Sensory toys and vibrating speakers

What are sensory toys and how can they help?

For a child, toys have several functions - from encouraging them to interact and explore their surroundings, learning skills (such as reading text or braille) or just improving their quality of life. So it is important that all children have toys that are accessible to them.

Some classic games such as playing cards, Connect 4 and dominos have been adapted to be accessible to children who have sensory impairments. This is done through braille and tactile markings built into the pieces.

Multi-sensory toys with bright colours, bells and different tactile surfaces may encourage children with limited sight or hearing to use their remaining vision or hearing senses.

Total Sensory - Musical Mat | © Total Sensory]Toys with different textures may appeal to children with no usable sight or hearing.

Electronic toys that send sound to a speaker might be made accessible by using a vibrating speaker to turn the sound into vibrations.

What should I look for when buying one?

Multi-sensory toys are often aimed at children with special educational needs (SEN) so retailers and manufacturers that cater for this group may be a good place to look for toys for children who are deafblind.

Total Sensory –Flash Pad | © Total Sensory.]Selecting toys is dependent on a child’s residual levels of vision and hearing, and any additional needs.

One of the fundamental considerations when selecting toys would be cause and effect - for example, if a child manipulates or moves a toy, does it give a reward that they can detect and respond to?

Possible stockists

Please note: the following lists are not exhaustive and Sense is not responsible for the content of the external sites nor do we endorse the products mentioned.

Edu Play
Experia
Rhino UK
RNIB
ROMPA
Sense Toys
Sensory Toy Warehouse
Southpaw
Spacekraft
TFH Special Needs Toys
Total Sensory

What are vibrating speakers and how can they help?

Vibrating speakers are speaker systems that can be stuck to surfaces to make the whole surface vibrate. The idea of this is to turn any flat surface into a speaker, but it can also turn sounds into tactile vibrations that can be felt by children who are deafblind. These can also be placed against the hands or on the child’s back for variety.

What should I look for when buying one?

Bass is easier to feel than treble so look for speakers that provide good bass.

A gel speaker can often be a good option, so look out for them if searching the internet for vibrating speakers.

Possible stockists

Pixmania
Jawbone
Wowee (UK)
X2G Gadgets, Gifts & Gizmos

First published: Tuesday 22 May 2012
Updated: Thursday 14 January 2016