‘Tactile Books Made for Sharing’ Project was supported by City Partners in April 2017 by helping us to raise enough money tolaunch the project and later by providingus with volunteers from HIF. This project is supervised by the Vietnamese Institute forEducational Science (VNIES), inLiễu Giai. To date we have completed 32 tactile books and a further eight are in the making, so soon we will have 40 books completed. We aim to make 100 books and open a library.
We still have enough funds to carry on making more books so we don’t need to raise any more money at this point in time or even in the near future. Our library willlend our books to families of children with visual impairment or to mainstream schools and preschools where children with visual impairment are included. In the meantime we have started to lend books to an early intervention class for children with visual impairment at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School in Hanoi. The books have been well received by the children so far, it has been so wonderful to see their joy on encountering the books for the first time.
Our tactile books are mostly made from fabric but some are made from cardboard as these are easier for parents and teachers to copy. The text is provided in print for the parents or teachers to read aloud and also in Braille. We hope children with visual impairment will begin to feel and become familiar with Braille words and letters, just as young sighted children gradually become familiar with print and begin to recognise letters and words when learning to read. We have four levels of books, starting with real objects attached to the pages which are easiest to recognise. The next three levels gradually introduce tactile pictures to accompany the story, starting with simple representations of familiar objects until children are ready to interpret pictures representing unfamiliar objects or concepts such as water which are very difficult to represent in a tactile way.
We have been very encouraged that our small project has gained recognition from the media nationally inVietnam Youth Newspaper and VTV4 and Internationally. The world renowned Perkins School for the Blind in America asked us to write an article for their website called ‘Paths to Literacy”.
We were also asked to write and present a paper at the World Blindness Summit in Madrid in summer 2020 but of course this was cancelled. Our paper focussed on the unique factor that our books are at four levels so parents and teachers can select books appropriate to the child’s level of symbolic understanding and tactileskills and then help the child progress to the next level of book. Even though we were sad not to be able to attend, it was a great encouragement to us to gain such recognition for the educational quality of our books. The subsequent lockdown due to Covidalso gave us opportunity to reflect upon our project so far and make decisions about how to improve the books and our efficiency at making the books.
We realised that we needed new volunteers who can already sew as our books are mostly made from fabric. We made a connection with a group of local Vietnamese women who share the hobby of sewing. Seven new volunteers started in September. Their expertise at sewing has been amazing. The speed with which they can make the books and the increased quality of workmanship has been a tremendous blessing!
We are now seeking new volunteers from HIF who can attend our workshops on Tuesday afternoons at the research centre in Liễu Giai near Lotte. We need volunteers who are able to sew simple things by hand and/or are skilled at craft. This is a great opportunity to build relationships with some of our new Vietnamese volunteers and practise your Vietnamese!
Please contact Louise France via City Partners for more information.