Gifts for All Children
Likewise, books are dime-a-dozen and are hailed as man’s best friend, but our visually impaired brothers and sisters have to settle for a restricted selection of Braille best sellers stocked at centres that specifically cater to them. And even there, only popular classics that can engage teenagers and adults are most likely to be lined on the shelves. But what about early literacy books for little kids with special needs, after all science has established that a large chunk of a child’s intellect is developed before he is three.
Namita along with her colleagues at Chetana, an NGO, The National Association for The Blind(NAB) and Vidya Sagar, a school for children handicapped by mental retardation and cerebral palsy have enhanced existing children’s literature to appeal to every single child – incapacitated or not.
Encouraged by the spontaneous acceptance of their trial book Where is the button?, that was authored in-house, Chetana calculated that it was more viable to purchase at a discount caliber publications from the publishers and augment the same instead of originating new books. “Our objective was to attract children with the severest of disorders and yet tempt a normal child to pick up our book,” informs Namita. The books being universal would also address the vital concern of retail feasibility.
The initial 100 stories that have been enriched are from Tulika. “The advantages with Tulika books are their quality of publishing, the Indian flavour they accord to their tales and the translated versions in vernacular languages that guarantee a good reach,” explains Namita. By finely outlining the pictures in the books with fabric paint, the volunteers at Chetana built in the tactile component, The NAB kindled young voices from Lady Andal School to record the stories on audio tapes and Braille experts have Brailled the narrative on transparent self adhesive peel off strips and pasted them over the existing text so that children can read both the script as well as the Braille.
“We discovered that our books strengthened concepts and concentration even amongst mainstream children. The students of regular schools were intrigued by the Braille, hence it sensitized them and they even developed decoding games with Braille,” says Namita who is extremely assuaged by Chetana’s current endeavour.
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