talk about different pieces together, such as how to prepare ahead of time, what gear works best, strategies for navigating each park individually, using customer service, using Guest Assistance passes (should you or should you not), monitoring your children in crowded settings, and using accessible apps to get fast passes and access park info. So, lots more is to come!

So, if you ask me how we travel around Disney World with our family, here is what I’d tell you in sort of a nut shell. Part of our success with this is that first, my husband and I are willing to be adventurous and problem solve.  I think just having this initial perspective is what helped us even be willing to go to Disney by ourselves, let alone to introduce children into the mix when going.  So, after the initial willingness to “get out there”, I would say the next thing that has really helped us is having really good travel skills which we learned from our training at the Louisiana Center for the blind.  As part of our training, we had to attend Mardi gras under blind fold in order to practice traveling in a crowded, condensed area. This experience would also expose you to a variety of people and public attitudes.  I also traveled under blind fold in New York City as part of my training, and we’ve lived and traveled in Baltimore and Washington D.C., so I guess after doing this, Disney World seemed like a piece of cake.  We knew we had the skills and given that it’s Disney, it would be a much friendlier and potentially more helpful atmosphere right?

 

We ended up joining the Disney Vacation Club a few years ago since we were committed for another reason to be in Orlando each summer for a few years, so this has also helped us in that we’ve really become familiar with a lot of things about Disney World and learned our way around from multiple visits.

 

Tips for Navigating the Parks

 

If you’re considering a trip to Disney, I would highly suggest reading some other blogs and travel guides just to get an overall sense of what Disney World has to offer and which will help you plan your trip. With respect to actually getting around the park, I’d definitely recommend using the audio descriptive units that you can check out from Guest Services at each park for starters.  These were really helpful for us during our first couple of trips.  Basically it’s a GPS device with a headset that you wear and as you are getting close to an attraction, eatery, or restroom, it will announce what you are near.  It doesn’t tell you where to go though so you still have to have good navigating skills, but it helps you create a map in your mind and gives you useful info.  The attractions are also described as you are going on them so you know what is happening on the screen or what your car is passing by.  These really helped us learn the parks and get more enjoyment out of the attractions, but now that we’ve been there so much, we don’t use them much anymore.  I’d still highly recommend them though.  Disney also has braille maps and guides that you can also get from Guest Services in the parks, but keep in mind that these do not get updated as often as the printed or online material and things are always changing and growing around the parks.

 

The My Disney Experience app is pretty accessible with voice over on the iPhone, so we use this in the park just like any other guest would and we’re able to get Fast passes, see ride times, and read menus on our own which is really helpful. You can also now order on the appp which helps us avoid having to navigate some of the switch-back lines when ordering food. .  Disney also has great customer service, so we often find a cast member at a ride to ask questions or get directions.  There are a lot of custodians pushing large loud carts around or sweeping up trash too, so we often will hear this and flag down one of them for directions. ON a funny note, Disney does an impeccable job of keeping things clean, so I guess if we ever really got desperate for help, we could just drop a wrapper and someone would come rushing up to us.

We also are pretty good at just asking questions of other guests too in order to get information.  Like for example, when we think we’re close to a certain ride, we will ask a passer-by where the line entrance is.  People are generally very friendly and willing to help.

There are also a lot of auditory cues in the parks like music from the movies playing outside the attraction which you can use to get to that place.  Each “land” or section of the parks also has different music playing throughout it. For example, Adventure land in Magic Kingdom has jungle drum like music while Tomorrow Land has futuristic space age music. The same is true for the different countries in the World Showcase at Epcot. The music gradually transitions between each country to fit its culture. Some attractions have very distinct sound cues too , like the infamous “pew, pew” sounds from2017-09-08 08.08.51-56 the Star Wars sand walker in Hollywood Studios which you can use as a cue to the ride itself or as a point of reference. You’d also be surprised how much you can pick up on things other visitors are saying that can help you know where you are or what direction something is.

 

Smells are also helpful.  For example, there is a cart at the entrance to the World Showcase in Epcot with a delicious honey roasted nut aroma wafting from it(it never moves); and the heavenly waffle cone smell on Main Street in Magic Kingdom lets you know you’re coming up to the ice cream parlor and a turn off to Tomorrow Land.  This is sort of a random tip, but since its Florida, it’s generally hot, and Disney parks actually keep the AC on quite high and doors open to areas to help cool the walkways. (Learned that actually from a cast member on a “Behind the Scenes” tour.) You can almost always locate entrances to eateries and gift shops because you will feel the cool air pouring out as you pass by the store fronts.

 

Monitoring Our Children

We use the same monitoring strategies with our children there that we would use at the park or some place at home.  (Check out my post on strategies for monitoring your children in different settings here) WE hold hands, set up meeting places or boundaries of where they can go, and do a “Marco Polo” type of communication when they are not next to us.  We’ve been going with our children since they were babies, so they’ve either been in a stroller (which we pull behind us), a baby carrying pack, or holding our hands. There are a lot of distractions that tend to pull their attention, but we’ve laid firm ground rules for staying together and have patterns of making sure that everyone gets to see and do what they want so as to minimize any potential running off from us.  We also “hover” a lot. Like for example if we’re going around a gift shop, we just stay right behind them  or hold their hands and let them show us what they want so they don’t run off.  Of course, we also use bells on their shoes which works really well inside buildings. I’ve even had my preschooler wear bells during our trip evenPhotoPass_Visiting_EPCOT_410763249208 though he’s graduated from using them for the most part at home. It just really helps as an extra layer in a crowded and unfamiliar area. Thankfully, we’ve never lost anyone in all the years we’ve been doing this. I am blessed with good kids that stick close, but they are still kids and are easily distracted, so it’s good to have measures in place.

 

Benefits to Staying On Disney Property

 

With respect to where we stay, it’s always on Disney property.  This is because of the transportation options it provides us. If we didn’t, we’d have to pay a lot to take rides to and from our hotel and the parks. Most people don’t realize, but DW is its own community and has its own zip code. It’s about a twelve mile span so you have to drive a bit to get from the Orlando area or fringe hotels to actually be on Disney property. For us being non drivers, this would take a lot of time and expense, not to mention create the extra challenge of hauling car seats around with us throughout our trip. So, we’ve found that while we may pay a bit more to stay on property, in the end it kind of is a wash and provides a little less stress.

 

We use the Disney magical coach to travel to/from the airport, and use the buses that take you to/from the parks and your hotel.  There are also buses that take you between the parks and other Disney World locations, and of course, the monorail. These are all complementary services.

 

When we first get to theIMG_0073 hotel, while we’re checking in, we will ask a few questions of the attendant to get an overview of the hotel. For example, what the layout is like, where the restaurants or food courts are located, what floor or area of the resort the pools and rec areas are, and so forth. .  This helps us start putting together a map in our mind. We also will take some time that first day to just explore the hotel or resort and familiarize ourselves with where things are.

 

Using Lyft or Uber there can also be helpful, but it’s expensive and I’d only suggest using it to go off-property and utilize the free bus services instead. Disney also has their own ride cab service. You can request vehicles with car seats with each of these services, but keep in mind these will have a higher cost. Generally, these vehicles will have only a booster seat, or one booster and one five point harness car seat, so you may not get enough car seats for all your children or the right style they need in order to be buckled up properly. So, if you use these services, you may need to still carry your own car seats with you. Just some things to consider with your transportation needs. WE do always take our own car seats with us on trips, but the less we have to carry them around with us, the easier things are.

 

Amazon Prime, Instant Cart, and Uber Eats are available on the property and can really help with food options or if you don’t want to eat at the park all the time. They are also great if you want a few groceries in your room or if you forget to pack something and only want to pay an arm for it instead of an arm and a leg like you would on Disney property.

 

I will say that we often get stopped by other guests and told how “amazing” or brave we are for traveling there, especially with small children. We’ve even caught people taking our picture or filming us more than once because they are so stunned or impressed. Awkward! That’s a touchy issue I’ll have to save for another conversation.) We’ve even seen Facebook posts by complete strangers about us through friends of friends who happened to be there when we were. So, we definitely get a lot of direct and indirect opportunities to educate the public. This can be flattering, and we appreciate the support, but it can also sometimes be a little mentally taxing to always feel on display. Honestly, we just love going and don’t want our blindness to be a hindrance from us doing something we love and enjoy with our family.

 

So there you have it in a nut shell. If you’re a blind parent reading this and you’d like to try it with your own family, don’t let your blindness intimidate you, because it can be done. Sometimes it’s not pretty, and there will be challenges along the way, but you’ll definitely feel empowered for trying; and the experience with your family will be worth it! Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me through the comments or email them to me. Also, keep a look out for more posts and our podcast episodes for lots more tips and in depth explanations. Thanks for reading!

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It’s a Pain in the Paratransit!

I really, really try not to complain about being blind. It’s not pretty, and frankly, it doesn’t do any good to complain. It’s no secret though that transportation is the bane of my existence, that is, it really bugs me often that I can’t drive. I often find myself wanting to scream to the world, “It’s not fair!” as I lug car seats around town, ride buses with stoners, and show up soaking wet to places(rain or sweat), especially when I am subjected to frustrating situations like the one I’m about to tell you about.

Occasionally, since I’m sometimes limited by my transportation options, I give in and use paratransit. These times are few and far between because as anyone who has ever used this service knows, nationwide, it’s terribly frustrating, always late, and just not very convenient. But, it gets you where you need to go…eventually. There is such a stigma around using it too, and I’ll admit, I’ve had to humble myself at times to take it. There are also differing philosophical beliefs about using this service among different blindness camps. Basically, everyone who does use it though will agree that they have some kind of love hate relationship with it.

I didn’t even start using paratransit until we moved into the suburbs with a child, and access to public transit to various locations was nonexistent. . Once Lyft and Uber came onto the scene however, (game changers by the way) my paratransit use became limited to just going to two or three specific locations on occasion. . These are places that are in the service area for paratransit, but would cost me at least $30-50 to get to one way with Uber or Lyft. Not exactly a justifiable outing, especially when I could pay $4 round trip on paratransit.

So, every once in a while, I suck up my dislike for paratransit and set up a ride. One of the places I will ride it to is a branch of the county library that has a children’s area called Storyville. Storyville is this completely adorable play area designed like a children’s museum which my kids enjoy. But, the cost to get to it with uber or lyft is hard to justify, and completely impractical to take a bus even though one goes there, given my location to it.

It’s been awhile since we’ve gone there, so last week, I set up a ride to it. My ride was supposed to pick me up around 9 a.m., but as most users know, you have a 30 min. pick up window before the ride is actually considered late. At 9:25, the automated service called to inform me that my ride had been delayed and would be to my home before 9:55 a.m. Keep in mind that my boys and I had already been hanging out in our garage and driveway since 9. At 9:55, I decided to call and cancel my ride as it would not be worth it to go anymore. The library would take us about 25 minutes to get to alone, not accounting for traffic and whether paratransit had to pick anyone else up along the way; and our return pick up time was scheduled for 11:30. I considered pushing back our pick up time, but I had plans that afternoon and didn’t want to jeopardize our ride being behind again. While on the phone, the vehicle actually pulled up. So, I figured we might as well go if only just to get us out of the house now that we’d been sitting and waiting for an hour. It was one of those big bus types with the lifts which I hate to ride in also because they are so loud, bumpy, and scream custodialism. (Once when I was about eight months pregnant I took one to my doctor’s appointment and I was worried I was going to go into labor before we reached the office. Wink! )

I loaded both boys and car seats on the vehicle only to find that the retractable style buckle was too large to fit through the seatbelt paths of my son’s car seat. (This is the first time I’ve tried to use this style of car seat on a mobility vehicle.) Additionally, there is no LATCH system in these large vehicles. I turned to the driver and asked her what people do to secure car seats in these vehicles. She informed me that they just pull the belt over the child once the child is strapped into the harness of the car seat. To her point, this is what you do with an infant carrier or Sit n’ stroll car seat like I used to use which are designed with slots on the front arm rests for this purpose, but this method in no way is safe for anchoring any other style of car seat. So, I reluctantly tried this if only to prove my point to her that this was a ridiculous method. There wasn’t even a way to tighten the seatbelt since it’s a retractable single belt where the belt winds up inside the case with the buckle, and the belt was going to slide up and down across my son’s chest as the car seat wobbled when the vehicle was moving. By this point I was so frustrated at the lateness of the arrival and now this new development that I just gave up and told the driver we were not going to take the ride today.

I unloaded both car seats and both boys from the vehicle, and all three of us headed into the house to have a melt-down. My husband was working from home that day and was subjected to my ten minute rant about my anger and dislike for paratransit, how I’d worked so hard to make sure we were ready on time, and how I wished I could just hop into my own car with properly installed car seats to go where and when I wanted like most people do. I then called the Mobility Access line and asked to speak to a customer service representative. Side note, paratransit does have sedan vehicles in which I could have secured my car seat with no trouble, but you’re not guaranteed what kind of vehicle you’ll get, nor is there any way to get them to note on the system that you are using a car seat and need a sedan. Twenty minutes later, we still hadn’t got anywhere and I basically learned that there is no way around this situation. They basically suggested that in the future to just use their taxi service which is just as inconvenient and troublesome, not to mention more costly than a paratransit ride, but still cheaper than an uber. The irony is that this is a state subsidized ride program that is breaking their own state law that children under the age of eight must be secured in a car seat. Furthermore, having such a practice of not being able to secure car seats or suggesting a monkey-rigged solution is certainly asking parents who have no other options for rides to subject their children to risk.

I have no idea the number of paratransit users who travel with children, let alone use car seats when they ride, but my moral compass is out and my immense fired up frustration at such crummy service and hippocracy wants vindication. I want that hour and a half that was wasted that morning back. I want an apology issued to the rider after me who got picked up late and had his or her schedule thrown off. I want retribution for the outing I missed with my boys. I want compensation for disappointing two very upset little boys who didn’t get to go play like Mommy promised if they got ready on time. The whole system needs an overhaul. Truthfully, I’m fortunate enough to have other resources available to me, though they may be limited. There are others who do not and it doesn’t seem fair that people with disabilities are short-changed so often or have to settle for crummy services even if it is an “entitlement” program. How do we change the system that is such a pain to so many individuals?

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Back to School Countdown: Documenting Important Information

My apologies that I got a couple of days behind on the countdown posts.  The release of the new Everyday Blind Parents podcast pushed things back a bit.  In any case, I want to finish sharing some of my “Back to School” helpful strategies for blind parents, so here goes.

Today my tip is to create an electronic, braille version, or large print version of all the important school info—i.e., district, school, and homework website addresses, log in info and passwords, i.d. numbers, lunch account info, schedules, etc. and put it in one place where you can easily and frequently access it. For example, our daughter’s user id and password to log onto the school’s student portal are written in print on a label inside her take-home folder. She has a separate lunch account number which we use to purchase lunch either at the school or online for her. I’ve created an electronic version for all this kind of information related to her. This way, everything is in the same place and in a format that I can access so I don’t have to always ask her, scan something, search emails, or call the school. I try to compile all this info right after school starts so I have it when I need it. Sure, you could just memorize this info, but having it all together frees up brain space too and is good just in case your memory fails you. . I personally prefer putting it in an electronic version, but a hardcopy braille or large print version posted by your computer or on your refrigerator is also helpful—just not too public of a place if you worry about neighbors seeing your child’s info.

Second, I suggest taking a few minutes with a reader or your child to go over the school calendar right after school starts. I like to do this so that I have all the school holidays, breaks, early outs, and important school events in my phone’s calendar. (This also links up with my computer.) Typically, the school sends out a print calendar when school begins, or you can log onto the schools’ website, but I find that putting it in my calendar ahead of time not only saves me time, but assures that it’s in a format that is accessible to me. This is especially helpful if the website for the school or district isn’t the most user-friendly with adaptive technology. If you prefer a hardcopy version, creating a braille or large print list of the important dates to know is also a great help.

So there you have it. Hope this helps make things a little better for you this year. Let me know what works for you when tackling this kind of important information.

 

 

 

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Everyday Blind Parents Podcast

 

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I am so excited to write this post! So, my Back to School countdown posts kind of trailed off the last couple of days, but for good reason. I’ve been working on a major project (for me) for quite sometime and it all sort of came together this past week. So, if you are still waiting for the last two back to school posts, they will be coming shortly. In anycase, here is my big news!

 

For the last year and a half I have been putting together a podcast for blind parents. It has definitely been a labor of love and stretched my brain. I found myself faced with a huge learning curve as I knew nothing about creating a podcast. I should also tell you that I’m not exactly the most tech savvy person either. There are not too many editing and recording software programs out there that are accessible with a screen reader, so it’s taken me a little time to find the right tools to get the job done—still figuring a few things out. So, this knowledge gap, along with some personal family challenges really set me back from my initial deadline last year. After putting things on the back burner for a time, I started up again and was set to launch at the beginning of the summer. But, we ended up spending several weeks in Utah with my family as my mom has had some health problems, , so things got pushed back again. Family first right? In any case, this long explanation is all to say that it’s finally live!!!

 

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Photo caption:  Screen shot of EBP podcast page on iTunes

I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. I don’t even care if anyone listens to it…okay, well maybe a little bit. But I’m just so glad to have it launched. This seriously has been weighing on my brain for so long and I know I’ve driven my husband crazy talking about it endlessly. It’s also taken many long hours and my kids have watched WAAAYYY too much t.v. while I’ve been finishing this up. In any case, I’ve learned so much along the way and developed some new skills, so even if it’s a bust, the lessons learned from all this work were worth it. Last week when I submitted it to itunes for review, I felt as elated as I did when I finished my Masters’ comprehensive exams.

 

So, if you’re interested, and I hope you will be, please check it out. There are a few ways you can listen. First, you can subscribe through your regular podcast subscription service (i.e., itunes, stitcher, etc.) by searching for “Everyday Blind Parents”  or, you can visit the podcast website directly here and subscribe to the feed.  . You can also read more details about the podcast and access show notes. The first episode, which you can listen to here, is an introduction episode where Jesse and I talk together about our initial experiences becoming blind parents as well as some of the everyday challenges we face.

 

Thank you to everyone who has helped support me in this endeavor. Special thanks to my very patient and tech savvy husband who has spent several hours figuring things out with me, searching for deleted files, and been an agreeable participant for a few episodes.

I truly hope that this will be helpful to other blind parents out there. I have so many great ideas and interviews lined up for future episodes. I also welcome feedback, so if you have something to share, please email everydayblindparents@gmail.com.

Thanks again and please help spread the word!!!!!

 

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Back to School Countdown Day 3: Paper, Paper, Paper!

Photo Caption:  Spiral notebook homework page

 

It’s back to school time so I’m dusting off some of my blind parent “lessons learned” which I used to help us have a successful school year. Today I’m sharing some tips for dealing with those daily items that your kids bring home.

 

So, if you have kids in school, you already know the volume of paperwork that comes home on a regular basis. Managing all of this when you can’t read half or all of it can be a challenge. Thankfully in the past, our teachers have been pretty good about emailing all the class parents when important notices are coming home (i.e., permission forms, flyers about an upcoming school event, a class or school need, etc.) so I know to look out for it or ask my child about it. But even if your teachers do this, I’ve found it is still best to try and go through these items daily if possible (or as regularly as you can) so as not to miss anything—not to mention you can keep up on your child’s progress by reviewing his assignments. .

 

apple apps hand home screen
Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

 

Photo Caption:  Homescreen of a smart phone.

Scan It!

For starters, using apps like Seeing AI, the KNFB reader mobile app, Be My Eyes, or a magnifier app (if you have some usable vision can make daily reviewing of papers much more doable. . You could also use a desktop version of a scanning program like Kurzweil. There are a lot of different types of free or inexpensive open source scanning programs out there too, so if you’re not familiar with one, I suggest you talk to a blind tech friend, or contact a local technology assistance program to familiarize yourself with one of these tools. They will be worth their weight in gold and save you so much time and headache. I’d also suggest making this part of your nightly homework routine so that you don’t get bogged down with paperwork. Since we can’t skim these kind of items “at a glance” like our sighted counterparts, you’ll want to try and keep up on it since it may take a bit more time to review these items with whatever method you choose.

 

kids sitting on green grass field
Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

Photo Caption:  Two small boys wearing floppy hats and overalls sitting on grass reading to each other.

Use a Reader

Another good idea is to include these papers in a session with a reader (like if you have someone who works with you on a weekly basis to read mail.) Using readers is also a great way to fill in things like permission or registration forms. Perhaps you have an assistant at work who could take five minutes every morning to browse through your child’s papers and notify you of any important info or read those quick handouts that often come home. You could also hire a neighbor (like a teenager who wants to earn a little extra money) to come over every day for a half hour or so and go through papers with you.

grey apple keyboard and grey ipad
Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Photo Caption: laptop keyboard and tablet

 

Go Paperless!

Another great tip is to go paperless as much as possible. You can do this by subscribing to PTA email lists, review the school and county websites regularly, and get access to your school’s regular newsletters. For a time, our school’s electronic version of the newsletter was sent out in a non-accessible PDF format, so we arranged for the school to send home a paper version which we can scan and read ourselves. Most schools are supposed to offer both versions anyway to accommodate for families who may not have access to electronics or Internet. In any case, reviewing these things online is a more accessible way to keep up on important school info and a lot of the same announcements are replicated in handouts that come home with the students, so you can cut down the amount of stuff you have to read in hardcopy. Just as a side note, your child will probably bring scholastic book order forms home all the time. Generally, your teacher and/or school have a code that tracks your purchases to raise money for the school. You can view and order most of these items online and still use the codes, so ask your teacher to email this info to you if this is something of interest to you so that you can browse and order online and skip the paper all together.

 

Read in Real Time!

Lastly, here are some “out of the box” ideas: take a photo or use a service like Skype or Facetime to ask a friend or family member to browse these kinds of things for you. Grandparents especially may love being included in this way. These could be great ways to go over things like a test with your child’s handwritten answers that a teacher is asking you to review and sign, or to have a worksheet or diagram explained that can’t be read by some kind of text reading program. Services like Ira can also be helpful for this, but keep in mind that you’ll be paying for this time. Lastly, enlist your child. (Depending on their age and an abilities.) This is a great way to build reading skills, reinforce concepts, and teach responsibility.

 

So there you have it. WE use a mix of these same things and sometimes things work better than others, but the main point is to find what works for you and be willing to try new methods that may be more effective. Let me know what methods you’ve found that work best for you. Good luck!