Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

What is IT? Kit

Helps children develop real images related to descriptive terminology and words.

The exercises in the What is IT? Kit emphasize the need for the child to form real mental images in relation to labels at a very early age. In effect, a label is more than a word because it evokes an internalized mental association of various properties and functions.

Many bright young children who are blind copy the descriptive terminology of others, but have difficulty describing the "why" of the label independently. Teaching the young mind to listen to the word, and anticipate "motor knowledge" (organized physical input) that will help form associations, can make a difference. With an active introduction to details contributing to the whole, the child will gain the foundation for comparative thinking, leading to the ability to generalize and communicate independently.

Preschool Activities

  • Use the cards with real objects to introduce the properties of things in conjunction with their definers.
  • For future braille readers, early exposure to braille is as aluable as the indirect introduction to letters and words that future print readers get incidentally. Having the child hold the What is IT? card, and trace the braille, within the context of the word focus can become a natural experience. Note: exposure of the child to the abstract form of written words allows him to think about it, not necessarily to read it.

School Age Activities

  • Provide a "word for the day" and have the child write as many descriptors as possible. With practice, limit the time, to promote the ability to think quickly.
  • Itemize descriptors and see how many it takes for the child to come up with the word.
  • Have the child present a list of descriptors for others to guess the word; have teams.
  • Categorize labels, such as foods, clothes, forms of transportation, things in various stores, occupations, etc.
  • Orientation and Mobility:
    • Ask the child to verbally express observations along a route, beyond those provided by the teacher (smells, sounds, thermal changes).
    • Ask the child to describe changes such as stairs, inclines, obstacles, beyond just the label.
    • Go into a room and then have the child itemize things with at least one definer, and the location within the space, in relation to the door, and other objects.


  • 102 What is IT? Print/Braille Cards
  • Index card storage box
  • Instruction Book in Print and Braille

Recommended ages: 3 years and up.

What is IT? Kit
Catalog Number: 1-03535-00
Click this link to purchase the What Is It Kit from APH.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
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