Pop-Up IEP

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 get hurt."

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

  1. "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."
  2. "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."
  3. "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."
  4. "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".

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