Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Celebrating Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month and, according to their website, it is "a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information."  For many of the students we teach, it can be difficult to make the information accessible, either because it is not in a format that is accessible, or because the information itself is difficult to grasp.  This blog post includes suggestions for adapting literacy activities related to health, resources for teaching health literacy topics to students who are blind or visually impaired, including those who are deafblind or who have additional disabilities.


Suggested Health Literacy Activities for Students Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Who Have Additional Disabilities


Wellness Program for Youth Who Are Deafblind

Individual checklist


In this activity by Susan DeCaluwe, staff adapted a typed list of exercises using line drawings and large print for teenage students who are deafblind.  As a result of these adaptations, students went from depending upon staff to direct each step of each activity to being able to plan and monitor their own activities, moving through the sequence of exercises independently.  Staff reported that students became proud of their achievements, and much more enthusiastic participants in their physical education classes.



Touch, Taste, and Smell

Student places an orange in a food pyramid


Frank Mead, a teacher in the Secondary program at Perkins, developed a hands-on way for his students to learn about nutrition.  Using a tangible pyramid, students learn to place real food items in a food pyramid.  Read more in this article from the Lantern. (This text is no longer available online.)




Blood Flow Through the Heart

Tactile illustration of blood flow



This activity from Sarah Hughes offers an opportunity for students who are blind or visually impaired to study the chambers, valves and blood flow through the heart with a hands-on, interactive method.



Human Body Regulation

This lesson is designed to teach students about the process of self-regulation in the human body and how we maintain a stable internal environment despite changes in the external environment.  It includes information about how the human body regulates temperature and how a fever fights infection.


Sexuality Education

Introduction to Sexuality Education for Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind and Significantly Developmentally Delayed

This 126-page book by Kate Moss and Robbie Blaha of Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired includes an entire chapter on Sexual Health Care.  This chapter is available on the TSBVI website and the entire book is available online free of charge through DB-Link (National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness).

Addressing Issues of Sexuality with Students who are Visually Impaired

In this webcast from Perkins, Jeff Migliozzi, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, talks about the importance of sexuality education for individuals with vision impairments including those with additional disabilities. Jeff emphasizes the need to specifically teach many of the concepts related to sexuality education that sighted children learn incidentally as they observe the world around them. He talks about instructional strategies for parents and educators when providing instruction and information on this topic.

Issues in Social Skills & Sex Education

In this webcast, Tom Miller talks about Social Skills and Sex Education for Children and Youth who have sensory impairments.   The chapters in this webcast include: 1. Introduction, 2. The Early Development of Social Skills, 3. Modeling Behavior for Children Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Deafblind, 4. The Importance of Development of a Sexual Identity, 5. Sexuality and Social Development, 6. Teaching Self-Protection, 7. Challenges.

The Forgotten Curriculum: Social Skills and Sex Education for all Children with Visual Impairments/Deafblindness
This powerpoint presentation by Tom Miller (Discover Conference, 2009) provides an introduction to the importance of sex education for students who are blind or deafblind.  It also identifies key elements in a curriculum from infancy through adulthood.



Health Literacy Month

Screenshot of Pinterest page


Explore these resources on our Pinterest page to get ideas about healthy literacy for people who are blind or visually impaired.




Product Tips from Accessible Science

This includes suggestions for talking thermometers and talking scales, which can be used in health education lessons.


Vision and Blindness

This section of Perkins Scout offers a range of information on the anatomy of vision and eye health.


Helen Osborne


In Other Words...When Vision Is an Issue. . . Communicating With Patients Who Are Visually Impaired

Helen Osborne, MEd, OTR/L offers tips to health care workers providing care to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.


health literacy collage



Health Literacy Month

Posted by Helen Osborne

Posted on October 22, 2012
Updated on: January 25, 2018

Previous comments for Celebrating Health Literacy Month

Helen Osborne commented on October 23, 2012

Thank you so much for this blog post in honor of Health Literacy Month. You offer a lot of important activities and resources. Indeed, you are a Health Literacy Hero!