When Kai was 10 and first diagnosed with degenerative sight loss, he was scared. He began to have trouble seeing at night and his first reaction was to build a nest on his bed out of blankets and pillows. One night as mom was tucking him into his nest, he said that he felt bad for all the kids around the world who do not have comfortable places to sleep. Mom had no idea how to tackle that issue on a global scale while also helping her son deal with sight loss, but after many conversations together: Kai’s Comforts was born. Kai decided to collect new, soft, highly tactile pillows and blankets from his community to deliver to his peers who are living at schools for the blind. At first, it started out as a great way for us to do something positive, and connect Kai to peers dealing with sight loss. His first collection was delivered to kids at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. A school for children who are blind and visually impaired about 3 hours from Kai’s mainstream school. The first delivery was a huge success the kids were thrilled to receive their comfort items, and Kai got to meet lots of kids who were “like him.”
Kai is 17 now, and he’s just completed his 4th delivery. This year, in addition to delivering comfort, he had a message to share: Comfort is important, but he now believes it’s even more important to push himself outside of his comfort zone. Continue reading “Legally Blind Teen Shares Comfort Items while Encouraging Peers to Step Outside Their Comfort Zones.”
by Kim Owens & Hilda Dunford (@OurBlindSide)
Many parents of children who are visually impaired or blind find it difficult to keep their children engaged in physical activities and sports. Hilda and I are often asked: How do you keep your child active and safe? Continue reading “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! How Do You Keep Your Blind/VI Child Active & Safe?”
This post was written by Kai Owens.
Hi, I’m Kai Owens. I am a 16-year-old athlete, drummer, and mainstream high school student. I’m also legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. I’ve done a lot of Orientation & Mobility training locally, and I’ve also traveled extensively in the US and Vancouver, BC. I use my mobility cane at all times and I’ve recently been approved for a guide dog. I’d like to share a few of my observations about when drivers and mobility canes intersect.
At some point, most sighted people have been driving and seen a blind person and panicked. Some of the encounters are full of mistakes that really do not make any sense. I’m going to walk you through a few common mistakes drivers make in hopes of raising awareness. Continue reading “When Drivers & Mobility Canes Intersect”
Signs. They are everywhere. Sometimes they alert us to danger, sometimes they send us on a detour. Our sign was created specifically to create a safe space for our blind son to traverse his high school parking lot filled with student drivers.
A couple of weeks ago in a Facebook forum for parents of blind kids, a parent asked how other people handle school drop off/pick up. I read several responses and decided to post a picture of our solution: a sign. Continue reading “Be Aware: Signs Ahead.”
Hi friends, This is my final post in a 3-part series about my family’s Special Education Formal Complaint and Mediation proceeding. If you are a new visitor to this blog, I’d recommend starting with the previous posts: Special Education Mediation Experience and Formal Complaint & Mediation Processes Explained. Continue reading “Preparing for Battle: Support & Organization”
As discussed in my previous post we filed a Formal Complaint against our school system. This post will give an overview of what I learned about the complaint and mediation processes.
In early September, I downloaded the “formal complaint form” from our state’s education website. The document was four pages and asked a series of questions about the issues, and how we believed they could be resolved. The Formal Complaint only covered issues that occurred within a 1-year time period. Near the bottom of the form, there was a question asking if we would be willing to mediate? I selected “yes” thinking that I wanted to do everything possible to come to a resolution for my son. I submitted the complaint along with 20 pages of detailed records outlining the issues along with two recommendations for resolution. Then I waited. Continue reading “Formal Complaint & Mediation Processes Explained”
It’s been 5 days since our 8-hour mediation proceeding with the school district. (Yes, 8 long, emotionally draining hours.) The mediation was in response to a formal complaint we filed in September. Our allegations were that the school was not providing a Free Appropriate Public Education and was not upholding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the areas of Accessibility and IEP Implementation.
I’m writing this article to assist other parents of blind children who are facing these issues. I hope to convey the process as we experienced it, as well as the immense emotional toll it took on our family. Continue reading “Special Education Mediation Experience”
In student advocacy, partnering with the IEP team is a key concept. However, some days it feels impossible to straddle the divide between my child’s accessibility needs and the school’s ability to provide timely, accessible materials. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I ask myself:
- What exactly is the issue?
- What does his team believe is the best answer?
- What does my child believe is necessary?
- Is “good enough” okay, or will this problem seriously impact his future?
Continue reading “The Advocacy Tightrope”