Category Archives: Visual impairments

Adapting MGOL Programs for Children with Visual Impairments


Julie Ranelli, Children’s Librarian from Queen Anne’s County Free Library in Stevensville, MD just sent in the following question:

I’ve had a blind boy at MGOL for the past two weeks. I have used as many of the adaptations from the Library for the Blind’s training as I could. However, I don’t have birds, so I gave the boy two feathers to hold.

I feel like we do a lot of work with animals that he can’t see. He does enjoy the animal sounds. Would you recommend that I find some small, plush or plastic, animal toys that he could touch while we use puppets or flannel animals?

Any other items that you might recommend that I keep in a special box for him? (I know that I cannot afford extra materials for 30 children at a time.)

This boy responds very well to the program; there is already so much that’s auditory or based on the caregiver’s touch.

Below are  a few of the adaptations that can be made:

  • If the boy has low vision, be sure to use high contrast colors when making felt pieces or when placing them against the background of the flannel board.
  • If you have Audubon birds (, hand them out during “Two little dickbirds” so he can actually feel the birds and hear the sound they make if he squeezes them for “Two Little Dickey Birds.”
  • During the welcoming comments, add a sentence inviting anyone who needs to sit close to flannel board to move nearer.
  • Describe what you are about to do instead of just relying on everyone paying attention visually. This can be hard since we are used to NOT describing the activities in order to encourage our audience to pay attention and respond to what they see without directions. Also, it requires practice to figure out exactly how to describe a fingerplay. For instance, saying, “Place your hands like this,” won’t work.   It is important to be very specific while using as little words as possible.
  • Try to find some sensory representations for some of the rhymes, such a piece of furry cloth for Baa Baa Black sheep.


These are just a few suggestions. I have been privileged to work with both Deborah Margolis and Lori Guenthner (the former and current librarians at the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) in adapting and running MGOL programs for children of all abilities, and these are just some of the adaptations I have learned from them. I’m sure they have a lot to add so I will invite them to contribute to this thread as well.

In addition, I know there are some Websites that specifically discuss early childhood programming for children of all abilities. For instance, there is a wonderful ALSC blog by Tricia Bohanon Twarogowski about Programming for Children with Special Needs which can be accessed at:

I’m sure the MGOL community has more suggestions so I invite all of our readers to contribute to this thread!