World Maps by APH Help Children Who Are Blind See the World

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

“Students Who Are Blind Are Seeing the World Through APH Materials ”

“This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me”

As the song, “This Land is Your Land”, states this land was made for you and me, but children without sight struggle to understand the concepts of land, bodies of water as well as other types of topography and with good reason. A sighted child can watch television, a DVD, look at pictures in a book or on a map and be able to understand spatial concepts, land and water formations when learning vocabulary terms.

However, children without sight are at times simply taught straight vocabulary words about the earth without any conceptual building, hands-on or real experiences. Educators and parents innocently deter students without sight when teaching children about rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains and hills. We just assume that if we say the word, the definition, and put it in a sentence, we have covered the skill.

Is it no wonder that some children with visual loss struggle with comprehending details about earth and its natural resources?

Thank goodness for APH’s Social Studies section that includes: History, Geography and Economics. APH recognizes that without hands-on, a child with no or limited vision will struggle with directions, spaces and time.

This school year I have had the pleasure of working with a new history teacher who is enthusiastic, energetic and includes my student who is blind in all activities. She has been concerned and asked many questions about how a difficult concept could be taught to someone who could not ‘see’ the images on her powerpoint presentations. Imagine her happiness when I showed up with a desk World Map, a Braille globe, an atlas and my favorite, the large colorful U. S. Puzzle Map. APH also offers a Braille state map collection that is embossed and printed for the four regions in the United States: Northeast Region, Southeast Region, Central and Western Region.

Students in upper elementary school or higher already recognize that pictures and symbols represent real objects, people and places. Nothing has helped general educators and children with a visual impairment more than the wonderful collection of hands-on learning about our great country.

My student placed his hands on the continents from APH’s “World at Your Fingers” one day and said, “Oh, I get it now!” The young history teacher began to have more confidence after this experience and realized that a student who was blind could learn as much as the others when adaptive materials are used.

Because of the American Printing House for the Blind, and an enthusiastic young teacher, my student without sight believes that ‘this land was also made for him’.


GinnyStar said…
I know the feeling, I have low vision, and even I have problems trying to see something, my own sight has weekend, over the last few years.

I sometime have a hard time trying to see, well this is going to helpful for those who so they can tell the whole picture.

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