There’s an App for That: Preparing Your Child Who’s Blind or Low Vision for a Successful Transition to Adulthood (The 4to24 App)

2 photos. Both are showing hands holding cell phones, one with a login screen and the other with 4 to 24 app.

Recognizing that planning for life after high school starts early for students and youth with blindness and low vision, the APH ConnectCenter shares resources on both APH FamilyConnect and APH CareerConnect.  Along with our curated resources, Mississippi State University’s National Technical Assistance on Blindness and Low Vision created one such tool: the 4to24 mobile app.

The purpose of the app is to equip and empower parents and caregivers of children who are blind or low vision–You have an important role in helping your child prepare for a successful transition to adulthood. And did you know a successful transition starts in early childhood?! It’s true. 

The book Beyond High School: Preparing Adolescents for Tomorrow’s Challenges states “For students with disabilities, in particular, family support and involvement contribute to a successful transition and positively impact post school outcomes.”  

Transition – How parents can help prepare 

But just how can parents and caregivers support a child’s transition to adulthood? Let’s start with core concepts that begin when you first hold that tiny babe or meet your precious adopted child. 

  • Your role is to love your child for who they are, no matter their range of attributes and abilities. You give your child the understanding and foundation that they are valuable and lovable. This will be the backbone of their self-confidence (increasing their quality of life and employability). 
  • You have knowledge of your child like no other supporter in their life. Your role is to help your child identify their preferences, interests, skills, and limitations. They will benefit from the self- awareness as they make career-related decisions. 
  • You provide continuity and consistency as you support your child’s development and education throughout childhood. You know what motivates your child and how they best learn, and can therefore educate their educators on “what works and does not work” during IFSP or IEP meetings, and in any personal futures planning meetings for your teenager with multiple disabilities. 
  • You are your child’s advocate, ensuring they are as prepared as possible for future employment. You speak up for the needs of your child, including accessibility requirements, proper evaluations, and appropriate education (general and blindness-specific). You then teach your child to self-advocate! 

Here’s another core concept worth highlighting, which we’ll focus on for the remainder of the blog: Most of the skills and experiences your child will need to live independently can be rehearsed and mastered while still living at home, and only you can insist your child takes responsibility for them.  

Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) 

So, let’s examine the specific foundational skills and experiences that pave the way toward a satisfying adult life and rewarding employment. The skills and experiences are research based; you’ll find each source in parenthesis. 

  • Support your child in learning the Expanded Core Curriculum, essential for students with blindness or low vision to keep up with their sighted peers. This includes Orientation and Mobility, crucial for safe travel and future job success.
  • Expose your child to diverse work environments.
  • Request early start for transition services.
  • Have the IEP team conduct a vocational assessment in early high school to identify and develop your child’s career aptitudes.
  • Encourage enrollment in classes or tracks aimed at specific careers.
  • Promote participation in community activities, sports, or interest groups to build social skills.
  • Involve your teen in family chores to teach responsibility and teamwork.
  • Suggest starting a work experience, like a part-time job, school work opportunity, or volunteering.

Supporting your child’s incremental skill development in the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and ensuring a variety of work-related experiences can feel daunting! If only children came with handbooks—or, even better, an app that would alert you, reminding you to work toward a new skill! 

The 4to24 Mobile App 

Cue the fanfare! Mississippi State University’s National Technical Assistance on Blindness and Low Vision created one such tool: the 4to24 mobile app. The purpose of the app is to encourage incremental skill development and experiences by sending information, suggested activities, and accompanying resources such as APH FamilyConnect to parents of children ages 4 to 24 (or the youth themselves) and APH CareerConnect articles for transition-age youth who are blind or low vision. The self-paced modules are an effort to address all areas of the ECC, preparing the young person for a satisfying adult life and gainful employment.  

Support your child’s transition to adulthood by embracing these core concepts: love your child as they are, notice their interests, fight for their needs, and teach skills for independent living at home. The 4to24 app helps by reminding you when to teach specific skills. It also offers teaching ideas and resources. What a gift!