Little Bear Sees Helping visually impaired children learn to see Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:31:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Announcing Our Third iPad Grant Cycle Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:03:17 +0000 It’s been a long time in the making, but Little Bear Gives is excited to announce that our third CVI iPad package grant will take place in April of this year!

The package includes:

* You must have an iTunes account in order to receive the app.

Read more about it on our Little Bear Gives page.

]]> 0
The Myth of Cortical Blindness Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:21:13 +0000 Over and over again, we hear stories about kids being diagnosed with cortical blindness. Unfortunately, parents don’t always know any different and, having been told their child is blind, they give up on finding ways to help improve vision! According to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, “Cortical blindness is an older term for CVI. The term “blindness” can be misleading. Children with CVI usually have some level of vision that  may show some improvement over time.”

What we know now, is that the brain is plastic and, with proper intervention, we can help our children’s brains reorganize and learn to see! In our book, Little Bear Sees, Dr. Roman-Lantzy states, “The brain compensates for damage by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. But, in order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.” Children with CVI are NOT blind. With activities that build on the vision they do have, we can help their brains make new connections and help their vision improve! For some ideas on how to get started, check out our page: What To Do 

We are dedicated to making sure that children with CVI get the help they need. Help us out, spread the word, and let’s eliminate the term “cortical blindness”!

]]> 0
Best Books for Kids with CVI Wed, 05 Mar 2014 18:39:35 +0000 Books can be difficult for kids with CVI. Two dimensional materials are always harder and they are often too visually busy. We’ve found some great ones that Little Bear loves, though! Here are some favorites that are visually simple and include highly saturated colors:

So Big! (Honestly, can you ever go wrong with Elmo?)


That’s Not My Dinosaur (This one is also great because it’s got texture!)


And a few suggestions from our Facebook friends:

I Like It When by Mary Murphy


The Miffy Series by Dick Bruna


]]> 2
Little Bear’s Christmas List Fri, 20 Dec 2013 05:01:00 +0000 We’ve been having a great conversation over at our Facebook page about gift ideas for kids with CVI.  We know how tough it can be to find good gifts, but this year we’ve gotten some excellent ideas from all of you!  So, after much consideration, here is the final list of what we decided on for our little bear.  Come visit our page to see the other ideas we considered and to share your own!

1. Doodle Dome:

We’re very excited about this one as a great way to create an instant dark room for Lukas!  He loves being in the dark room at school, so we know he’ll enjoy looking at his iPad and lots of different light up toys in here too!  Thanks, Crystal, for the suggestion!

2. Musical Twister:

Lukas has always loved toys that are switch adapted and Enabling Devices makes many of his favorites!  This one looked like it could offer some excellent visual stimulation as well due to the movement and sparkly quality of the glitter.  Can’t wait to see him try it out!

3. Tickle Tube:

Grandma thought her little bear needed another toy he could occupy himself with when Mom and Dad are busy with his new little sister.  This looks like a great option for both visual stimulation with the light and tactile interest!

4. Sing & Play Activity Box:

At school, Lukas is working on making choices visually.  He loves songs and this box seemed like the perfect way to have a visual representation of different songs for him to choose from!  Each item is pretty visually simple and it wouldn’t be hard to find other simple items to add to it to represent more songs.  We also loved that this one was a relatively inexpensive gift for Lukas!

5. Punchy Poncho

Finally, even though this isn’t directly related to CVI, we are very excited about this item for Little Bear!  Many children with CVI also have cerebral palsy and many of these children are in wheelchairs.  Lukas gets cold easily and we often have a hard time keeping a blanket on him or getting him into a coat.  This is the perfect solution to our problem!  They are essentially wearable blankets which go over the head.  This makes them easy to put on and keep on.

These ponchos are made by another mom of a child with special needs trying to solve this same problem for her daughter.  She really works hard to make sure you get exactly what you need in a fabric you and your child will love!  We definitely recommend checking out her site!


]]> 0
iPad App Released: My Talking Picture Board Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:13:02 +0000
Little Bear Sees and Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children proudly present their first collaborative app for those with cortical visual impairment (CVI). This innovative app allows the user to create two-dimensional object identification tasks using their own photos and voice.

Though designed for students with CVI, this is a great app for parents or teachers working with any student to discriminate between different images! It can also be used to create a short talking picture story. Upload images from your day at the zoo, for example, record voice narration for each picture and arrange them on the play screen in any order you wish! Then just tap the pictures in sequence to tell your story.

More information about My Talking Picture Board. Buy it on iTunes.

]]> 0
A CVI Christmas List Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:17:49 +0000

We’ve finally managed to get all of our Christmas shopping done for Little Bear and wanted to share some of the great items we found that we think will be perfect for kids with CVI!

Another parent shared with us this great website, where we found a number of excellent options for Lukas: As he continues to make progress with switch activation, we wanted to buy items that can be switch adapted and also provide great visual stimulation. Here’s what we found:

Small Lava Volcano

This battery-powered table-top volcano can be easily switch adapted with the help of a battery interrupter such as this. This seemed like a particularly good option for Lukas as it combines both motion and one of his favorite colors: red.

Jellyfish Aquarium
Little Bear has always loved the jellyfish tanks at our local aquarium, but it certainly isn’t practical to try to maintain such a tank at home. Luckily, we’ve found this fabulous mock jellyfish tank, with faux jellyfish and color-changing LED lights! This one is also battery-powered and we’re hoping he’ll love it just as much as the real thing.

Light-Up Color-Changing Slinky™
Slinkies are a classic CVI toy and this one seems to be even better than the original! With lights that change colors at the push of a button, this Slinky is great for kids that have a preference for objects that light up.

Light-Up Rattle
Finally, speaking of objects that light up, several people have mentioned this great toy to us: NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle. Little Bear loves to lay on the sofa and hold on to rattles, but now he’ll have one that’s more visually interesting than most!

We’re so excited to watch Lukas try all of these goodies we’ve found! We’d love to hear what other great gift ideas you have for your kids!

]]> 3
Second Little Bear Sees iPad giveaway Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:30:41 +0000

It’s been a busy couple of months here at Little Bear Sees, and we have some very exciting things to announce!

Our first ever Little Bear Gives CVI iPad package giveaway was a great success!  We are happy to report we received almost fifty submissions!  We were so touched by the many stories we read as we understand exactly how challenging it can be to raise a child with CVI.  We truly wish we could give iPads to everyone!  We were delighted to offer the full CVI iPad package to a lucky little girl in Illinois named Olivia.  We hope she is doing well and reaping the benefits of owning her very own iPad.

Little Bear Gives is excited to announce that our second CVI iPad package giveaway will take place in December of this year!  The package includes:

* You must have an iTunes account in order to receive the app.

Applications from all qualified applicants from the previous giveaway have been kept on file and applicants can automatically re-qualify through our website by clicking here.  This option is only for those who already submitted an application in the previous cycle, were notified that their application qualified for our giveaway, and wish to have it entered again into this cycle.  At this time we are only considering applications for a child with cortical visual impairment and in which the family has a financial need.  The application can be filled out by anyone on behalf of the child (a parent, therapist, other family member, etc), but only one application can be submitted per child.  Only applications filled out in full will be considered.

If you would like to enter our giveaway for the first time, you can fill out our application online or print and mail it to:

Little Bear Sees
1513 Ralston Ave.
Burlingame, CA 94010

All applications must be received by December 15, 2012 and the winner will be chosen by December 30, 2012.

]]> 0
Colorful Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids with CVI Mon, 12 Nov 2012 23:51:34 +0000

As we’ve mentioned before, color is hugely important for kids with CVI. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that because black and white is good for the early visual development of typically-developing kids, it must also be good for kids with CVI. While some kids with CVI are able to respond to black and white, it is rarely as easy for them to see as objects with highly saturated color. The reason for this may be that the part of the brain that perceives color is usually not injured because it is located deep within the brain on both sides.

Many kids with CVI actually have one color that they prefer over others; one color that is easier for them to see and to which they will respond more readily. For kids in the early phases of CVI (to read more about the phases, click here), it is especially important to pay attention to which color is preferred and ensure that objects are only one or two colors. Unfortunately, many children’s toys are very busy, full of many colors and too visually complex for kids with CVI. For that reason, and with the holidays just around the corner, we wanted to suggest a few visually simple and highly colorful objects that might work as a holiday gift for a child with CVI!

As you probably know, like many children with CVI, Lukas’ first preferred color was red. To this day he still loves his Elmo! These stuffed Elmo and Clifford dolls, both on, are great for kids who prefer red. They are both a very bright shade of red and a decent size for keeping with your child on the go.

For kids who prefer yellow, Big Bird (click here to see it on is an obvious choice and another of Lukas’ favorites. This Big Bird Hand Puppet on could be a great way to add movement to the object!

Though red and yellow are the most common preferred colors, some parents have found that their children prefer other colors early on, like orange, pink, blue or green. This orange aardvark on is not only adorable, but could be a great option for a child who prefers orange!

Pink can be tricky as many pink toys are a very pale shade of pink and, remember, saturation or brightness of color is important for kids with CVI. This bright pink cat on, however is perfect for kids who like pink!

When searching for toys in new colors for Little Bear, we often go to Amazon and search the Stuffed Animals and Plush section of their Toys and Games department for a specific color and then just scroll until we find something that is bright and single-colored. Give it a try and let us know if you find any other great toys for kids with CVI!

]]> 0
Little Bear Gives: iPads for Families in Need Mon, 16 Jul 2012 01:54:29 +0000

We are proud to announce Little Bear Sees Foundation’s first project: Little Bear Gives. The focus of Little Bear Gives will be to provide CVI iPad packages to families in need who have children with CVI. A family at any income level may be considered for this project. The term “family in need” applies to any family who may not be able to afford an iPad for a variety of reasons. We know that many children with CVI have complex medical or other needs that can be very expensive, making it difficult to find the money to invest in an iPad.

We believe the iPad can be an amazingly powerful tool in the life of a child with CVI. iPads are uniquely suited to the needs of those with CVI because they are backlit, easy to interact with, and there is a huge variety of apps available to suit the particular needs and preferences of each child. For these reasons, we are excited to announce that we are giving away our first iPad through our Little Bear Gives project! Our iPad package will include:

For more information about the project, or to apply, please read all the details on our Little Bear Gives page.

]]> 0
The Importance of iPads for Children with CVI and How to Get One for Free! Mon, 16 Jul 2012 00:25:46 +0000

We believe strongly in the power of the iPad to help those with cortical visual impairment (CVI) and we are certainly not alone! In fact, Dr. Muriel Saunders at the University of Kansas, has recently conducted research on just what an incredible tool the iPad can be in helping children with CVI. According to an article posted by the California Deaf-Blind Services, the benefits of the iPad for children with CVI include:

  • brightly lit background/screen
  • bright colors
  • unlimited forms and pictures
  • interactivity
  • software that responds to the child’s actions. (I’m in control; I have an impact.)
  • the ability for the child to control starting and stopping
  • possibilities for children who do not have reach and grasp
  • portability due to its small size
  • sturdiness if in the right casing

You can find more information about Muriel Saunders and her research in the articles below:

Gloria: The iPad and Apps for Children with CVI

iPad research promising for children with cortical visual impairment

Blind Children Use iPads Successfully

We know the iPad can be expensive, which is why we have created our Little Bear Gives project to give CVI iPad packages to families in need who have a child with CVI. Applying to our project is not the only way you might qualify for a free iPad, however. In fact, our friends at have recently written an excellent article called 5 Ways to Get a Free iPad for Your Special Needs Child! If you have any other ideas or suggestions on how to get an iPad, please let us know below, or share on our Facebook page!

]]> 0