Halloween Tips for the Visually Impaired

Tomorrow is Halloween. Trick or Treating may look different this year thanks to the coronavirus but everyone can still celebrate the little ghoul in us all. Some places are having trunk or treats, drive thru trick or treating, and even zoom type Halloween costume contests. This blog will look at costume ideas, safety issues, and fun craft ideas for persons with visual impairments to ensure everyone can participate in the fun festivities.

Costume Ideas

No matter what your interests, creative skill, or ability there are costume options available for everyone. Ideas from this section came from Your Cane Can Dress Up for Halloween Too and Incorporating Blindness Canes into Halloween Costumes. If you, or your loved one, uses a wheelchair or are an amputee, Bored Panda offers a compilation of great costume ideas for you as well.

Witch: The basic witch’s outfit can be as simple as wearing all black with a pointed hat. You could also add a cape, striped stockings, a fake nose, and/or makeup. If you have use a cane it can become part of the costume as well. You can use many different materials to create broom bristles, construction paper, straw, or even dried corn husks. Bunch your preferred material around the last joint of your cane and fasten it together with a rubber band and there you have it—the perfect broomstick for the spookiest of witches!

Fairy Prince or Princess: The outfit can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish from wearing something you have on hand to purchasing a frilly pastel color dress or suit. If you would like to utilize your cane you can take a spool of ribbon in your favorite color and carefully wrap the ribbon around your cane, winding it up from the bottom to the top. Fasten each end with sturdy tape and you have just transformed a plain white cane into a magical wand, charming and elegant for any fairy. Attaching flowers, feathers, glitter, or jewels can add an extra polished finish to your wand.

Magician or Ringmaster: Abracadabra! A magician is a fun costume that can make a cane seem like a very long magic wand, and it can also be used as a ringmaster costume for a circus. Your outfit can be as simple as a black pants, white shirt, and a black or red jacket. A top hat and/or bowtie can complete the look.

Favorite Character: If you are dressing up as your favorite superhero or cartoon character a simple idea to add flare to your costume is a cardboard “speech balloon” using a favorite line from that character. Write your character’s most memorable phrase or a silly saying on the cardboard and use tape to attach the speech balloon to your cane. Pose with the speech balloon pointed towards you and you will capture the spirit of your character perfectly! If you have a Braille writing or embossing device in your possession, add Braille to the speech balloon and make your catchphrase accessible!

Safety Tips

For most of us, Halloween is a holiday filled with fantasy, fun and candy.  For children and adults with a disability there can be some unique challenges. The following tips come from 15 Halloween Safety Tips for Kids With Disabilities. Some of these tips are not as important if you will be participating in a drive thru trick or treating where everyone stays inside their respective vehicle. For those still participating in door to door trick or treating these safety tips are especially important.

  • Stay away from costumes that include elaborate masks, eye patches, long-haired wigs, or over-sized hats. They can become unwieldy and may frustrate children. Be prepared to wear them yourself if your child decides to discard it!
  • Grisly boots, princess slippers and any other shoes should fit snugly so they do not fall off in the fog on Halloween night.
  • Ensure all your child’s costume elements are fire resistant. You can do this by checking tags or the costume packaging. (Do not take a match or lighter to it like a mindless mummy would.)
  • If your child is uncomfortable in a traditional costume, let them pick out something they enjoy instead. Maybe they prefer a Halloween themed T-shirt or forgoing a costume altogether. Some children with cognitive differences are uncomfortable with trick-or-treating. That is okay! Let them hand out candy at home, with parental supervision of course.
  • After a night of fun, go through the candy haul and remove anything that looks like it may have been opened or tampered with. For those with food allergies, look for these teal pumpkins! The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement to provide non-food treats, so children with food allergies or other conditions can still fill their bucket.
  • Children with visual disabilities who are not fully blind should use a flashlight to brighten walkways, sidewalks, and staircases. Parents: you can also utilize the flashlight function on your smartphone if you prefer not to lug around a flashlight all night.

A fun alternative to trick-or-treating is a trunk-or-treat, fall festival or local Halloween party! Many community centers, school and churches offer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Your kids can still dress up, haul in the candy loot, but in an environment that is more controlled and often safer than navigating the streets.

Craft Ideas

 Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children of all ages. Luckily, there are many different types of crafts that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of ability or interest level.  Complete instructions can be found by clicking on the craft title. Ideas from this section came from 10 Halloween Craft Ideas for Blind and Visually Impaired Children and 10 Accessible and Sensory-Friendly Halloween Ideas.

Autumn Wreath Project: This is a fun, two-part tactile project for visually impaired children. Collecting the materials outdoors and using them to create a wreath is a fun way for your child to enjoy the scents and textures of fall.

Cotton Ball Ghosts: This is a fun project that can be adapted by using puff paint to draw the outline of a ghost out on construction paper.

Tactile Spider Web: This tactile project uses yarn, Styrofoam, pipe cleaners and pompoms to create a three-dimensional spider web that is fun to touch.

Spooky Sensory Experience: A fun way to get blind children involved in the spooky side of Halloween is by filling food storage containers with creepy objects for your child to feel. The link above provides ideas that are likely better suited for older children. For little ones, consider using funny objects such as slime, pumpkin guts, or faux spider webs.

Textured Pumpkin: This is a simple idea to make a textured drawing by placing mats or other bumpy surfaces under your paper while you color with crayons. If your child cannot see the outline of the pumpkin, you can always raise the lines with puffy paint too!

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.