11-year-old Rachel Hyche has been blind since she came home from the hospital.
"Rachel rides horses, watches movies, drives a golf cart, roller skates, and does most things other kids her age do," her father, David, told Upworthy. "Some of the things are done a little different but we usually find a way."
David says that at just 18 months old, Rachel was a confident toddler whose self-affirming favorite phrase was "I do it by self." But, when Easter rolled around that year, David realized there was a problem — how could Rachel participate in an Easter egg hunt if she couldn't see the brightly colored eggs?
He had been asked to help plan the Easter egg hunt for his local church in Alabama, and he wanted Rachel to be able to participate. With her insistence on doing everything "by self," he was determined to find a way for her to do so without parental assistance. David needed a way to let Rachel be her independent egg-hunting self without cramping her style.
Rachel might be visually impaired, but her hearing was totally fine — and that's when David found the perfect solution:
Easter eggs that beep.
It took some quick research online, but thanks to his day job as a bomb technician, David knew a thing or two about electronics and was able to craft an innovative beeping egg for his daughter.
The idea was well-received by both kids and their parents.
"The kids really enjoy being able to do this activity by themselves. I have seen kids grow in confidence before my eyes and parents change their attitudes about what activities their kids can do with a little modification," David said, noting that letting Rachel try anything and everything she wants can be difficult at times.
"I learned from my Rachel not to decide for her what she likes and doesn’t like or what she can and cannot do. Sometimes this is hard. A skateboard comes to mind."
Teachers at schools for the visually impaired also fell in love with the idea and started using the eggs for lessons beyond the Easter hunt.
"Teachers for the blind have also used the eggs year-round to teach location skills. I noticed early on that my daughter had trouble finding items she dropped or lost. The eggs teach the kids to search in three dimensions, not just on the floor," David explained.
In the last couple years, the beeping Easter eggs have spread to communities all over the country.
Bomb squads in Prince George County. Maryland, and Tampa Bay Florida, recently used crafting the eggs as a training exercise in soldering and circuitry as well as an opportunity to give back to the community.
"[The officers] really don't like to be out in the front of things so for us to use our skills to help kids that are not as fortunate as most makes all of us feel good," said Randall Mattson-Laurent of Tampa Bay.
David Hyche has spent the past decade working on other innovative Easter ideas to help even more kids with disabilities.
"This year I built and tried a vibrating egg that I believe will allow kids who are both deaf and blind to participate next year," he told Upworthy. "I believe that the kids will be able to locate the eggs through vibrations if we place them on a wood floor."
David knows that simple modifications like these can truly help kids with disabilities feel included, just like they did for his daughter.
"I really enjoy the exposure that the blind and visually impaired kids and adults get through this project," he said. "I had never known a blind person prior to Rachel and I was nervous around them at first. I think that the more that the public understands anything that they are not familiar with, the more it will be accepted."
As for Rachel, she's outgrown the Easter egg hunts, but has inherited her dad's helpful spirit.
"As a self-described, 11-year-old pre-teen, my daughter claims to be too grown up to hunt eggs," he says. "We now move into the phase of her helping other kids during the event. She still gets candy."