For more than 30 years, The Hadley School for the Blind, the largest distance education school for people who are blind and visually impaired worldwide, has offered a Family Education Program (FE). English-speaking people throughout the world are eligible to enroll at no charge, if they are a parent or grandparent of a blind or severely visually impaired child or are a spouse, adult daughter or son, or adult sibling of a blind or severely visually impaired adult. FE Courses are available in a variety of media, including online. Hadley’s FE Program serves nearly 700 students annually.
FE courses fit into several categories: Early Childhood and School Age Children, Braille instruction, Eye Courses, Independent Living and Business and Careers. Here are a few of the most popular FE courses:
- Braille and Your Baby or Toddler provides tools and information needed to prepare a child to read braille. These include experiences and activities that promote the development of oral language, concepts, and motor skills. The course also introduces the braille alphabet and numbers for sighted readers, and discusses the creation of a braille-rich environment.
- Learning Through Play offers suggestions that parents and caregivers can use to teach children about themselves and the world around them. Play is essential to a child’s growth and development. Through play, children acquire confidence and become more independent. The right toy can help a child reach developmental milestones. This course is primarily for loved ones of children ages 0-5 years old.
- Early Independence presents information on orientation and mobility, daily living skills and social skills, all of which enable you to create a home environment that fosters the skills your child needs to become independent. This course is recommended if your blind or visually impaired child is developmentally 3 to 6 years old.
- How to Be Your Child’s Advocate discusses parents’ rights and the laws pertaining to special education in the United States. It presents advocacy strategies to help you ensure that your child receives a free, appropriate public education. Photos and insightful comments from experienced parents enhance the course.
Family members of children who are blind or visually impaired can learn more by enrolling in an FE course of interest. Hadley offers year-round open enrollment—there is no waiting for the next semester to apply.