Welcome to the STEM Learning Toolkit for parents of blind children! The National Federation of the Blind understands that with the proper tools, environment, and encouragement blind people can participate equally in any career field they choose. The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are often seen as incredibly difficult or impossible for blind people to participate in, let alone make a career out of.
This is where you come in! As a parent, you want to support your child in participating actively in all areas of their education, including science and math. This toolkit was designed to support you as the parent of a blind child in guiding your child’s successes in STEM and much more.
In this toolkit, you will find:
- A variety of suggested activities to get you started in helping your child build key skills for success in STEM.
- Links to the free NFB EQ Curriculum full of helpful information on supporting your child and exciting lesson plans to get them engaged.
- Information and links to other helpful resources including the National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), a network of parents just like you.
Why Is It Important for My Blind Child to Participate in STEM?
You may be thinking to yourself, “My child has no interest in science,” or “My child wants to be a musician, so STEM isn’t that important.” There is a common misconception that science and math are primarily visual studies and therefore of little interest or no use for blind children to pursue adamantly. Then why have we put together an entire toolkit to help you encourage your child’s STEM learning?
Let’s take a step back. The real query here is why is it important for children in general to participate in STEM? Many researchers have demonstrated the benefits of STEM education including the development of problem-solving and decision-making skills. Learning opportunities in STEM have been shown to benefit children in all areas of academics, such as literacy and language, not just STEM subjects. This means that when children learn through STEM activities, they are building skills and knowledge that will help them prepare for careers in a variety of fields.
Your blind child should be able to participate equally and effectively in the same STEM learning opportunities as their peers. With a variety of tools, technology, practice, and alternative techniques your child can have fun and successful learning experiences. We hope that the information provided in this toolkit will help you set high expectations for your child’s ability to be an active learner in their classrooms and at home.
Here are some great activities to help you and your child build key skills to support their STEM education. The grades given here are only suggestions. Please feel free to explore the activities in all the grade levels and do whatever activities are appropriate for your child’s skill level and interest. In addition, these activities are meant to be a springboard. We encourage you to explore and expand on the main ideas presented here.
Kickstarting Their STEM Journey: Activities for Blind Students in Preschool and Elementary School
Learn about shapes and tactile drawing, tools and technology, DIY accessibility tricks, and building nonvisual skills in our preschool and elementary activities section.
Nurturing Independence: Activities for Blind Students in Junior High and High School
Learn more about drawing, tools and technology, adapting tools and technology, and building nonvisual skills in our junior high and high school activities section.
Getting Creative: Affordable and Simple DIY Adaptations
Learn about the many simple and low-cost strategies that can make everyday items more accessible in our additional details on DIY adaptations section.
- NFB EQ for Teachers: A Nonvisual and Accessible Engineering Curriculum
- This curriculum is free and includes more than ten lessons to grow your child’s STEM skills.
- All the materials are available in several accessible formats and includes digital files for the accompanying tactile graphics.
- This curriculum is also a great resource to share with your child’s TBS/TVI or science teacher. In particular, Facilitating STEM Learning That Empowers Blind Students is a fantastic section from the curriculum to share with your child’s educational team.
- National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS)
- This is the homepage for NFB STEM programing and information.
- Visit the site to learn about past programs and check in to learn about upcoming opportunities your child can participate in.
- National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
- NOPBC is a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind that supports, advocates, and holds high expectations for blind children.
- This is a great place to find additional resources, advocacy information, and a fantastic network of families just like yours.
- Sensational Books
- Your resource for information about the Sensational BlackBoard for tactile drawing.
- National Federation of the Blind YouTube - Education Videos
- This is a great place to check out videos from several NFB programs including NFB BELL, NFB EQ, and NFB Youth Slam.
- You will also find demo videos on the Talking Lab Quest digital measuring device and more.
- Future Reflections Special Issue: Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- This special issue of Future Reflections, a magazine for parents and teachers of blind children published by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults in partnership with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, features several helpful articles including “Science is for Everyone” and “Raised in Science: How Parents Can Bring Up a Blind Scientist.”
Get in Touch
The National Federation of the Blind has several email lists that are simple to join. These lists can be a great place to get your questions answered.
- NFB Mailing Lists - Full List
- Blind Kid - For Parents of Blind Children
- NABS - National Association of Blind Students
- NFB Science - Science and Engineering Division List
You can also contact [email protected] with questions about the National Federation of the Blind’s STEM programs.