Create Tactile Books & Book Bags
By: Carmen Willings
Updated October 28, 2017
A book without tactile illustrations for a student who is blind is like a book without pictures for a sighted student. Creating tactually interesting books is important to foster an interest in reading.
There are some simple ways to make books accessible to all students. If you are planning to read an existing children's book, provide a copy of the book (the entire book, key passages or lines) in braille. It is possible to add transparent braille labels to some books, but those with longer passages will be more challenging to adapt. You may also choose to make your tactual books based on a current classroom theme or based on experience. During your planning of the book and deciding what to put on the pages, plan to keep the pages as simple as possible. Create simple sentences for the pages.
You can also create a "book bag" to go along with the book and include object(s) from the story. If you have collected materials related to the story, have the students explore the objects before reading the story. Discuss how they may relate to the story.
Possible Book Ideas
Start by obtaining heavily laminated sheets, sturdy paper or cardboard that can support materials being glued or attached to it. You may choose to use braille paper available from APH. If the student tends to tear the pages or explore it more roughly, you may choose to laminate the pages before adding textures. Avoid doing this if the student is sensitive to glare. Books can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes too, but consider the amount of braille and textures/objects on the page when determining the size.
The second step is to add the braille and print to ensure there is enough space and to ensure the page can be fed through the brailler before any textures are added (unless you plan to use clear braille labels). You will also need to decide if you are going to pair it with handwritten print or computer generated print. Computer generated print is ideal unless you have extremely neat handwriting. It is ideal for the book to be able to be read by sighted peers or siblings in a shared reading experience.
Select and attach realistic and interesting textures, objects and shapes for the students to feel and explore on the pages. The textures should be varied and reflect the qualities of the item that is being illustrated. Start collecting materials and saving them in a texture bin for future books. Although you can find many great materials at the local craft store, you can find an abundance of textures and materials around the school or home that are otherwise discarded.
There are many options for adhesives, but it is ideal to choose one that won't warp the surface. It is important to consider the material of the page that the material is being glued to. You can use a glue gun, rubber cement, glue stick, craft glue, double stick tape, or sticky dots.
There are many options for binding the pages of the book together including yarn, binder rings, spiral binding, or a three-ring binder.
Making Tactile Books is a web resource created by Christine Moe, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. It is dedicated to promoting early tactile literacy among students who are blind and those with visual impairments.
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