- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Toys for Blind & Disabled Children - Kid's Tactile, Plush, and Sound-Making Toys
Shopping for a Disabled Child
There are a number of toys specially manufactured for blind and visually impaired children today, which feature bright colours, sounds, and tactile surfaces. The only thing is, these toys are usually available exclusively through magazines and websites. Why pay extra for packaging and shipping, or spend a week waiting for the product to arrive, when store-bought dolls and games are just as suitable?
The toys, games, stuffed animals, etc mentioned in this hub are all completely safe and appropriate for such children, and are all available in your local toy store.
Types of Suitable Toys
So, let's pretend your little girl or boy just got an invitation to "Mark's" birthday party, and little Mark just happens to be blind. How do you know what sort of toy to buy for him once you reach the store?
Any toy that could be operated reasonably well without sight is a good choice.
If you are unsure about purchasing a toy for a child with low vision, try closing your eyes and handling the object. Can you make out what it is? What about its function - could you figure that out?
Here are some toys I've come across that most visually impaired kids would have no problem operating:
"Jinglin' Ball," from TMI Toymarketing intl inc
This large but light ball is transparent and contains a number of metal bells that jingle when the ball is in play. Because it is easy to catch and omits a noise, it is entirely appropriate for kids with a vision impairment.
"Wedgits Starter Set," from imagability incorporated
This set contains large, tactile blocks perfect for any youngster, but in particular those with low vision or learning disabilities. They can get creative with this free-play set and let their imaginations run wild.
This book and doll are distributed by The Jester & Pharley Fund - a non-profit organisation which raises money and assists ill and special-needs children. In the story, the jester wakes up one morning to find that laughter is missing from the kingdom, and sets out on a quest to find it. The jester doll has movable limbs and children can act out the scenarios as the tale is read to them.
"Dress-A-Pillar," from Edushape Ltd
This plush bug will help children learn to dress themselves. They can practise buckling, zipping, snapping, buttoning hooking, and lacing, and can then undo them all to access six mini pockets. It's a fun way to improve dexterity.
"Sensi-Sational Alphabet Book"
An interactive ABC picture book with a unique feature on every page. It incorporates all five senses, and includes visual stimuli, movement, smell, touch, and sound, as well as brail and sign language.
"Sensory Balls," from Edushape Ltd.
They're rollable, squeezable, throwable and kickable. Infants will have a ball playing with these sensory balls. Their surfaces are also bumpy, providing interesting textures for a baby to examine. There are four balls in each pack - red, yellow, blue and green.
"Hug-A-Bug," from Edushape Ltd
This toy has it all: It's a pillow that comes with detachable ladybugs that vibrate, light up, giggle and rattle. When not in use, the ladybugs can be re-attached to their flowers. There are plenty of textures for a baby to discover and explore on this toy.
"3In 1 Music Island," from ALEX Toys
This bath toy offers 3 instruments perched on a fish-shaped floating island. It includes a xylophone, drums, and octopus jingle shakers, as well as 2 mallets, music sheets and a music holder.
"Furreal Friends 'Smores' Pony," from Hasbro
(4 years +)
This cute pony has a moving head and ears, a tail that swishes from side to side, and a soft, brushable coat. Children can "feed" her a carrot and groom her with her own brush, both of which are included. She snorts, and will sniff any outstretched hands.
Hints & Tips to Help You
Of course, the above products are only examples of the toys on the market suitable for blind or visually impaired children. If you are still unsure about purchasing a toy for such a child, here is a handy checklist that may help you:
-Does it Make Noise?
Children with visual impairments will greatly benefit from the technology used in modern-day toys. If the toy produces a noise of any kind - even if the sound in question is the crackle or rustle of its fabric - then it's safe to assume it is appropriate.
-Is it Brightly and Contrastingly Coloured? Does it Emit Light?
Toys sporting vivid, clashing, primary colours or that light up during play are highly recommended for children with low vision, as they will encourage them to use their sight to it's full potential.
-Does it Have Different Interesting Surfaces and Textures?
Children love exploring switches, buttons and dials and discovering what their functions are. A toy that offers these will encourage a kid to use their hands to investigate, helping a blind child to develop their sense of touch. Similarly, a doll, ball or toy with flexible, tactile surfaces will offer him or her endless amusement.
-Does it Encourage Thinking and Creativity?
Any toy that requires problem-solving, such as puzzles, games that involve assembly, and building railroads are great for getting a child into the habit of considering any problems they might come up against. They help them to understand how many parts make up the whole. Toy numbers and letters marked with brail and phonics toys help a kid to learn through reading. Craft kits and art supplies inspire creativity, though make sure the kit you're choosing is suitable.
-Does it Encourage Exploration and Movement?
Riding, climbing, athletic and other action toys spark curiosity and engage a kid in movement and exploration. Hand puppets, rattles and musical toys are essential in the development of fine motor skills, and facilitate easy, graceful movement of the hands and arms, while still being fun for a youngster with poor eyesight.