Create wellness books for deafblind children

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A project to create accessible books for deafblind children is developing throughout the country.

The Deafblind Literacy Project was launched by the Anne Sullivan Foundation last year, with the aim of increasing the learning, communication and personal development of deafblind children.

Volunteers were trained and given materials to create tactile books.

Sorcha Nallen, the charity’s deafblind literacy manager, said: “We now have around 700 people involved in the project. Many of them are transition year students. For to make a book more accessible to deafblind children, we ask our volunteers to add something to the book to give it a tactile element.”

Sorcha Nallen, Anne Sullivan Foundation

While most children have access to books at home and at school, a deafblind child may have a limited choice of books.

Among the volunteers involved in the project are transition year students from Loreto College in Bray, County Wicklow.

Clodagh O’Keeffe, 16, has made a book showing how different farm animals feel, using materials like wool and feathers.

She said: “You can smell the book we made. It helps you know what the animal feels like. We made a few different animals like a pig. We cut some fabric so you can smell what the animal is like. a pig, we also used wool for a sheep.”

Clodagh O’Keeffe holding the book she made

One of Clodagh’s classmates, Milly Yan, created a more accessible version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Milly said, “We made the font bigger and the words simpler for the kids. We made the books tactile so the kids could also feel the textures. It was really fun.”

Milly Yan with her accessible version of ‘The Grinch’

Books made by volunteers are delivered to special schools.

Ms Nallen said: “The feedback has been really great. The teachers said they are really helpful. This allows deafblind children to have the same opportunities as their peers.

The Anne Sullivan Foundation says it eventually hopes to create a network of tactile school libraries across Ireland.

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