Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Making Back to School Shopping Meaningful, Accessible and Fun

My son Liam, who is deafblind, will be starting first grade in a couple of weeks in a mainstream classroom. Last year, I bought all of Liam's supplies and labeled them myself.  This year I wanted Liam to be part of the process. And of course I wanted it to be a good learning experience as well.   It took a little preplanning on my part; here is what I came up with: 

scissors glue glue stick and crayons labels


Step 1:

Accessible Tactile School Supply List:

To be created sometime before the trip

A tactile school supply list will look different for every child and their own unique needs and levels.  I wanted Liam's to be simple with just a few items on our list (I picked 4 ).  I glued on an object symbol to represent the items we needed to buy along with the braille.  I also used "puffy paint" to draw horizontal lines to clearly separate the items on the list.  We will take the list with us to the store to follow together and buy the items we need.  
  • You could  think of a way to "cross" off items on the list, such as a tactile sticker to show that you already bought the item.  
  • You could  "velcro" the items onto the list you want to buy and then take them off once you purchase them. 
  • You could create the list together before you go shopping.  
  • Your list could use braille only.  
liam and mom with labelsliam with list
liam and scissors label

Step 2:

Create Labels:

Ahead of time (by yourself or with the help of your child) create labels for the items you are purchasing.  For example:  "glue" to stick on the glue bottle, "crayons" to stick on the crayon box, etc...  
Also, create "name" labels ahead of time to use to label your child's new supplies with their name.

liam and mom at storeStep 3:  

Introduce the List - Go Shopping!

Before you go to the store, introduce the list and read it over together.  Once at the store use the tactile list to begin searching for the items you need to purchase with your son/daughter!  This should be fun, allow your child to have as much choice as possible.  
liam at the store holding glue sticksliam at checkout

liam labeling

Step 4:  

Label! Label! Label!

As soon as you get home (or as soon as you can:), label all of the supplies together and load them up into their backpacks - ready to go!  
Other ways you can use a tactile list:
  • Grocery shopping list - The list can "evolve" as your child grows and learns.
  • Chore list
  • To-do list



back to school collage


Wondering about younger brother

Posted by sgrubb

Posted on August 17, 2015
Updated on: August 18, 2021

Previous comments for Making Back to School Shopping Meaningful, Accessible and Fun

Liamsmom commented on August 19, 2015

Brothers playing

It's a struggle I deal with every day, worrying about having a balance of spending enough time with each of them. They both do get very jealous of my time.  I worry about the two of them getting along. They fight a lot, however for instance like this picture I'm attaching at the eye doctor this morning they were getting along great and Finn was helping Liam play... Gave me hope lol. Finn is picking up on some braille and quite a few signs. 

My boys do have very sweet moments. For example when Finn went to the air show and Liam stayed with grandma and me, Finn was very worried about Liam not coming with him and that he would miss Liam. Another example, when we drop Liam off at school Finn will tell me that he will miss Liam.  But in all reality, I am always trying to think of ways to teach my boys to play together, to encourage them to work with each other. But isn't that true for any brother?

I also want to add that I really try hard not to split the boys up when we do family activities. I try to make sure we do things that include everybody. The air show is a rare thing, as I just didn't think Liam would like the hot weather and all the lines. But I knew Finn would love it. And that was a really hard choice for me to make.  Even if it means bringing extra helpers, we do things as a family.  :)

Editor's note:  Watch for a blog post on this topic coming soon!

sgrubb commented on August 18, 2015

Once again I want to say how much I admire Liam's Mom and how wonderfully Liam himself appears to be doing.  All the photos show a fully engaged child, not something some parents find easy with a child without any handicap.  I know Liam has a younger brother and I wonder how these two get on.  I wonder if they are any problems with jealousy from the younger sibling for all the attention that has to be paid to Liam.  Does he read braille and does he sign with Liam?

~ Sally