Above: From Morgh-e Sorkh-e Pa Kootah (The Little Red Hen) by Setareh Eghtedari and Parvin Dowlatabadi (text), and Badbadak Tactile Group (tactile adaptation), Iran. In this adaptation of a classic tale, Braille on each page and a variety of textures offer a tactile experience for children who are blind or have low vision.
Primary school pupils have been feeling their way through the IBBY Special Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities. In an IBBY Ireland workshop to accompany the exhibition on its tour of Irish libraries, the children are discovering new ways of reading, from Braille to pictures to pop-up, and making sense of stories presented in different languages and media.
After browsing the exhibition of 50 books in more than 20 languages, pupils then imagine a world in which one sense – sight – is missing. They put their hands in bags or boxes filled with different materials. Without knowing the content, they use bright pastels and large sheets of paper to translate the texture into a picture or pattern. What colour is it? Does it conjure a bright, cheerful scene or a dark pattern? What memory does it recall: walking on the beach, baking a cake, riding a bicycle on a windy day? All these interpretations and more – sometimes from the same texture – enable children to explore creatively the world of those facing sensory challenges.
As Einstein put it: ‘Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’