The Tactual Realm
Toddler arts and crafts that are too narrowly defined as only including drawings and the occasional cut and paste crafts are impractical for young, visually impaired children. Jill Brody, M.A. OTR from the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles explains that the majority of toys currently on the market are heavily geared to have a visual appeal. It is obvious that this also refers to boxed-up toddler art activities.
This requires a reworking of the understanding of art activities. Perhaps the easiest way of including early crafts in an arsenal of toddler activities, is to not simply draw a house, but instead, make a house. Lego blocks are the perfect tool for creating early sculptures that better allow the child who is blind to explore the formation of lines, shapes, and their interconnectivity.
Remember that arts and crafts are usually nothing more than a collection of colors and shapes, and young children revel in the finished display. The same may be done with interconnecting blocks or game pieces that are combined to create interesting shapes. Instead of seeing the artwork with their eyes, toddlers feel it with their hands.
Taking art out of the visual realm and placing it into the tactual realm also necessitates a refocusing on the art appeal that matters to a blind child. Color is decidedly unimportant while temporal exploration is of heightened significance. A sculpture made of Lego blocks or anything else that interconnects has the power to tell its very own story in a logical sequence, making it the perfect inclusive art activity.