Meadowridge Voices Blog

An inquiry Into Braille

Sindhuja N. (Grade 10)

Explain the Personal Project in your own words.

You have to pick something that is important to you, and off of that you create a product. You can learn new skills, or you can answer an inquiry question... you can do basically anything. I made a product, and based my global context question off of my inquiry question. My global context was fairness and development; in particular, the rights and responsibilities that we have as students.

Tell me about your project.

I made a braille kids' book—that was my product—to raise awareness about the difficulties blind children face. I created a

regular version of the book, too, so children with sight could read it and begin to learn how blind children read and write.

To create the book, I had to learn to read and write basic braille. It was difficult. I've heard about it, but never came into contact with it. I made flash cards to learn, but it's very different: you learn from formation and you write from right to left.

What sparked the idea?

When I lived in South Africa, we used to go and help out at a children's orphanage. That's when I first came into contact with tactile books. The school at the orphanage didn't have the resources for the children without sight, so they couldn't read on their own. They could only feel the books that had tactile images.

I decided to create a tactile book with a braille storyline, so children without sight could read all on their own. I added the printed version below so children with sight could learn more about how children without sight read and write.

Also, my aunt works at a blind and deaf society in South Africa.

Tell me a bit more about the book.

Tactile images are things in a book which can be felt and touched I made it with kids aged seven to ten in mind. To create the book, I bought a slate and stylus. It was really fun, but it was difficult! Everything is so similar. I ended up spending a lot of time on it, but it was fun because it was something I truly wanted to do—I enjoyed it.

After I wrote the story, I made the tactile images.

What are tactile images?

Tactile feeling books will have strips of fur, pieces of different materials, things that children without sight can touch and learn from.

When I talked to my aunt, she explained it well: a blind child can hear the word flower, but they can't visualize it like we can. They've never seen it. So, a tactile book might have a flower petal, and the children can touch the petal and start to develop an idea about what it is and what it might look like.

Tactile images are things in a book which can be felt and touched I made it with kids aged seven to ten in mind. To create the book, I bought a slate and stylus. It was really fun, but it was difficult! Everything is so similar. I ended up spending a lot of time on it, but it was fun because it was something I truly wanted to do—I enjoyed it.

What types of tactile images did you use?

My book is about a little girl who visits South Africa; so, for an elephant I used a thin piece of material with ridges and for a lion I used some fur. I even created a button so kids could press it. It was completely DIY (do it yourself): I took felt and rolled it up, then I put a piece of paper around it so it was 3D. The kids could actually press the button.

I learned early on that simpler is better. You just need a little bit of texture to get that feeling.

Did you face any difficulties with your project?

I kept adding and adding – that was my problem! I wanted to keep adding more and more.

You mention wanting to raise awareness; tell me about that.

I think kids here don't see these types of children very often, so I wanted to first raise awareness, and then have kids understand what it's like. For example, blind children sometimes rock back-and-fourth when they feel uncomfortable or awkward—it's a safe and calming feeling for them. For children who can see, they might think what they're doing is odd, but they won't once they understand why.

It's important for the children here to know that there are kids out there different from them. Different doesn't mean weird. I actually chose my age range based off of my research of cognitive development. I learned that's the age range when kids start to form their own ideas and opinions of the world. I wanted to positively influence their opinions at that crucial time.

How did you conduct your research?

I did a Q&A with my aunt [who works for the blind and deaf society]. I also watched videos, conducted lots of research online, and picked up a book from the Meadowridge Library.

What's a common question you kept being asked at the Personal Project Showcase?

Mainly what inspired me to choose this specific topic. A lot of people—even my parents—didn't understand why I chose it.

Mr. Banack asked me about how braille changes from language to language. That was an interesting question.

What were some of the younger students' reactions at the Showcase?

They were so excited. They thought it was very cool. I wrote out their names in braille and gave it to them. The Grade 5 students just finished learning about Louis Braillele, so they were excited to share what they knew and find out some new things.

Do you think you'll pursue this topic any further?

I think so. Now that I know the basics, I want to learn more. It might be a little easier going forward.

What was the hardest thing about this project?

Definitely making the book. Writing the braille story was very time consuming. I actually wrote it during winter break and I had family visiting, but I told them I just needed to work! It was worth it. I am very proud of the end product.

What was your favourite thing?

Making the tactile images was a lot of fun, using different materials and finding a fun but simple way to demonstrate what was on the page. I just looked for the main element and tried to recreate it as a tactile image.

Are you an avid reader yourself?

Yes! I love reading.

What's your favourite book right now?

The 11th Floor. It's a dystopian novel set in New York about all these different people with different stories, and they suddenly find that their stories merge.

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About Meadowridge

Learning to live well, with others and for others, in a just community.

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12

International Baccalaureate Continuum World School, PYP, MYP, DP

Located in the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada on 27 acres in Maple Ridge

Challenging academic, inquiry-based curriculum, arts, athletics, experiential education

Founded in 1985 with an original enrolment of 85 students