The Rachel Project

IABTI Beeping Egg Ambassador - Rachel Hyche

In 2005, IABTI member David Hyche sought a way for his blind daughter Rachel to participate fully in a church Easter egg hunt. The hunt is not very fun or rewarding for a child when someone must lead them around and put their hand on the egg. Rachel was not yet two years old, but she already exhibited a desire for independence that would push Hyche to find ways for her to do things with little or no assistance.

Hyche searched the Internet and found that the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles, Calif., had information on their Web site about plastic eggs that beep, allowing a blind or visually impaired child to find the eggs on their own. They gave Hyche information on how they constructed the eggs and conducted an Easter egg hunt. Armed with this information, Hyche decided to hold a similar event in Birmingham, Ala.

First, he had to construct the audible electronic eggs, which consist of a switch, a piezo beeper, a 9-volt battery, a battery clip, and a large plastic egg, and cost around $11.50 per egg. Next, Hyche asked for assistance from his friends with the Birmingham Police Department Bomb Squad, the Hoover, AL, Police Department Bomb Squad, the Shelby County, AL, Sheriff’s Department, and his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) co-workers. This group of volunteers met at a local church and constructed 40 eggs. The bomb technicians and ATF certified explosives specialists are trained to work with electronic circuitry, which made them a natural fit for constructing beeping eggs.

Fox News - April 2, 2015

The event was a success, with 11 blind or visually impaired kids participating. Their parents and teachers saw how it taught independence, mobility, and location skills and asked if they could take the eggs home with them. Learning to locate and retrieve items is difficult for a blind or visually impaired child, and the beeping egg was both a valuable educational tool and a lot of fun. It was also something that a family can do together (sighted siblings and partially sighted participants can wear a blindfold).

Since that first year, the Birmingham hunt has grown. In 2007, 150 children participated. In 2009, there were two separate events to accommodate everyone. Some of the children who participated were in wheelchairs, deaf, or had very limited mobility. They all managed to find the eggs and have a great time.

In 2009, Hyche also supported an Easter egg hunt in Washington, D.C. The ATF staff at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research, IABTI member Joel Criswell and his wife, along with other IABTI members, built the eggs for this event. Several people asked that the event expand to other areas next year.

Hyche has become a Regional Director for the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI), and this organization has affiliates in most states and some other countries. Criswell brought this endeavor to the IABTI Executive Board and suggested that it consider supporting it. The Board has approved it and is working to develop a partnership between IABTI and NAPVI. Michigan State Police Bomb Squad has also constructed electronic eggs and worked with local groups to facilitate this type of event in their state.

If you are interested in supporting an event like this in your local area, please contact your IABTI Regional Director or David Hyche at (205) 213-5686 or bhamaapvi@bellsouth. net . If you prefer, you could also contact a local school for the blind or support group. This project means a lot to the kids and families who participate, but those who make the event possible reap even greater rewards.

Instructions for Beeping Easter Egg Hunt for visually impaired children

CONSTRUCTION – There are several methods for constructing the beeping Easter Eggs and my way is simple but durable and dependable. I purchase the components from Radio Shack. The Items I have been using are a small steel toggle switch (275-635) or a cheaper small toggle... (read more).

How to hold an event

To hold one of these events you will need a large flat grassy area with no holes, large rocks or fire ants. If you are from the northern US or a country that does not have fire ants count your blessings. I mark off an area appx. 50 meters square with stakes and crime scene tape as a safe boundary. Leave a space for easy entry and exit for the kids and helpers. I then have helpers turn on the eggs and ... (read more).