What’s Buzzing with the National Federation of the Blind
We hope the school year has gotten off to a smooth start for your family. In the last Bee, we discussed how to ensure your blind child is fully included in school art, music, and gym classes. In this issue, we will be offering advice on including your child in library, technology, and outdoor/indoor recess or before- and after-school care. But before we get started, we are thrilled to bring you this exciting announcement from Mattel and the National Federation of the Blind!
UNO® INTRODUCES FIRST OFFICIAL BRAILLE DECK
In Partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, UNO Braille enables blind and sighted to play together, making game play widely accessible
Oct. 1, 2019, El Segundo, Calif.– UNO, the number one card game globally by Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT), today announced the debut of UNO Braille, the first official UNO card deck featuring braille. The new game will make game play widely accessible for the more than 7 million blind and low-vision Americans in the U.S.
Designed in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States, UNO Braille features braille on the corner of each playing card to indicate the card’s color and number or action.
“With the launch of UNO Braille, we’re making a real impact on a community that has been underserved by providing a game that both blind and sighted people can play together,” said Ray Adler, Global Head of Games at Mattel. “We are proud to have UNO Braille on-shelves and to be making UNO more accessible and inclusive to even more families.”
UNO Braille packaging features braille on the front and back for clear identification, and directs players to UNOBraille.com where they can find play instructions featuring .BRF (braille readable files) for download. Players can also access voice-enabled instructions through Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
“UNO Braille is doing more than making this beloved game more accessible. It’s also helping promote the importance and normalcy of braille by putting it in places people might not expect, and integrating it into the play of blind children,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The fact that a blind person is now able to play a classic game of UNO straight out of the box with both blind and sighted friends or family members is a truly meaningful moment for our community. I look forward to enjoying UNO Braille with my own family and I know that blind people across the nation will embrace this important and exciting step toward more inclusion and accessibility.”
This isn’t the first time UNO has re-imagined its classic game play to expand inclusivity. In 2017, UNO introduced UNO ColorADD – the first accessible card game for those with color blindness.
UNO Braille is available through Target stores nationwide and on Target.com for $9.99. Visit UNOBraille.com for more information.
We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to get people to see Braille as a normal part of life and an inclusive way for the blind and sighted to play together!
Now, on to information on how to ensure your child is included in library time.
Many schools offer children the opportunity to visit the library once a week. This visit might include the librarian reading a story to the children, perhaps showing children a video, or engaging the children in an activity to enrich the classroom curriculum. Also, children are allowed to browse and select a library book to take home to read. The following information is to share with the school librarian or classroom teacher, who often creates a class library.
If your child is a Braille reader, even if he is just learning Braille, he needs a variety of Braille books to browse and choose from, just as sighted children do. This is true both in a classroom library as well as the school library. Braille books are available and can be obtained from a variety of sources. Almost all states have a library for the blind from which your child’s school can borrow books for the school’s library. Once read, these books can be returned and replaced with new books. Perhaps a volunteer group in your state embosses Braille books for children. You can also obtain books for free from one of the sources listed here.
In addition, National Braille Press, Seedlings Braille Books for Children, and The Braille Superstore offer books for purchase at reasonable prices.
Make sure the librarian describes the illustrations in the books she reads, particularly if they are essential for understanding the story.
When possible, encourage the librarian to have on-topic objects to accompany the book being read. These objects, which can be passed around for all of the children to explore, will increase everyone’s understanding of the story.
Give the librarian information regarding described videos. These are movies with an audio track that explains the action taking place on the screen. Unfortunately, many educational videos do not have audio description available, but many mainstream shows popular in libraries, such as Clifford The Big Red Dog, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, and Llama Llama, do have audio description available.
Technology is integral to our world, and children are being exposed to it earlier in life. It is unfortunate that the number of educational apps and games truly accessible for young blind children is quite low. The American Printing House for the Blind does have some options. There are also a few games for the iPad which help children learn Braille. Your child’s teacher of blind students should work with the technology teacher to determine what skills students are working on in technology, and how those same skills can be taught to your child.
Recess/before-and after-School Care
Your child should be encouraged to run, climb, and swing on the playground along with her sighted peers. The same is true with before-and after-school care. Your child should have a variety of engaging activities in which to participate. She should not just be taken to the swings every recess because “she likes to swing, and she is safe,” or just be given Legos to play with at after-school care because “she can feel the Legos and build with them.” There certainly are children who truly want to swing the majority of the time and who can play for hours with Legos and not get bored, but since sighted children have a plethora of activities to choose from, your child should have that same opportunity. Here are some suggestions:
It is not unusual for children to have structured games to choose from at recess. Make sure more than one of these games is accessible for your child. Perhaps you have a jump rope station, a station with a game that uses a ball that makes noise, and a hula hoop station. (These are just examples to get you thinking.) Even games such as tag can be made accessible if the person who is “it” has to carry something like a box of Tic Tacs, which will make noise as she runs. Possibly, there could be a station where students need to move like animals. They might have to do the crab walk, the kangaroo hop, and the bear walk. Games such as Mother May I and Simon Says, or even Red Light Green Light, need very little, if any, adaptation. The key is making sure these types of games are offered to all children and ensuring your child has choices and the opportunity to play with other children who enjoy the same games.
For indoor recess or before-and after-school care, make sure there are a variety of board and card games, along with other activities, your child can enjoy. A Braille game of Uno®, a deck of Braille playing cards, Jenga, Shut the Box, as well as things like Legos, Playdough, and a variety of tactile art supplies should be available to your child along with the other children. Children get bored with the same choices each day. Your child is no exception. Help the staff at the before-or after-school care come up with other ideas if your child complains about being bored.
Article of the Month
The latest issue of Future Reflections has a wonderful article about the fact that young children can use canes! There are times that professionals are hesitant to put a long white cane in the hand of a young blind child. Teachers might have questions about having your child use the cane around the school. Some may argue a “precane” device is “just as good” as a cane for very young children. This article provides another opinion and offers plenty of practical advice to think about. We hope you enjoy it, and please check out the entire issue of Future Reflections!
The Preschool Blind Child Can Be a Cane User: An Article Review