Happy Mother’s Day: My Top Three Tips for Parents of Children with Disabilities

With Mother’s Day just around the corner and Father’s Day soon to follow, many of us are thinking about or already know how we will be celebrating those very special holidays. This is also a great opportunity to remind parents of children who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise disabled about the important role they have in their sons’ and daughters’ lives.

Growing up as someone who is blind, I understand firsthand how important it is for parents to support and give their children with vision loss or other disabilities the opportunity to explore and learn to be independent. These are my top three tips for parents of children with vision loss or other disabilities:

  • There are numerous resources for you and your child. These include support groups for families of children with disabilities. There are also websites offering message boards, links to other resources, blogs and groups on social media covering different disability topics. The FamilyConnect website from the American Foundation for the blind offers resources and information for parents of children who are blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled.
  • A good education program is critical for a child with a disability. For some, this might be a mainstream classroom in their home district, while other children might benefit more from a school or classroom specialized in students with disabilities. It might also be appropriate for a child to be in both types of settings. You can read more about the different school options for children who are blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled in my previous post. You can also read more about The Chicago Lighthouse’s Education Services for children of all ages with vision loss or additional disabilities.
  • Allow your children to be independent, and always find new learning opportunities. Independence means different things for each child. A child who is blind or visually impaired can learn how to travel and live independently, for example. No matter your child’s disability, always teach and encourage them to do as much as possible on their own. It is also important for children to learn to ask for assistance when needed. Teach your child that this is perfectly ok, and how to ask for help.

Providing the right support to a child with a disability is critical for their development and later success in life. Thanks to all the mothers, including mine, for your unwavering love and support! You can read this post from last year about my mom’s experience raising a child who is blind. If you want to see things from the perspective of a parent with vision loss, you can read Dawn Hale’s story. Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at The Chicago Lighthouse!

Gift Ideas for Dads and Grads with Vision Loss

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With Father’s Day just around the corner and graduation season in full swing, many might still be at a loss as to what to give their loved ones with vision loss. Things like clothing, perfumes, gift cards and tickets to concerts or their favorite sport teams are always a great option. If you are looking for specific and accessible products for your friend or family member with vision loss, The Tools for Living Store at The Chicago Lighthouse carries over 900 different items.

Technology is the perfect gift for both the dads and grads on your list. The store carries something for everyone, from talking devices to digital recorders and of course, the always popular magnifiers. The technology guru will enjoy the Explore 5, a new and very popular handheld magnifier from Humanware. Its regular price is $795, but you can purchase it for $595 for a limited time. The new Orcam device will also facilitate reading for people with little or no vision. Your college bound loved ones might also appreciate a talking or large print calculator or portable note taking device.

The chef in the family will greatly enjoy and benefit from the various cooking tools the store offers. These include Braille and large print measuring spoons and cups, talking meet thermometers, special spatulas and numerous other tools. A variety of other talking, Braille and large print products will also help your loved one be more independent at home, school or work. Of course, it is also important to have some fun after working and studying hard! The store also sells a wide variety of large print and Braille games so you and your loved ones can unwind at the end of the day.

We realize more than anyone that protecting your eyes from the sun is very important during the summer, and this is also true for people who are blind or visually impaired. Everyone will benefit from the wide selection of sunglasses sold at the store. If you simply want to get a souvenir, you can choose from Chicago Lighthouse mugs, shirts, tote bags and more. The Braille readers on your list will surely appreciate a Braille greeting card along with their gift! Other small items, like pocket flashlights are also available. Regardless of your choice, your loved ones with vision loss will both enjoy and benefit from your gift this summer.

The Tools for Living Store is holding an online sale through the end of June. With the purchase of $100 or more, shoppers will get a 10 percent discount at checkout (some exclusions apply.) To order and take advantage of this sale, visit http://www.lighthousetoolsforliving.org. To find out more or purchase any of the products, you may stop in person at our main location at 1850 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago or at our Glenview facility at 222 N. Waukegan Road. You may also call toll free at 800-919-3375 or email store@chicagolighthouse.org. Proceeds from all products support the programs offered at the Chicago Lighthouse.

Happy Father’s Day, and best of luck to all the new graduates from all of us at The Chicago Lighthouse!