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Activity and strategy

Organizing Bench to Promote Independent Living Skills

Promote independent living skills and braille literacy through an organizer bench at home or school

My son Liam is 8 years old and just started third grade. He is deafblind and a braille reader. It is very important to me that I provide every opportunity for him to be as independent as possible and also provide an accessible environment for him at home. I think it is crucial for him to participate and help around the house along with his younger brother Finn (typical vision and hearing). Life skills, such as helping with laundry, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, etc., are valuable skills to be learned at home. With the school year starting (and now with Liam’s little brother starting Kindergarten) I wanted to create a place in our home where the kids can organize their school things.

Setting up a Front Room Organizer

We made a front room organizer that sits near our front door. It includes a bench to sit down and put shoes on, bins for each of the kids below to store shoes and hooks for each of them to hang up coats and backpacks. Of course each compartment is labeled in print and braille both.

finished organization bench with hooks for coats, a hook for Liam's cane, and bins for shoes
Finished organization bench with hooks for coats, a hook for Liam’s cane, and bins for shoes
name tags written in print and braille with wooden pegs
Name tags written in print and braille

Liam also has a spot that is clearly labeled for his cane to hang.  

a hook for Liam's cane, labeled with print and braille text
A hook for Liam’s cane, labeled with print and braille text

Benefits of Having a Front Room Organizer

Organization is a key skill for a child who is blind to learn to find their things independently. Below are the benefits of having a front room organizer:

  • Supports independence of all children, especially children with vision impairments.   The kids will be able to put their backpacks, coats and shoes away when they get home.
  • Having their things put away in the correct spot makes it easy for them to find their things in the morning when it is time to leave for school.  Everything has its own spot.  
backpacks hanging on the hooks above the organization bench
Backpacks hanging on the hooks above the organization bench
Liam reading a name tag on the organization bench
Liam reading a name tag on the organization bench
  • The labels of the kids’ names are clearly labeled in braille and print so they are accessible for everyone.  

Materials

  • Bench:  I found this bench at a garage sale
  • Shoe bins:  I found them at Target.  I purposely bought sturdy plastic ones, so they can be washed out and can become wet during the winter time without getting ruined.
Liam looking at the blue plastic shoe bins
Liam exploring the blue plastic shoe bins
  • Wooden backboard:  My friend designed and created it for me with spare lumber we had and attached it to the back of the bench.  
  • Hooks for the backpacks and coats (I found mine at Menards)
  • Chalkboard labels:  I found mine online at amazon.com.  
  • Chalkboard pen:  Hobby Lobby
  • Big Braille: Wooden pieces from any hobby store attached with wood glue
wooden pegs are used to make braille name tags
Wooden pegs are used to make braille name tags
Collage of organizing bench to promote independent living skills
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