How to Find Toys for Blind Children
Take a trip through any toy store and you will find row after row of toys designed for visual appeal to children. The toys are brightly colored or cute, but they do not offer much else in the way of sensory appeal. Where can you find toys that will appeal to a child who cannot see?
A few companies produce toys and games specifically made for visually impaired children. I will introduce these here.
In addition to toys specifically made for blind kids, there are a number of commercially available toys that are appealing to them right out of the box. I will spotlight those here also.
Finally, there are toys that can be made accessible to visually impaired children with a few easy adaptations, and I will also show you those.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but I plan to offer suggestions and ideas that may get you started on your quest to find appropriate and fun toys for blind and visually impaired kiddos.
Swing Sets for the Vestibular Stimulation Blind Children Need
Vestibular stimulation is important to the healthy development of a child's brain and central nervous system. Blind and visually impaired children often do not receive enough exercise or vestibular stimulation. Sighted children get this kind of stimulation by running, turning their heads to look at things and all the different kinds of movement that a sighted child does during the day. Kids who cannot see get a fraction of these movement experiences.
Swinging and playing on climbing equipment is a good way for blind youngsters to receive the stimulation that their brains need to develop optimally. Swinging is calming and helps the nervous system to organize itself. If your little one is anxious or high strung, fidgety, or has problems processing information, swinging may help.
Most visually impaired children can benefit from having daily opportunities to swing.
Swing sets can also facilitate social relationships by giving children activities they can do together.
Dog Guide and White Cane - For Your Child's Blind Dolls
This plush dog guide comes with a harness and white cane. Fits 16" dolls. This one appears to be a yellow lab. We have one that is a German shepherd. He is greatly popular with my daughter's visually impaired friends.
Click on the photo for more information or to purchase this dog guide.
Toys Every Blind Child Should Have - (or at least have access to on a regular basis)
- A swingset, with at least a swing and a sliding board.
- A variety of musical instruments including a piano or keyboard and drums.
- Playdough or modeling clay.
- Swimming pool or wading pool.
- A CD collection, in a variety of genres, and a CD player.
- A radio.
- A tape recorder and tapes, or a digital voice recorder.
If you live in a climate where swinging outdoors is not always feasible, consider making a place indoors for your child to swing. When my daughter was younger, we turned our basement family room into a sensory room. This was a great way for all of the children to play, get exercise and get their energy out during the cold winter months.
The Rainy Day Indoor Playground listed below is great, because you can remove the swing it comes with and replace it with various other devices, such as trapezes, rings, gliders or chairs to curl up in. If you have a doorway this will go in, I highly recommend this toy.
These toys are all fun for blind children and provide much-needed vestibular stimulation.
It is a myth to say that all blind children are musically gifted, but it is true that everyone can benefit from experiences with music education. Blind kids usually enjoy music, and exposure to music has been shown to develop the parts of the brain responsible for understanding mathematics.
Give your child the gift of music!
Playing with clay helps strengthen the muscles in the hands and fingers necessary to operate the brailler. Blind youngsters should have daily opportunities to play with clay in order to strengthen their hands and develop their fine motor coordination.
Sound Puzzles - Fine Motor Coordination and Auditory Discrimination
Blind children need to learn how to swim. This is a matter of physical safety, if someone falls into the water they need to have the skills to be safe.
Teaching a blind child to swim can be challenging. Never having seen anyone swim, the concept of stretching out horizontally on the surface of the water can be confusing and frightening.
My daughter learned to swim at the state school for the blind, even while she was still a student at our local public school. For more information about swimming lessons, contact the physical education department at a school for the blind near you.
If you cannot get a full-sized pool for your backyard, consider a wading pool for your child to splash in during the hot summer months.This helps your child develop comfort with being in the water, so that learning to swim is much less traumatic. Moving in water is an excellent sensory experience, as well as being good exercise. A swimming pool also facilitates social relationships if you can have friends over to swim.
Find a CD Player and Radio on eBay - A Favorite Toy for Blind Children
Having an accessible CD player and radio opens up the world of music to blind children. Many stereo systems can be challenging for younger blind children to understand. Look for a player that does not have an LED screen, and where the buttons and controls may be brailled to facilitate learning.
Some of Our Favorite Music
Expose your child to a variety of music. Aim for high quality music, and not only the commercial music marketed for children. Try to expose your child to a broad spectrum of musical genres.
Audio Books for Blind Children
Audio books can be a wonderful choice for blind children. Listening to recorded books develops listening skills which is a crucial life skills for visually impaired people.
To develop reading ability, pair an audio book with a braille copy of the same book so the child can follow along.
Ball Pits Are Great Fun for Blind Children
A ball pit is a fun toy for blind children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Many blind children continue to enjoy the ball pit during private moments well into their teens, if given the opportunity; especially if they can listen to music, books or watch television while relaxing there.
It is easy to put a ball pit in your home for your blind child. For many years we had a wading pool in our basement filled with several hundred balls of red, green, blue, orange and yellow. My daughter would crawl into it and luxuriate for hours. She found it a relaxing and calming activity.
Sighted children would come to visit and the ball pit would make them wild. They would drag the mini-trampoline over beside it and use it to spring into the ball pit. An occupational therapist suggested it might be the colors on the balls that was causing the sighted children to become over-stimulated. If you have sighted children you might want to stick with only blue balls for this reason.
A wading pool can be purchased cheaply, especially at the end of the summer. You will need several packages of balls. One hundred balls sounds like a lot, until you pour them into your pool. The ball pit is not fun without enough balls, so get more than you think you will need.
Blind Children Often Love Therapy Balls
Another physical toy that blind children often love is a therapy ball. The children at school fought all year over the one ball in the dorm, so the Parent, Student, Staff Organization had to buy some extras for next year. The dorm parents said the children like to sit or lounge on them while watching television.
Many blind children have low muscle tone in their trunks and the therapy balls are wonderful for building that up. Core strength is especially important to blind children when it comes to using their braillers, so while they think they are having fun and relaxing, you are actually sneaking in something that is not only fun for them but good for them!
A therapy ball can also help with focus and concentration, if the child sits on one while doing homework. For this situation you want to make sure you have one of the appropriate size. Trying to sit on a ball that is too large could result in injury.
The therapy balls are also fun for children of all ages. A parent can use them with a baby or toddler. Older children and teens can use them independently.
Here is a fun therapy ball that will help a child with balance. This ball comes in different colors and sizes.
My children had a lot of fun with these hopping balls for several years. Give your child a safe place to hop and let her go at it! It's great for core strength, coordination, vestibular stimulation and general fun and silliness!
A Portable Game for One
Both blind and sighted kids will enjoy this tactile puzzle that can fit into their pocket and requires no batteries!
This is great for car trips, bus trips or waiting rooms.
Click on the photo for more information!
Accessible Toys and Games for Blind Children and Teens - American Printing House for the Blind
American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has a number of accessible games for blind children and teenagers. As they note on their website, blind children do not pick up recreational and leisure skills through observation and modeling. These skills must be taught. The games from APH are on the expensive side, but if you are in the United States you may be able to borrow them from your state materials center.
- American Printing House for the Blind
Toys and games made especially for blind children and teenagers from APH.
Talk to almost any parent of a blind child school age or older, and you are sure to hear about the Bop It! This is an electronic game that gives instructions the player must follow. As long as the instructions are followed, the game continues. When the player messes up, it is over. The challenge is to get the game to go on for a long period of time.
This is a game the students at our school enjoy playing alone as well as with other kids. The Bop It! comes in several varieties, and it can be fun to collect them. If your child has one he enjoys, he might like another version of this game as well.
Buy a Bop It
Accessible MP3 Player
My daughter loves her little Zen Stone. This MP3 player was recommended to me by blind adults. Unlike most MP3 players, the Zen Stone does not rely upon an LED screen. A blind child can easily work all of the controls by touch.
Another nice feature of the Zen Stone is that it has an internal speaker. If your child does not like ear buds because they interfere with hearing environmental sound cues, they can enjoy their music using the speaker. This is also better for your youngster's hearing.
Many students at the Kentucky School for the Blind have received these MP3's and enjoy using them. They hold 500 songs or several audio books.
Toys for Young Blind Children - Blind Babies and Toddlers
Blind babies and toddlers can make good use of many of the same developmental toys that appeal to sighted children. Some are particularly useful to children who are blind, because they help to address specific developmental challenges that blind children often have.
One way to tell if a toy will be appropriate for a blind baby is to close your eyes and interact with the toy. If it is still interesting when you are not looking at it, it will probably be fun for your child.
More Toys for Blind Babies and Toddlers
These are the same magnetic alphabet letters you remember from your own childhood, but now they have a braille cell included! Learning the shapes of print letters has many practical real-life applications. Recently my teenage daughter, who is totally blind, read a print sign in a public building. The sign had raised letters and no braille.
It is also helpful when describing a route or the layout of a building to a blind person. Curvy streets may be shaped like a print letter S, U or J. Buildings may be laid out in the shape of an L, E, H or T. Playing with these letters in childhood can be useful in building these concepts.
Click on the picture for more information, or to purchase, these fun and educational magnetic letters!
Braille Toys on eBay
Over the years I have been able to find a lot of braille and other equipment for sale on eBay. This can be a good source, but be sure to ask about the condition of the braille. Sometimes it has been flattened, and the seller might not be knowledgeable. I have found it is good to send an email asking where they acquired the item and asking them to check the condition of the braille to be sure it is still nicely raised.
More Information - Guide to Toys 2008 -- American Foundation for the Blind
- AFB Guide to Toys 2008
Every day, parents ask professionals for advice on buying toys for their children. Often, shoppers are wary of buying toys for special needs children. However, selecting a toy for any child begins with two steps: first, learning what the child is int
Does your visually impaired child have a favorite toy that you would like to recommend to others? List it here, or leave some feedback! Thanks!
What toys does your blind child enjoy?
thatelfguy on January 23, 2014:
Hey! My blind daughter LOVES her Cuddleuppet! A Cuddleuppet is a combination blanket / puppet, and it's wonderfully soft and snuggly. Check out Cuddleuppets at www.handi-dandi-crafts.com.
QualityKidsToys on November 13, 2013:
Both the musical and the full body 'swinging' toys listed above no doubt will stimulate the senses and be good choices. Thanks for providing information on this niche of kids toys.
norma-holt on August 31, 2013:
Its heartbreaking to see what blind children have to go through. Anything that helps them enjoy their childhood is a big plus and this is a great lens on a wonderful subject. Well done.
SBPI Inc on July 23, 2013:
Great lens and helpful to those both in need and those who take blessings for granted. You have wonderfully expressed your love of life to the fullest potential.
writerkath on March 24, 2013:
Wow... THIS is an absolutely fantastic resource. Even though my eyesight is correctible, I worried a lot as a kid that I was going to be blind because my nearsightedness increased at a very rapid rate. You put a lot of thought into this, and I am really hoping that a lot of parents and teachers find this page. I'd give you a hundred blessings if I could! :)
GetPregnantFAQ LM on March 22, 2013:
Wonderful. And great info on vestibular stimulation.
john9229 on February 14, 2013:
Thanks for sharing toys for blind children. Nice Lens!
SteveKaye on January 26, 2013:
Wonderful ideas. These make great toys for everyone, even adults.
GabrielaFargasch on January 25, 2013:
Wow! Beautiful toys for blind children you have here! God bless these precious children! :)
jseven lm on January 24, 2013:
Wonderful lens and heartwarming! Blessed too!
TheGardenGuys on January 23, 2013:
What a great idea for a lens. Well done :)
Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on January 22, 2013:
I do not have a blind child, but was a teacher at a school for blind children at one time. You've created a wonderful collection of best toys for blind children here.
TACTCI LM on January 20, 2013:
I liked your comment below advising against blindfolding sighted children as a way to teach them to appreciate what they have, or understand blind children. Takes years to get good at anything, and being born blind cannot be understood in a day or many weeks of temporary blindness, because you know it's going to change. Thanks for sharing!
thegrayrabbit on January 14, 2013:
Reading this and thinking about who this lens is for has reminded me how thankful I am that my children all have their sight and I am thankful that you are here to help with ideas for those that are visually impaired. Great lens!!
Frischy (author) from Kentucky, USA on January 12, 2013:
@MadameJoy: Most experts on blind education feel this is not as helpful as it would seem on the surface. Blind children and adults spend many years learning skills that enable them to function in a sighted world. Their experience is nothing like what a sighted person experiences when blindfolded. Putting a blindfold on a sighted child can be dangerous, because that child does not have the training to navigate safely without vision. Most sighted people experience this kind of artificial blindness as frightening and confusing, but blind people do not experience life this way. I would not want anyone to put their child through this experience without specialized training.
Alrady on January 09, 2013:
@MadameJoy: MadameJoy When my youngest was in 7th grade she would spend days as Helen Keller. The movie and the book stirred her soul. :) You are 100% spot on.
Alrady on January 09, 2013:
Great selection. I love the idea of indoor swings and SIT N SPIN is altime favorite. I can see how the list you have would stimulate the mind and the senses for both the non-blind and the blind kids.
MadameJoy on January 03, 2013:
I wonder if every child shouldn't spend a day "blind" to see what it's like, to gain compassion and a greater appreciation for the other senses. Can you imagine if we started educating our kids in such an experiential way? Thanks for posting this lens.
Wendy Leanne from Texas on January 02, 2013:
Modeling clay is a fabulous idea, as are all of your suggestions here.
anonymous on December 30, 2012:
What a wonderful Lens. Thank you for sharing such information. I don't have blind children and havent ever been around them but if I ever have to baby a child with sight imparment this will have helped as they also deserve wonderful childhoods much love and purple star is well deserved.
Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on December 26, 2012:
Wonderful suggestions for children with sight impairments. Thanks for sharing your expert knowledge here at Squidoo!
chas65 on December 18, 2012:
Having never been around blind children, but being a former teacher, I found the information quite informative. I would have thought about music because of all of the blind musicians, but not aware of swinging and other physical activities. Even how sighted children are constantly looking around at their environment.
jonathanwm on December 12, 2012:
Love your len. Your recommendation really helps the blind children. Keep on
maryseena on December 02, 2012:
I had some friends in college who were blind. They didn't have any special toys to play with, but they had learned to handle their own grooming activities amazingly well. They could wash their clothes and fold them, make beds and even stitch. One thing they demanded of me was to treat them as I would treat any other person.
victoriahaneveer on November 12, 2012:
I don't have a blind child but there are blind people in my family and it's not so easy to buy for them. Of course they can't see colors but they can still enjoy shapes, textures, anything they can listen to or whatever just like the rest of us. This lens is also a great resource for anyone shopping for a blind child. People who aren't experienced with blind people would find it very hard to buy something else I should imagine.
dunn22 on November 10, 2012:
Thanks for this very informative lens. Great thought and work was put into this, I think people will really benefit from this. Thanks
Aumlanka on November 08, 2012:
I don't have any blind children but this is great information for anyone to know. More understand of someone else's world is a great thing and if I ever have a blind child come into my life this might help me better interact with them.
anonymous on September 29, 2012:
You can also find lots of suggestions on SensorySun.com. I am the mother of a blind 7 year old little girl and publish a blog about my life. You can find lots of toy reviews and other info on raising and teaching blind children there. Hope you find it beneficial!
What_to_Know on September 20, 2012:
anything with great textures oogiee are a type of water bead it's great!
VicPalombo on September 16, 2012:
Great lens, very interesting!
Paul from Liverpool, England on August 10, 2012:
Excellent info - Blessed
anonymous on July 29, 2012:
I don't have a blind child but I thin