As July marks the conclusion of yet another academic year, families are gearing up to bid farewell to textbooks and embrace the possibilities of summer. This vibrant season can be full of fun and adventure and it’s no different for families affected by sight loss.
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or there is a visually impaired child in your family, sight loss doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying the season. Here are some great ideas and activities for summer fun for everyone!
Soak up the Sun and Make a Splash
Sight loss need not be a barrier to regular summertime activities like picnics at the park, ice cream outings and playing in the water.
If you’re not able to be out and about, you can have just as much fun in the garden. Have a picnic on the patio and let the little ones get their wiggles out under the sprinklers. Let the younger kids enjoy splashing in the kiddy pool or fishing for items in a tub. For the older kids, set up targets for water balloons and make it more challenging by blindfolding the players.
Gear Up for Summer Sports
PE activities may be a challenge for children who are blind or visually impaired. Metro Blind Sports offer free membership to children and young people under 18. So, if you have a child in your family who is visually impaired, find out about events, activities and other athletic organisations on the Metro Blind Sports for juniors. Summer is the perfect time for kids to stay active and make new friends.
Take the competition indoors with accessible games.
There are many classic board games that have been adapted for blind and visually impaired players. For example, chess for low vision could include high contrast boards with raised squares and chess pieces with pegs that fit securely onto the board. This way, everything is tactile, and pieces can be felt without getting knocked over.
Other classic games that are readily accessible with large print, Braille and other tactile modifications include playing cards, Uno cards, dominos, Checkers, Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect Four, Monopoly, Bananagrams, Scrabble and Mancala.
With some creativity many other board games can be adapted. Bump dots and tactile/puff paint can be used to mark pieces or define spaces on a board. Black or brightly colored stickers can make other game elements more visible for low vision players. Adding large print or Braille labels can make other types of game cards accessible.
There are many other types of games to explore with kids. Put your thinking caps on for word games, spark the imagination with games where people take turns continuing a story, or sharpen listening skills with Sound Charades or Name that Tune. Older children might enjoy getting the whole family in a silly fill-in-the-blank game like Mad Libs and everyone can get guessing with 20 Questions.
Sometimes it’s about thinking out of the box. Use what you have around to make up something new, like a Blind Box Treasure Hunt. Fill up a box with random toys and items, blindfold all the players and call out random items to find. You can add a time limit or a ‘one hand only’ rule to make things more challenging.
If the kids in your family love playing video games and you’re interested in joining in on the fun this summer, check the menus for accessibility options like Narration, Enhance Listening/Sound Que Modes, Color Blind Mode, Other Color Filters, and High Contrasts Modes.
Compared to the number of video games out there, there’s only a limited selection designed for players with visual impairments. But with more people advocating, developers are beginning to incorporate accessibility into games.
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown, rated E (Everyone 10+) is one example of a game that is purely focused on an audio experience with the player, you, being a blind princess who relies on sounds as she goes on adventures, battle enemies and learn new skills.
Whip up Summertime Treats
Helping in the kitchen can be a fun activity for kids of all ages, especially when they’re getting messy making yummy treats.
Recipe books are accessible from the RNIB Library, and recipe cards can be read aloud with Text Recognition like the one on Pocket’s built-in video magnifier. If you use talking or low vision kitchen gadgets, teach the children how to use them. It’s the perfect opportunity to share with them how you navigate the world around you.
Making jelly in fun moulds, ice-pops in ice trays, and arranging different types of fruits into figures and flowers to make fruit platters are some ideas of easy summer treats you can enjoy with the whole family.
Get Creative Crafting
Art and creativity are for everyone regardless of what you can or can’t see. If you’re in the area, you might take the kids out to some of Henshaw’s arts and crafts events located in their Knaresborough Centre. They have something for everyone.
There are plenty of tactile arts and crafts that you and the kids can enjoy at home. Get a kit where you can make and bake erasers that they’ll use all year long. Mold amazing dough or clay creatures. Make mosaics with different materials including beans, pasta, pebbles, buttons, and pompoms. Paint beautiful masterpieces with tactile paint.
Perhaps you’re keen on a particular craft like knitting, crocheting, pottery, or woodworking. If there’s a spark of interest, a bit of patience from you will go a long way to getting the kids into some of the crafting hobbies you love.
Braille Art can be made with a Perkins Brailler. Older kids might enjoy following patterns to create wonderful tactile art.
Here are two links where you can learn more about Braille Art:
Binge on Audiobooks
One of the best things about summer breaks is being able to read what you like—no book reports required. What better way to spend time together than turning on the Bluetooth speakers and listening to great books together as a family.
With structured activities all throughout the school year, sometimes it’s just nice for little ones to have play time and for the grown-ups in the family to take a break and join in.
Sight is not required for getting invited to a ‘tea party’ or ‘blasting aliens’ from a cardboard box spaceship. Be an architect or an engineer with your kids with construction toys like Legos, magnetic building sets and blocks.
With Audio Descriptions, most movies are accessible today. So, get the popcorn popping, grab your favorite sweet treats, turn of the lights, and transform your living room into a comfy cinema for a movie night. It’s the perfect way to end an action-packed summer day.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
It’s not always about the activities—the best part of summer is being with your favorite people and making wonderful memories. So, whatever you do, don’t forget to cherish the moments. Happy Summer!
By Guenivir Kendrick