Learning about Laundry

By Courtney Tabor-... on Oct 26, 2016

Doing laundry is an important component of independent living skills for individuals transitioning from school to adult life. However, laundry can be a challenging experience for individuals who are blind or low vision. Labeling laundry appliances for accessibility and finding a strategy to use detergent safely are some ways of navigating these challenges, but oftentimes students have challenges around concept development.

In order for students with vision impairments to do laundry independently, it can be helpful for them to first have a concept of what laundry appliances look like, how they work, what features all washers and dryers have in common, and how they may differ from one appliance to the next. Many transition-aged students with vision impairments have little to no laundry experience, even in their own homes. Furthermore, familiarity with a home washer and dryer does not necessarily mean that it will be easy for a student to use laundry machines in other places. This activity aims to address concept development in order to promote independent living skills.

Materials

  • Clothing items for washing
  • Soap or other basic laundry supplies
  • Coins for laundry, if needed
  • Braille, large print, or tactile markers, if needed

Procedure

 

Part I:  Laundry in the Home Environment

Starting with the laundry machines in the student’s home, or the machines that the student’s family uses most frequently, practice doing a load of laundry with the student. Put labels on the washer and dryer for accessibility.  If this is the student’s first time doing laundry, don’t worry about her level of independence with the activity at this point. This is just to get a feel for what the process is like. A student can easily complete this step by becoming involved in her family’s typical laundry routine. During this process, orient the student to the machines and how they work.  Show where the clothes are put in, where to put soap, where the lint screen is and how to clean it.  Allow the student to explore the dials or buttons on the machine and discuss the options available.

Part II:  Laundry in the Community

The second part of this activity is community-based. The student and instructor or family member should go to a laundromat and/or a home supply store that sells large appliances (e.g. Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.). In either or both of these settings, the student can explore the types of washing machines and dryers available. How does a coin-operated machine work? How do the dials and buttons differ from one machine to another? Where are lint screens located on different dryers? What is the difference between front and top loading machines? Focus not only on the differences between the appliances, but also on what all appliances have in common (i.e. all dryers have a lint screen). This will help the student to begin conceptualizing how the process works and how to transfer this skill from one place to another.

Variations

  • This activity is especially relevant for students who plan to go to college after high school, where they will need to get used to using coin or card-operated laundry
  • For students with more complex needs, this activity can be broken down into smaller relevant components. In part I of this activity, the student can participate in her family’s laundry routine by helping take clothes out of the dryer. This is an opportunity to work on sorting and identifying clothing items, talking about wet vs. dry, clean vs. dirty, etc.
  • This activity is also an opportunity to work on other components of the Expanded Core Curriculum. Students who are totally blind can build on their tactual sensory efficiency by exploring and identifying the various dials and buttons on the laundry appliances. This is also a great way for students to build on skills that can be used in a work setting, such as an entry-level position doing laundry in a hotel.
  Collage of learning to do laundry