Monday, May 28, 2007

Resources for the Blind

I made up this page about six years ago and haven't touched it since. Some of it may be terribly out-of-date. I'm placing it here during our "construction" project over on

It's a great time to let me know about any updates or changes (or additions!) in the comments box...

I have noticed in my educational excursions around the Internet, that there isn't a lot of information (if any) for Catholic parents on educating a blind child at home. Although I have not taught a blind child myself, I have had some experience with the blind through a close relative who is blind and have received additional information and insight from my brother and sister-in-law who are very active in raising guide dogs for the blind. Many years ago my father was involved with the Library of Congress audio tape program for the blind.

Most Catholic homeschool parents have the luxury today of being very picky about their materials and companies they support in their homeschooling endeavors simply because there are so many options. This is not the case with materials for the blind, and so, I am including as many resources as I think will be helpful, even if they carry problematic materials as well. I believe it is much better to pick through materials from a secular correspondence school for the blind than be forced to send your child to a public institution.

If you are just looking into homeschooling a blind child (particularly one who is still young), I would encourage you to think creatively and in terms of looking for materials that are designed to be multisensory. At a young age, encourage them to develop their other senses (listen to music, read stories aloud, play games involving sounds and words, etc.) I have also successfully used the Math-U-See blocks to discuss Math concepts with my blind relative.

Although I have used a slate and stylus to write braille letters and cards (using a simple braille alphabet on a bookmark I was given) I have no experience teaching a child to read Braille. I'm sure this would be a real challenge and that the parents (or perhaps an enthusiastic older sibling or other relative) would have to learn along with their child. I know that some people, particularly those who lost their sight as adults (such as a blind student who graduated from Thomas Aquinas College), never learn Braille, but instead depend on audio tapes. (In the case of the blind student who graduated from Thomas Aquinas College - he was in the first graduating class - fellow students took turns reading the assignments onto audio cassette for him).

Catholic Materials for the Blind

As far as I know there is no such thing as a Catholic correspondence program or homeschool program for the blind. The following companies do provide some Catholic educational materials:

Xavier Society for the Blind
154 East 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010
(800) 637-9193 (toll-free)
(212) 473-7800
(212) 473-7801 Fax

Xavier provides Catholic Braille books at no charge (some you may keep, and some you will return later). They also offer some Catholic magazines in Braille. Lots of good material, but not all of their materials are recommended - choose carefully! Catalogs are available in Braille, large print or on audio cassette.

Ignatius Press
This major Catholic publisher has many materials available on audio tape - particularly in the clearance section of their website.

Regina Martyrum Productions
2941 S. Topeka Avenue #251
Topeka, KS 66611

Regina Martyrum is a Catholic company which produces theatrical productions on audio tapes in the fashion of old time radio shows - complete with a whole cast (in contrast to books on tape), music and sound effects. Their selection includes stories from the Bible, lives of the Saints, one of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries and a dramatization of Longfellow's Evangeline (A Tale of Acadia). Many of their titles are also available from Dumb Ox Press. You can order their tapes online from Catholic Shopper.

This offer is available to anyone interested (not limited to the blind):

The Saint Philomena Foundation (, has just released a children's audio book called King of the Golden City, on two full-length cassettes. Originally written by a nun and published decades ago, it's an enchanting fable that teaches children about Christ as our King. Order from the site and the cost is only $5.00 (free will donation) or order mail and receive it for free (donations accepted)

The Saint Philomena Foundation
157774 South LaGrange Road
Orland Park, IL 60462

Or online ordering:

Other Books on Tape:

Recorded Books, Inc.
270 Skipjack Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
1 (800) 638-1304
Unabridged books on audio cassette including many classics. (Probably lots of crummy stuff too - I haven't seen their catalog, but we have a lot of their books on tape at our local libary). They also have a rental-by-mail program.

Correspondence Schools for the Blind:

Hadley School for the Blind
700 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093-0299
1 (800) 323-4238

Hadley is a secular correspondence school for the blind. They offer courses in every subject (from basic Math and English, to foreign languages, business and computer classes and other classes that help blind people deal with everyday life). They also offer correspondence programs for parents of blind children to attain a 2nd grade level of Braille literacy. This might be helpful for parents attempting to teach Braille to their children, but I haven't seen the materials myself.

Educational Products for Blind Children:

abc Blocks with "carved-out" lower case letters and corresponding Braille cells and number blocks of a similar nature are available from Michael Olaf.

Miscellaneous Materials for the Blind:

American Foundation for the Blind
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

AFB offers a Consumer Products catalog with items such as: talking or Braille watches, Braille games such as Monopoly and Othello (can be played by non-Braille readers as well), Tactile maps, balls with a bell inside them, specially designed kitchen instruments and more.

The Howe Press of Perkins School for the Blind:
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02172
(617) 924-3490

Braille slates (devices to hold the thick braille paper with openings to punch the braille letters into the device with a "stylus"), Braillers (what amounts to a Braille typewriter), "Drawing Supplies" (special compass, jumbo tracing wheel, freehand drawing stylus, etc.), Braille measuring devices, playing cards and dominoes.

Guide Dogs:

Guide Dogs of America
13445 Glenoaks Boulevard
Sylmar, California 91342

For ages 16 and older, 28 day training program required - lots of details at their website. My sister-in-law highly recommends their program, even over larger and more well-known schools.

1 comment:

Margaret Mary Myers said...

I tried unsuccessfully to make the URLs for my blogs be LINKS. I guess I've spent more time learning Braille than html! LOL. Sorry to anyonewho has to cut and paste instead of click! Please come visit me anyway. :)