Millions of parents, grandparents, other family members and caregivers of children who are visually impaired or blind struggle to find the best play and educational products for them. Every day, parents ask professionals for advice on buying toys for their children. However, selecting a toy for any child begins with two steps: first, learning what the child is interested in, and second, assessing his or her skill level.
With the exception of Braille books and some board games, you can find perfectly appropriate toys in your local stores and on the internet. With a few special considerations, the same principles you use when buying a toy for a sighted youngster also apply when buying one for a blind child. The most obvious one is that the toy should appeal to the non-visual senses — sound, smell, taste and touch. Some parents report that their child loves anything that makes an interesting sound such as a car motor or toys that rattle or jingle. Others say their child prefers putting things (such as Lego’s, bristle blocks, etc.) together and taking them apart. Scratch and sniff stickers and books always seem popular. Some children thrive on physical play — balls, indoor or outdoor gym sets, scooters, etc. — are just the thing for them. Yet other children get excited about imaginary play. Realistic puppets, “dress-up” costumes, toy trucks and tea-sets would be for them.
You should not ignore or disregard the visually pleasing or stimulating toy. Most blind children have some vision, and would enjoy and benefit from these as well. You should consider contrast, clarity, and reflective character (how much light does it absorb or reflect) of colors and objects when selecting picture books, games or other toys for your child with partial vision. Action figures and dolls are usually safe bets. When purchasing a board game, make sure to either purchase it already accessible or adapt it before wrapping it. The more you know about your child’s vision, (do they see better in bright or muted light?) the easier it will be to make toy selections.
Vendors who carry gifts for children who are visually impaired or blind:
American Printing House for the Blind