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Talking to young children about blindness

child reading braille

There are many causes of blindness in children and while we might imagine blindness as being in complete darkness, it may be like this or, it may mean that it is possible to see some light or objects.  Sight impairment is a loss of sight which cannot be corrected with surgery, treatment, glasses or contact lenses.  

Six Dots - A Story of Young Louis Braille

Six Dots – A Story of Young Louis Braille is written by Jen Bryant with illustrations by Boris Kulikov and tells of Louis Braille’s experience of having an accident which caused him to become blind in both eyes at the age of five.  A bright and inquisitive child he was determined to find a way to be able to read books just as sighted people could and so, over time, he invented the system of Braille which makes it possible to read letters and words by touching sequences of raised dots.  

Watch the story on YouTube

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Talk about the story

As you are watching the story ask your child about how they think Louis must have felt when he couldn’t see. Do they think it was helpful for his siblings to make letters for him to trace and to teach him to whistle so that he knew when he was getting close to a wall or a building?

Try these activities

Together, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you.  Can you name and describe them?  

Watch the song, “I hear thunder” and join in with it as you get to know it.

Try the activities on YouTube.

  • Pass some familiar items to your child while they have their eyes closed.  Can they identify their teddy, a cushion, a spoon, a book?  Talk about what they did to identify the items by feeling them carefully with their fingers.  
  • Set out five identical cups and in each place one of the following – melted chocolate, blackcurrant juice, raspberries, cheese, vinegar.  Encourage your child to wear a blindfold and to tell you what is in each cup. Talk about how they identified the contents by using their sense of smell. (You can change the contents to suit your child’s tastes).
  • While your child is still wearing the blindfold give them a plate with foodstuffs and ask them to identify them, this time by tasting.  You may include foods such as cereal, a slice of fruit, a sweet or a piece of raw vegetable. Try to include different textures and then talk about how they identified what they were eating through the taste and texture.

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Use an outline picture of an animal from a colouring book and fill in it in with scrunched up pieces of paper. Talk about how it makes the picture stand out like as Braille dots do.

Read other books about the five senses