University of Edinburgh

Early Intervention - What do I do now?

Presented in June 2005

This Little Finger

Early literacy home resource pack for parents of children with visual impairment


  • Issues
  • Websites
  • Normal activities

Particular areas that I wanted to highlight:

  • lack of incidental learning
  • language linked to meaning
  • time and repetition
  • play experiences
  • exposure to books

The 3 sections of 'This Little Finger'

Consultations with parents and colleagues.


  • Producing the pack
  • Holding workshops for parents and professionals
  • Broadening the scope



This pack has been put together with the purpose of enabling parents to develop their young visually impaired child's understanding of early concepts, language and eventually books and symbols. Children with severe sight loss need help to develop concepts that the sighted child can pick up with relative ease, by watching and imitating others. Children with visual impairment need to find things out for themselves by joining and physically experiencing what the people around them are talking about. The environment needs to be brought within their reach.

In the pack we have outlined activities that you, the parent, and your child can do together as part of your everday routine. We explain the importance of these activities in helping your child to understand the world and build on her need to develop her use of all the senses, visual, auditory and tactile. We introduce some fun activities that you and your child can do together when going to the shops, going out for a walk or during a quiet afternoon in the house. The emphasis is on concrete experience and personal involvement. Without this, a child with visual impairment may pick up language, but often without fully comprehending its meaning. We suggest many activities that will help to avoid such difficulties.

Finally we introduce the different ways that reading can be made accessible to a child with visual impairment, either through large print or tactile methods. There are many activities that can be carried out at home that will give your child a firm grounding in the basics and a head start when it comes to entering school for the first time.

The pack is designed to be used in discussion with your home visiting teacher (HVT) or nursery staff. Pages may be freely photocopied, so that information can be used only as and when it becomes relevant to the individual family.

Whenever you see the frog symbol, we recommend that you discuss the topic which has been highlighted, with your HVT (or other knowledgeable person). The decision as to whether your child will eventually be a print reader or will use braille or moon is a very complex one. It will depend on the nature of your child's visual impairment and on his or her preferred learning style. Over time, teachers and other professionals will assess your child and in discussion with you, they will find the best, most comfortable method for your child to begin to learn to read. Certain children who have some residual vision, may still find that tactile reading methods are quicker and less of an effort than large print. Above all, it is not a decision that you will be expected to make on your own

Helping to make sense of the world

  • Incidental learning
  • Real life experiences
  • Everyday sounds, smells and features
  • Learning to get dressed
  • Helping around the house
  • Watching television
  • Objects of reference


  • Learning the purpose of objects
  • Showing preferences
  • Problem solving
  • Personal learning styles
  • Discovering what objects are for
  • Ideas for exploratory play
  • Developing use of hands and fingers
  • Self-expression
  • Books with good ideas
  • Moving from exploratory play to object use
  • Pretend play
  • Social play

Communication, language and literacy

  • Action songs and rhymes
  • Books to buy
  • Reading with your child
  • Preparing your child for reading
  • Developing the sense of touch
  • Developing listening skills
  • Developing visual skills
  • Using a cassette recorder
  • Making personal books
  • Principles of large print
  • What is braille?
  • Preparing your child for braille at school
  • Principles of learning braille at school
  • What is Moon?