Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tactile graphics

Yesterday an old school friend contacted me via Facebook, since which time the usual "what have you been doing" messages have been rattling back and forth.

I'm so impressed with what she's been doing, I thought I'd give her a mention here today.

Lynette runs her own preschool. A few years ago, a three year old blind girl enrolled at her school. Lynette noticed how this little girl used to love to pretend to be able to read the books in the reading corner, asking the sighted children to explain to her what was on the page. Lynette decided to track down some materials that the little girl could appreciate for herself and came up empty, so she decided to set the matter to rights.

She started making tactile books for children aged 3-7, and is now supplying an international market. Books are currently available in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa - the three main languages spoken in the area of South Africa where Lynette is based, but they are fully customisable. For example, Lynette offers to leave a space below each picture so that a parent/teacher can add text or braille in the child's mother tongue. Of course, since each book is individually handmade, they take some time to produce, and she understandably has a two month backlog at present. It seems to me like she could do with a few extra pairs of hands!

There are educational books about colours, numbers and such; a series of storybooks; a handful of nature storybooks; cloth books for the really little ones and several educational games. She has also developed a set of manuals for parents and teachers.

To be brutally honest - the navigation on her website could be more intuitive, but you're more than savvy enough to cope with that!

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