Children love toys of every shape and size, there’s no doubt about it. But not all children are alike and not all kids like the same things. When buying a gift for any child, it’s important to consider if the child will enjoy the gift. The same holds true when buying a gift for a blind or visually impaired child. Fortunately, there is an amazing array of toys that have been specially designed or modified for sight challenged children so that they are able to enjoy many of the same toys as those who were blessed with good vision. There are also many popular toys that both blind and sighted children enjoy.
Check out these 10 great toys for visually impaired or blind children:
- Let’s Rock Elmo: First off, who doesn't love Elmo! Let’s Rock Elmo is an interactive toy that sings and plays music. The toy comes with various instruments that Elmo and the children can play together. Let’s Rock Elmo does not have to be purchased through a specialty store and can be purchased at most large retailers. Make sure to install the batteries before you give the toy to the child so that they can start playing with it immediately.
- Braille Learning Doll: The Braille Learning Doll is a specialty doll that is available through several different vendors, although it is very hard to find in the UK. There are 6 buttons on the stomach of the doll which allows the child to make all braille letters. This is an educational gift that will help the child learn Braille.
- Board games: A company called Maxi Aids offers a large line of standard board games that have been modified to work for visually impaired or blind children. Some of the games include Checkers games that have high contrast colour pieces, Scrabble games that have large print tiles and boards, and Monopoly that comes in a large print edition. Since both sight and blind people can play these games, it can help foster inclusion.
- Bop It/Bop It XT: Bop It is a fantastic game that a child can play alone or with friends. The Bop It gives verbal commands that tell you to bop it, twist it, pull it and shake it. Once the child knows where the different parts of the game are they should be able to play by listening to the verbal cues. There are many different games within the Bop It toy and there are different levels of play as well. This is a great game for the whole family.
- Dolls: If you buy a doll, make sure that it plays to more than one sense. There are dolls that talk and play music that a blind child may enjoy. Dolls with texture can be great for visually impaired children too. Look for clothes that have patches or embroidery on them so that the child can tell the difference between her dolls and doll accessories.
- Stuffed animals: Everyone loves a nice soft stuffed animal to hug, but to make this toy even better for a sight challenged child you may want it to engage more senses. Choosing different types of stuffed toys, like ones stuffed with beans, crinkly paper and batting can help engage additional senses. The texture of the animal is important too. Maybe it’s a lion and it has a long haired fuzzy mane, soft fur on the back, and a long tail. All of those things will make the toy more fun for a sight challenged child.
- Braille games: Maxi-Aids also makes card games like Uno, Phase 10 and Dominos that all come equipped with Braille cards. While the child can often feel how many dots are on a domino they can’t tell what color it is without some help from the Braille dots.
- Audio Dart Master: This dart game has a textured board that the blind or visually impaired child can feel prior to play. The rest of the game is played by audio commands. The board calls out the player’s name and score, and will even give off a signal to help a sight challenged player aim for the bulls-eye. It’s available at audiodartmaster.com.
- Wikkistix: This is a very useful gift because it’s a toy, a craft, and is useful for marking things for sight challenged kids. Wikkistix are sticky string-like sticks that come in various colours and can be bent and wound around anything. Kids can make creatures to play with or create greeting cards. The Wikkistix can even be used to teach shapes and to label things like a keyboard. Although available from their USA based website, Wikkistix can also be found in most large UK retailers such as Argos.
- Rib-it-Ball: Someone was really thinking when they created the Rib-it-Ball. The ball has sections of bright colours so it’s easier to see. The ribs stick out so that it’s easy to catch and the ribs crinkle like paper so it’s easy to hear when it’s being thrown to you. This ball will help with muscle control and hand/eye coordination - also available on Amazon.
One of the most important things you can do when picking a gift is to find out what the child enjoys. Keep these toys in mind the next time you are on the hunt for the best gift for a blind or visually impaired child in your life.