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Great Expectations:  Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids

Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation has recently funded a pilot program: Great Expectations: Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids

The single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for school is to read aloud to that child every day. It begins with picture books, introducing a few words per page, enriched with colorful action-packed illustrations.

But what if the child is blind? How effective are picture books when the child cannot see the pictures? Too often, reading becomes a passive experience for visually impaired kids who miss key learning moments sighted children take for granted.

It’s time to bridge the gap.

National Braille Press—a non-profit braille publisher— in collaboration with Bridge Multimedia—a producer of accessible media—recently launched a pilot program, Great Expectations: Bringing Picture Books to Life for Blind Kids. This program bridges the gap using a multi-sensory approach — songs, tactile play, picture descriptions, body movement, engaged listening — all designed to promote active reading experiences for blind kids centered around popular storybooks.

Parents learn how to describe pictures in a book, how to use voice and body movement to enhance the story line, how to employ 3-D objects for re-enactment, how to have fun telling “the whole story.” Children will learn to listen carefully to words, feelings (voice), actions, scene, plots, and character development—elements that they would otherwise miss by not seeing the pictures.

Let’s not lower our expectations for blind and visually impaired children – all children are capable of great things when given the right tools.

For more information, visit www.greatexpectations.pub or contact Joanne Sullivan at jsullivan@nbp.org.