Tactile Quilts for Blind Babies
Submitted by Liz Hosmer, District 5220
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
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
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 of the 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