Volunteers Create Books for Visually Impaired Students
THE TACTILE BOOKS TEACH THEM BASIC CONCEPTS LIKE READING AND COUNTING
FARGO, N.D. — Kids who can’t see don’t learn the same way students with vision do.
In order to grasp concepts like reading and counting, they need to feel sensory objects, some of which others would simply throw away.
“A lot of them came from the vision teachers because we collect a lot of what other people would say junk, so we brought it together today to kind of share to make the books,” said workshop host and teacher Julie Anderson.
Visually impaired students don’t have a lot of options for learning foundations that other children learn by simply seeing.
Volunteers at this book making workshop are making those options for them possible.
“How many things did students who are typically developing visually have in their own homes? You know, they have tons to choose from. Our students aren’t that fortunate. So, we have to kind of create them, and it takes a long time, so getting together is a lot of fun,” said Anderson.
But just because visually impaired students don’t learn the same way, doesn’t mean they don’t get to enjoy the same books other children do.
“Maybe we have the book ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,’ and since they can’t see the pictures, we have a cup and a mouse and a cookie, and all the different things, and they get to play the pictures as they do them. And they’re so excited, they’re just, ‘Can we do it again?’ Every day, they want to ask for that book again,” said Anderson.
The biggest hurdle is getting the kids engaged so they don’t get bored. That’s where the volunteers are encouraged to let their creativity flow.
They’re given the necessary tools like glue, scissors, and sensory objects, but the rest is up to their imaginations.
Their masterpieces include things like pennies, buttons and even fur. And the more, the better.
“It’s only what we put under the child’s hands and bring it to their world that they know about, so they need to be bombarded,” said Anderson.
These concepts will help the students transition into reading braille, something the volunteers are making sure to include in all of the books created.
“I grew up loving to read and loving books, so knowing that students who wouldn’t get much out of a regular print book will now get to explore reading and learn to love reading, that makes my day,” said workshop volunteer and teacher Emily Stenberg.
And hopefully the students’ new handcrafted tactile books will make their days.
The books created will be used by students first at Fargo Public Schools and later on at the North Dakota Vision School.