3. Tactile children’s book

Foto: Nora Gohlke
Foto: Nora Gohlke

A children’s book to touch shows: Inclusion crosses all borders.
The German Central Library for the Blind takes care of people who are blind or see poorly. The library has its seat at Leipzig and is a special library. This library produces books for blind people. They are printed in the special alphabet for the blind. This writing system is called Braille. The library also makes audio books. The library needs a lot of money for that work. It has an association that helps to get donations. This is called a support association.

Visually impaired boy in the German Church School works with special material at his school desk.
Visually impaired boy in the German Church School works with special material at his school desk.

The support association and the library have supported the Nakopa project from the start. They went to schools and associations in Addis Ababa, where blind children and adults learn. Disabled people in Addis Ababa often have similar problems as in Germany. You can find interesting solutions for these problems in Ethiopia. The experts from Leipzig wanted to learn from these ideas.
The partners from Leipzig and Addis Ababa have worked closely together for three years. That was from 2017 to 2019. During that time, they made a touch-and-feel book for children together. Many institutions cooperated on this book:
– The Department of Special Needs Education at the University of Leipzig
– A school in Addis Ababa called German Church School
– The Wladimir Filatow School in Leipzig
– The Heinrich Mann Primary School in Leipzig.
The children from all these schools wrote stories about their city. They painted and glued pictures. Some children were able to see, others were blind. All together, they created exciting pictures of their city.
Then, the contributions from the three schools were gathered. Experts from the university and the library, and a special book designer looked at the works. They created a joint story of the children in both cities.
At the end, the story became a touch-and-feel book for children. Next to the normal black text comes the text for the blind that can be felt with a finger. The pictures can also be touched. They are made of different materials. Their shapes are simple for blind persons to feel them. Now we have a children’s book about Leipzig and Addis Ababa. All children can read it, no matter if they are blind or not. This book was made by children, for children.