Future Reflections Convention Report 1997, Vol. 16 No. 3


Focus on Infants and Toddlers: Encouraging Independent Mobility

Materials Available to Parents of Infants and Toddlers

White Canes for Blind Kids
VHS video, 12 minutes
National Federation of the Blind
Fee: $15 plus $5 S/H

Order from:
National Federation of the Blind Materials Center
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

The ability to move about and explore their surroundings is essential to the healthy development of all children, blind and sighted.

This video demonstrates how the use of the white cane enables blind children, from toddlers through teens, to move about quickly, safely, and confidently. Parents interviewed in the video describe the benefits of early cane use for their children.

Video footage, taken at a NFB National Convention, shows a wide range of blind persons of all ages traveling, singly and in groups, with their canes. These real-life scenes and on-the-spot interviews with parents and blind adults encourage parents to view the white cane with a positive attitude. In the modern world, white canes have become for the blind both a tool for, and a symbol of, independence.

Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your Infant and Toddler
Publisher: The Lighthouse, Inc.
Fee: $2.50 for a single copy
$2.00 each for 10 or more

Order from: The Lighthouse, Inc.
Attention Publications Department
36-20 Northern Boulevard
Long Island, New York 11101

Literature for parents of blind infants and toddlers should be easy to read, it should focus on practical tips that parents can put into use immediately, and, most of all, it should be positive in approach. The bottom line is that when a parent finishes reading such literature they should feel less like crying and better prepared, mentally and emotionally, to get on with the business of being a parent.

The publication, Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your Infant and Toddler, meets this criteria. Distributed by The Lighthouse, Inc. for a small fee, the information is presented in a positive context. It has good descriptions of action-oriented activities, the photos enhance the text, and the text contains some good general parenting advice.

The booklet lacks one thing—it does not address cane use among toddlers beginning to walk. However, since so much of the text focuses on the pre-walker, this is not a major detraction.

Furthermore, the use of the white cane by children—especially very young children—is admirably addressed in the new video issued by the National Federation of the Blind, White Canes for Blind Kids.

Here now is an excerpt from the booklet, Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your Infant and Toddler:

Landmarks and Clues

Introduce your baby to his environment in an orderly fashion to help him understand that there is an order to his world over which he can gain control. By drawing your child's attention to important landmarks and clues, you help him organize his understanding of his environment and encourage outward exploration.

A landmark is any familiar object, sound, odor, temperature, or factual clue that is easily recognized and is always present in a permanent location. Distinct features such as sills between rooms, carpeting, wood floors, paneled versus plaster walls, built-in cupboards or hallways between rooms can provide recognizable, permanent and unique landmarks within your home.

A clue may be something heard, touched, smelled or seen that gives people information about where they are. Environmental clues, such as the sound of the toilet flushing, traffic noise common to one side of the house, distinctive temperature changes between rooms, all provide your baby with information he can use to help determine where he is, where he wants to go, and how to get there.

Throughout the day, you can reinforce the idea of landmarks and clues by describing them as your baby encounters them. For example, "I hear the key in the front door. Daddy's home." Or, "You're in the hallway. The floor feels cold and hard."