Role Models and Mentors for Teens Who are Blind or Low Vision

You might be very close with your child, but sometimes they need someone else to talk to or learn from. An older teen or adult who is blind or has low vision can be a great role model or mentor for them. And one day, your child might be a role model or mentor for a younger kid who is also blind or has low vision.

Mentors Share Individual Success

Sharing experiences with others who are blind or low vision can help your child understand that they are not alone, that others have had similar feelings to them. Equally important, a role model can demonstrate that having a blindness or low vision doesn’t prevent someone from being an active, successful person. Your child may be impressed and learn from any of the following:

  • A college student is introduced to who lives in a dorm on campus, shops for their own clothes, and participates in several extracurricular activities.
  • The high school senior in school who’s popular, gets top grades, and uses a variety of assistive technology. Just observing that person might help your child overcome any reluctance they may feel about using low vision devices or assistive technology tools because they are afraid they’ll make them seem different.
  • A classmate who travels around the city using public transportation. Talking with that person could help your child realize that orientation and mobility (O&M) instructor really does have a reason for teaching to cross intersections using a cane.

Mentors are often role models who take on the additional role of supporting your child in developing new skills. For example, the high school senior who uses a range of assistive technology may teach your child how to use a screen reading program, while encouraging the use of technology they already have. Sometimes mentors are sounding boards, giving their input and advice. Your child’s mentor may also have been left out of something because of their blindness or low vision and can tell your child how they have dealt with their feelings.

Supporting their Future

Your child can learn a lot about jobs and careers from adults who are blind or have low vision and are working. If your child is curious about a certain job, try to find someone in that field who is blind or has low vision. They can be a great mentor. But if you can’t find someone like that, any mentor, even if they don’t have visual impairments, can still offer a lot of support and encouragement.

There are many communities that have weekend or summer programs for young people who are blind or low vision. Talk with your child about whether they would like to participate in a program. Consider where they will meet others with blindness or low vision while having fun and learning new things. Your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments may be able to recommend a program. Other possible sources of information are your state department of education or your state rehabilitation agency.

It’s also important that your child recognize the importance of giving back to others. Encourage your child to be a role model for younger children with blindness or low vision or other disabilities. Remind your child how much they looked up to their own role models and help your child see that they can be a role model too. Becoming involved in a mentor relationship can be an enriching experience and a deeply meaningful one as well.