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Graduation Season: Insights and Gift Ideas for Students Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

Students across the nation, and their families, are celebrating the completion of a level of schooling, whether it be the primary grades, high school, or higher education. Following are a few thoughts about high school graduation and looking ahead.

High School Graduation: A Time to Celebrate and Look Toward the Future

“What’s Next for High School Graduates with Blindness?” An article published by BrailleWorks offers an overview of options available, the importance of transition planning, and thoughts about the fact that it can take time to find “the right path.” For graduates with blindness or a visual impairment entering college, university, a technical program, or other form of higher education, it’s important to know that these institutions “must provide reasonable accommodations.” For those entering the workforce, employers must also provide such accommodations. Students pursuing employment are advised to research companies they may be interested in joining to check out how the potential employer aligns with their goals and values. Counselors, family, and friends can offer insights and may also help in providing contacts for jobs or career information. For additional suggestions and resources, read the BrailleWorks webpage covering What’s Next for High School Graduates with Blindness?

Preparing Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired for Success in College: A Webcast

This webcast highlights the “Five Pillars of Students Success” related to the needs of students with visual impairments and how they can thrive in college. Presenter Mary Alexander, the National Program Director for Learning Ally, speaks from her perspective as a parent of a college student who is visually impaired and as a professional in the field “about the importance of non-academic skills in a college setting.” The “five pillars” she refers to include:
– “Managing Your Professor” by using advocacy skills, assertiveness, and facilitating the development of empathy based on being able to speak about the student’s disability;
– “Becoming Part of the Community” by connecting with other students and finding networks on and off campus;
– “Leveraging the Disabilities Services Office (DSO)” by knowing your legal rights, such as those mandated through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and developing skills needed to manage available resources;
– “Learning Effectively” by being aware of how your visual acuity and field affect learning, converting materials and notes into an accessible format with a screen reader, notetaker, or other device(s); and
– “Making Technology Work for You” for the student by arriving on campus knowing their technology and having it available to use to take notes and study.
For additional details, and a link to the webcast video, visit the Perkins School for the Blind webpage on Preparing Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired for Success in College.

Graduation Cards and Gifts

At any level of schooling, graduation provides an opportunity to recognize the student who has completed this phase of their educational journey. Here are a few sources of accessible cards and gifts for the graduate:

The Braille Bookstore offers 12 graduation cards for purchase with various messages, such as “Reach for the Stars” and the “World is Waiting.” For details, visit their webpage featuring Braille Graduation Cards.

APH ConnectCenter showcases a number of gift suggestions, including Braille and large print board and card games, tech devices, tickets to concerts and other events, to name a few. Find out more on the APH ConnectCenter webpage covering Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Low Vision.

Etsy, an online marketplace for individual craftspeople, features a variety of braille graduation gifts. Examples include braille jewelry, key chains, puzzles, and more. Graduation cards are available as well. For additional details and gift offerings, visit their webpage on Braille Graduation.

For additional details and suggestions, read previous articles of this Bulletin on  Accessible Graduation Gift Ideas and from Graduation 2022.

Congratulations to the Class of 2024!