People often write to me asking how they can help their young children learn to use their vision. The resources in this article are provided for informational purposes and should not take the place of consultation with eye care professionals or teachers of visually impaired children.
Missy Garber provides the following information for the benefit of parents and teachers working with children who have low vision.
Several videos can be useful. Listed in order of complexity, they are:
Baby’s First Video: This is all black and white. The computer-generated images are slow-moving and set to fun baby music, peppered with giggles and sneezes. You can watch a ball bouncing, a train moving, a bee flying from flower to flower, etc. . . My daughter was captivated by this (and still is) beginning about eight months of age, when her acuity was estimated to be about 20/800. I don’t know where we got this one, but a phone number on the tape is 1 800 637-3555. [Buy it from Amazon.com.]
So Smart! Learning Videos: There are three of these, and each is set to classical music. Computer-generated images are slow-moving, simple and bold, usually black and white, but later volumes use more color. Volume One depicts patterns, simple objects and faces. Volume Two depicts shapes and shows how objects can contain shapes, for example, a triangle transforms into the sail of a boat, etc… Volume Three depicts letters and some objects whose names begin with specific letters. Both Volumes Two and Three have large words labeling the images, so children begin to associate words with things. Visit the Website.
Baby Scapes: This is entirely in black, white and red, and again, set to classical music. Balls bounce to the beat of the music, big white hands against a black background play peek-a-boo, etc… The second volume, Baby Scapes Celebration of Color is also set to classical music and has six sections, each showing stimulating images in one
particular color: blue, red, yellow, orange, purple, and green. I think we got these out of the Right Start catalog, but the phone number on the tape is 1-888-441-KIDS. The color one is a little more cluttered and not as high contrast as the black, white, and red one.
Spot Videos: These are visually very simple and slow. There are a few stories on each tape, and each story corresponds to a Spot book. The books are also visually very simple and uncluttered. It’s fun to read a book such as Spot Goes to the Farm and then watch the corresponding video (and better yet, go to an actual farm). You can also get stuffed Spots of various sizes and hold one while watching. I don’t know what we would have done from 12 to 24 months without Spot! The videos are available anywhere children’s videos are sold such as Toys R Us.
Baby Einstein: This was also a big hit. This is a “video board book”; there are video
clips of toys, familiar objects, and some computer-generated patterns, all very big with plain backgrounds. The visual images are paired with music and the voices of women reciting nursery rhymes in various languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, German, Russian, and French.
Baby Mozart is similar to Baby Einstein in that the visuals are video close-ups of toys, candles, fruit, puppets, etc. . . but it is set to the music of Mozart arranged for babies. We bought these through the Right Start catalogue, but Julie Clark, the producer has a Web page: www.babyeinstein.com. Apparently, Baby Bach has also been released.
All of these, with the exception of the Spot videos, are “infant stimulation” videos. Because a typical baby’s vision is still developing until 18 months of age or so, they are made to appeal to and maintain the attention of a little person with poor vision, like all of those black and white toys on the market now.
The videos in the Babies First Impressions series. These are visually more complicated and somewhat fast, but not as fast and chaotic as a show like Sesame Street. There are ten volumes: Shapes, Colors, Letters, Numbers, Opposites, Animals, Sounds, Seasons, Body, and Food. The same woman’s voice narrates all of them. There are images of objects and words and scenes with children and babies . Visit the Website.
Some other good videos include: Dr. Seuss ABC, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, and See How They Grow: Pets. The last is one in a series which shows how various animals (farm, wild, forest, pond, insects and spiders) grow.
High Contrast Board Books:
Doris Willoughby and Sharon Duffy devote several chapters of their Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students to working with students who have low vision. You can purchase the book using this link from Amazon.com.
The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired also provides a list of visual efficiency skills curricula and resources.