Specialized Children’s Services
Children’s vision loss is at the center of our teaching. Colleen Kickbush, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, shares her insight.
What is unique about Vision Forward’s early learning programs?
Our vision services are unmatched within the community. Understanding children’s visual impairment and how to best aid in their individualized development is critical to the work we do at Vision Forward. Each child receives a vision assessment by a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) which guides our full team of expert educators and therapists in making the necessary adaptations that will help each child learn and progress. The TVI has a special teaching license for working with children who are blind or visually impaired and instructs on the Expanded Core Curriculum, covering compensatory skills in areas like braille and assistive technology.
What is an important goal in educating a child who is blind or visually impaired?
Learning to identify what motivates children to be more independent is crucial to their development. For typically developing children the motivation to walk takes time and is reinforced through observation.
For children with vision loss we need to incorporate a variety of techniques and strategies to encourage their desire for movement. This is achieved by incorporating music, colored lights, flashing lights, or a variety of textures to touch. Parents and caregivers are also coached on how to implement these concepts at home.
Do surroundings affect a child’s learning?
There are environmental accommodations that can be incorporated to assist a child in navigating the world. One simple example, for low vision situations, is to ensure that there is an adequate amount of direct task lighting, while reducing glare or extra interfering light, for the child to achieve success with various activities. Another example is to place food or snacks on a color contrasting plate or play with a toy on a color contrasting background.
It’s all about the impact!
One of our greatest joys is observing as children independently complete tasks they were previously not able, or motivated, to do. Whether the task is crawling, walking, or eating independently, we celebrate all progress and success. Even the “small wins” help build a foundation for achieving larger developmental milestones critical for the next transition. For 50 years, serving children with vision loss has been the specialty of our teachers and therapists. Together we strive to ensure that all children receive the unique and specialized services they deserve throughout their lives.
Each child’s needs are unique and the individualized service plans are time intensive. Donors like you have helped support these services that often do not have other funding options. Your commitment ensures hundreds of children receive the specialized services they need at a critical time in their development.