Talk to Me: A Language Guide for Parents of Blind Children
Linda Kekelis, Nancy Chernus-Mansfield
This brochure, published in 1984 for parents of blind infants and young children, offers suggestions for building the child's language and social skills through talking to the child and interacting in a variety of ways. The importance of talking to the young infant, even though he/she doesn't respond with eye contact, and of learning to recognize the infant's efforts at communication is stressed. Other suggestions include avoiding the over-stimulation of constant television or radio, describing family activities to the child, helping the child to explore his environment, including the child in family activities, sharing in the child's experience of the world, helping the child become aware of his/her feelings, and asking the child many questions.
Linda Kekelis, Nancy Chernus-Mansfield. Talk to Me: A Language Guide for Parents of Blind Children (1984). Blind Childrens Center: Los Angeles, CA.
Reading Level: Easy
Formats Available: Printed Material
Blind Childrens Center
4120 Marathon St.
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (800) 222-3566Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (323) 665-3828
Languages Available: English, Spanish
Intended User Audience:
This book is intended primarily for parents. The authors worked in Los Angeles at a center with a very multicultural student population.
The authors were employed at the Blind Childrens Center at the time this material was developed. They had extensive experience in working with children who are blind or visually impaired. Information was primarily obtained from parents, although it was also supplemented by information from teachers and from observing the students themselves.
This booklet has not undergone any formal evaluation process after it was published. Prior to its being published, the Blind Childrens Center distribute the booklets among parents and professionals in the community for scrutiny and feedback.
More than 800,000 copies of this booklet have been disseminated almost worldwide-throughout the United States, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The publisher has a list of 13,000 organizations throughout the world to which it distributes materials .
Masami Sakai and Jenna Weglarz - Graduate students in early childhood special education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
We recommend Talk to Me I and II (with the stated adaptations/cautions below) and feel these materials can be useful for parents and caregivers of children birth to 7 looking for strategies to support language development of their children with visual or communication impairments at home. We do stress that additional supportive materials as well as interventions from service providers should accompany the materials to insure that the concepts presented in Talk to Me 1 and II successfully affect long-term development of the child. We recommend the materials to parents or caregivers with average reading ability and those living in U.S. or Western mainstream cultures (since the techniques promote mainstream research on the value of early childhood education and its impact on child development).
Talk to Me I and II have several strengths. The photographs depict happy children of diverse ethnic and racial families. These photographs not only represent mothers closely interacting with their children, but also father figures. By including fathers, the authors convey an awareness of fathers' roles in children's development. The language used in the materials is supportive and encouraging to parents. The authors acknowledge the important role parents play in their children's development through the use of personal language (e.g., "You" know "your" child better than anyone else, number of ways "you" can do to help "your" child). The authors avoid the use of professional jargon, and the steps of the techniques are concise and easy to follow. The authors convey a sense of partnership with parents in the introduction of the materials (e.g., "it is important that families find their own ways to meet their child's needs," "we hope to alleviate unnecessary worry," "parents are not alone"). Offering the materials in Spanish also allows accessibility to a more diverse group of parents. As the main concerns presented in Talk to Me II (e.g., repetitions, questions, and pronouns) may be present in other disability categories such as autism, the material can be adapted to any child's needs from infants to primary school children, especially those with communication disorders (not only children with visual impairments/blindness).
With regard to limitations, the words "blind child" and "sighted child" are used throughout the material instead of using currently recommended person-first language. Some parents may object to this usage. We felt the material lacks direction regarding how to specifically use the information provided, and how or when to collaborate with professionals. With the exception of advice to seek out a professional if a parent is concerned about repetitious communication, the material does not provide techniques on collaboration. More information that emphasizes the supportive relationships between parents and service providers and encourages parents to seek assistance when necessary might have been beneficial.
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