Tactile Quilts for Blind Babies
Tactile quilts were one of my favorite gifts to bring to families of newly diagnosed blind infants; first because there is something warm and comforting inherent in a quilt; they were all hand made and a true gift of the heart; and because they did so much for an infant with vision loss in terms of development.
Most people don’t know that blind infants tend to be tactilely defensive. Even though they must learn to use their hands well to explore their world (learning Braille etc.), these babies tend to be texture resistant.
A tactile quilt is a block quilt made of many different kinds of fabric of all different textures: corduroy, satin, velvet, fur, metallic, etc. Placing a baby on a quilt, or swaddling them in one and then softly introducing the textures is a great way to break down some of that resistance. When you start early–when they are just infants–it really moves things along in terms of development down the road.
Sometimes, when kids are older, we would sew buttons, bells, toys and other objects to the quilts, but I’m always nervous about the choking factor.
In the olden days, when I worked for Blind Babies Foundation the first time, we had a group of ladies in the SF area who made quilts and put thing like crunchy Mylar inside the squares. It added a wonderful texture and sound, but made it hard to keep them clean because you couldn’t wash them. The Heart of California Quilters in Madera made me some great quilts when I was with BBF at Children’s Hospital.
Tactile quilts would be welcomed by any group around the country or the world working with blind and visually impaired infants. This would include both school districts and private agencies.
Biography of Liz Hosmer, President 2005-06
Rotary Club of Ceres, CA. USA
Liz Hosmer has been working with people with visual impairments and blindness for 29 years. Her post-graduate work in the Education of the Visually Impaired was done at California State University San Francisco.
Liz began her career as a music teacher at Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind, continued her training as a teacher of the visually impaired, and following graduate school went to work as a Home Counselor for the Blind Babies Foundation of San Francisco. She was a consultant to Merced County Schools’ Infant Program for their Visually Impaired children, and most recently worked as the Community Development Manager for the Blind Babies Foundation Central Valley Office.
A strong believer that ‘attitude is everything’ and that blindness is a challenge and not a tragedy, Liz recognizes that blind children with healthy self esteems and excellent independence skills are most likely to be successful in their lives. In most cases, those successful children have parents who have a positive outlook and encourage their children to explore, take risks and live their lives fully.
During two terms of employment with the Blind Babies Foundation of San Francisco, CA, Liz worked extensively with blind and visually impaired infants and preschoolers and their families to help babies get off to a good start developmentally. A large part of her work involved helping parents come to terms with the grief and loss involved with having a child born with a disability, encouraging them to set a good example for their children, and empowering them through education and knowledge, to become advocates for their child.