7. "We are concerned about your child’s safety. We can’t
let him/her be involved in that activity because we don’t want him/her to
Why is this statement problematic?
Blindness or visual impairment should never be the reason that children
do not participate in an activity. Children who are blind or visually impaired
learn a series of skills that enable them to accomplish tasks with less than
full eyesight. In addition, adaptations can be made to various activities
so that children who are blind can take part. Some individuals assume that
children who are blind or visually impaired are more fragile, somehow made
of glass, and that everything in the environment is an inherent danger to
them. Unfortunately, overzealous attempts to protect children who are blind
or visually impaired from physical harm may teach them that they are incapable
and helpless. Children repeatedly exposed to such beliefs are susceptible
to learned helplessness and negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Conversely,
children who are given opportunities to learn skills and participate in a
variety of activities with appropriate adaptations gain competence and confidence
and increase their knowledge base and concepts.
Possible Responses for Parents/Advocates
- "We understand that marching band is competitive and that you don’t want
any student to get hurt. However, we know that many children who are blind
or visually impaired around the country have been safe and successful in
participating in marching band. We are researching strategies that have worked
for other children. As we learn, we will share with you what we discover."
- "Ling is only as vulnerable as the other children are when they are not
paying attention. She has had bumps and bruises growing up, just as other
children. We do not want to limit her experiences to protect her from those
minor scrapes. She will be fine."
- "Brian should have no problem performing on stage. It would be helpful
to let him orient himself to the stage and to mark the spot where he is supposed
to stand with heavy-duty tape. After that he should be able to independently
find his mark. His part and the actions of his character do not need to be
altered to compensate for his blindness."
- "Swimmers who are blind or visually impaired can compete safely by having
a spotter use a long pole to tap the swimmer on the head, shoulder, or back
as they near the wall. Wrestlers who are blind or visually impaired can compete
safely with each other by maintaining physical contact and touch fingertips
whenever they are standing. People who are blind or visually impaired compete
in track by running along a guide wire or running with a guide. People who
are blind or visually impaired participate in archery by using verbal descriptions,
physical guidance, and positioning guides".
Read the Law
Collabortive effort between the
National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities
and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Copyright © 2008 National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities
Copyright © 2006 National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities
Permission to use for educational purposes granted.