What We Discovered In Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids

It started as a pretty straightforward concept: blind and visually impaired kids miss out on critical information that is conveyed through pictures in children’s storybooks. Many times, the illustrations in children’s books supplement the text and enhance the story, both in entertainment value and through additional information that helps move the story forward.

After observing a group of sighted kids laughing uproariously when shown the pictures as they were read the Dr. Seuss classic, Hop on Pop, a simple rhyming book, I knew that blind kids were also missing out on a lot of fun.

How could we make the act of reading children’s picture books more interesting for blind kids and spark a love of reading that would last a lifetime? This was the question that some NBP staffers, headed by former publisher, Diane Croft, asked after hearing Matt Kaplowitz of Bridge Multimedia, show parents how to describe pictures to their visually impaired child to make storybooks come alive.

Amazing Grace.png

How would you describe this picture? Check out the picture descriptions on our website: http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/programs/gep/grace/grace-picdesc.html

That was the beginning of the Great Expectations: Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids program. Not only does the program help parents and teachers tell the “whole story” by providing picture descriptions for each Great Expectations book selection, but NBP and a cadre of dedicated volunteers went even further. Now, the program takes a multi-sensory approach to literacy — songs, tactile play, body movement, engaged listening, as well as picture descriptions — all designed to promote active reading experiences for children with visual impairments and featured on our website, www.nbp.org.

This program has been well received by sighted parents and teachers but what we didn’t expect was how many blind parents absolutely love this program. The picture descriptions provide blind parents with information that was previously unavailable to them. Now when reading to their child from one of NBP’s print/braille GE books, they can engage in a dialogue with their child using information from the pictures that is rich with learning opportunities. They can also share in the laughter with their kids when pictures are silly or whimsical.

As a result of this discovery, the Great Expectations program tries to incorporate more elements that blind parents will also find useful. We welcome feedback from all parents — blind and sighted — on how to keep this program lively and informative.

By Kimberley Ballard

Follow the Great Expectations program on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/GreatExpectationsProgram/

 

 

An iPad Book Giveaway: Because We Can All Use the Help!

iOS Success by Larry L. Lewis, Jr.

iOS Success by Larry L. Lewis, Jr.

A question I hear a lot is: “I finally bought an iPad for my visually impaired daughter! Now what?”

Parents of children who are visually impaired know that iPads are being used in schools or by their kids’ TVIs. But that doesn’t mean they know what to do with an iPad after it comes out of the box!

I was in this position, too. I am “Mom” to the sweetest and cutest little boy, Ivan. Ivan is eight years old and was born blind and multiply disabled. I had an iPad, and I knew it was supposed to be “good” for my son. Now what? I didn’t even know where to start!

That’s when I wished for a guide like iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible. Larry Lewis’s new book is designed specifically for parents and teachers and takes you step-by-step through iPad basics. He shows you how to set up your iPad and get the most out of the accessibility features. As a blind iPad user himself, he absolutely knows what he’s talking about and (best of all) he writes in a clear and tech-free language that is easy to follow!

Ivan and mom playing with their iPad.

Ivan and mom playing with their iPad.

Larry’s book starts at the beginning (he actually writes about taking the iPad out of the box and what you can expect to find in the box) and works up to much more complicated features (like connecting the iPad to a refreshable braille device or using the iPad as a word processor). And because the book is so easy to follow, it’s pretty simple to skip ahead or jump back based on your own comfort with the iPad and what you need to know.

I would say this book is a must-read for any teacher or parent planning to work on an iPad with a child who is blind. To enter to win a free print copy of the book, visit the iOS Success Giveaway Page and enter your name in the drawing. The contest will run until July 20th at midnight.

Amber Bobnar runs the WonderBaby.org website, a support and information site for parents of children who are visually impaired.