The “Light Of Life” Blind Children’s Center offers today various center-based and home-based activities which help the parents learn methods and techniques of raising their visually impaired kids and the children acquire necessary skills and build their independence.
Training Programs. Based on various materials developed by the National Federation Of The Blind (NFB) and other US and European organizations working with blind children, the LOL Center has developed special training programs adapted to the cultural and social realities of the countries of the former USSR. The lesson plans focus on the main aspects of raising and educating blind children — developing mobility and motor skills; teaching orientation; eating skills; speech; memory and mental development; socialization; etc. The approach that these programs offer differs dramatically from the usual practices used by local institutions and, although well known and widely used in western countries, is considered unique in Ukraine.
The LOL Center's specialist regularly visits blind children at their homes (usually two times a week) and carries out individual training sessions that flexibly meet the specific needs and age of each child. Today, because we have only one prepared specialist capable of conducting this kind of training, we can reach only the blind children living in Kiev city. We work most actively with 17 children aged from 0.5 to 6 years. The training sessions have twofold purposes — to actually help the children in their development and to teach their parents how to supportively raise their children. They all include homework assignments and extra training to be carried out by the parents themselves.
Parents’ Support Groups. Two times a month we organize meetings with parents (mostly mothers) of the blind children we actively work with at the LOL Center. At the meetings we usually present a prepared topic of common interest, have an exchange of opinions, Q&A session, and discuss the problems parents had during the past month. Parents living in regions outside of Kyiv sometimes attend these meetings, but more often they prefer to just visit Alex and Oksana to share their news, discuss their problems, and get LOL updates.
Publishing Activities. Today the LOL Center has all the facilities necessary for producing the full cycle of prepress operations for the materials it publishes. Since the Fall of 2001, the LOL Center translated, culturally adopted, and published 13 manuals describing various aspects of raising blind children (e.g., orientation and mobility, eating, communication skills, and socialization) with an overall volume of about 260 pages. All published materials are sent free of charge to the parents we work with at the LOL Center.
Database of Blind Children. The LOL Center created a database of blind children between 0 and 6 (the ages we are most interested in). We think this list is far from exhaustive. It is very difficult to find these children, because sometimes there is no direct information on them; and, even if we can locate them, their parents are not always cooperative. Many of them (especially at the very beginning) are totally focused on a surgical solution. They do not want to even hear about any counseling or special training, when they still have some faint hope that "everything is going to be fixed". Due to the certain reasons, parents often are not anxious to acquire any special skills and knowledge in raising blind children. They are just focused on meeting the physical needs of their child and set aside all other aspects of their parenthood. Today the LOL Center works with 34 families who have blind children (33 are in Ukraine, 1 in Belarus).
Download the 2001-2004 Progress Report (PDF, 250kB)