children's books, creativity, CVI, CVI Literacy, Diane Sheline, diversity, Dr. Christine Roman Lantzy, equal access, learning, Paths to Literacy, picture books, tactile elements, teaching

CVI Literacy Awareness Month

CVI, or cortical visual impairment, is a brain-based visual impairment that is caused due to damage within the brain or the visual pathways.

Literacy is widely defined as “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” (UNESCO 2004)http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001362/13

Dr. Christine Roman Lantzy, a leader in the field of CVI assessment and education, has stated that “Literacy begins when they look.” When a child with CVI can visually fixate on a target and interpret it, the child is working to build a visual memory of the target that they can later refer to when the target is presented in different contexts.

As a teacher for the visually impaired and a children’s writer, I love the challenge of creating a meaningful book for a student whether their visual impairment is ocular or brain-based. It is incredibly gratifying to create something that opens the door to literacy for a student.

This link shares creative examples of books created for students with CVI by Diane Sheline, a TVI (teacher for the visually impaired) and a CLVT (certified low vision therapist). https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/adapting-books-and-literacy-students-cvi

There are a few commercially available books that, with adaptation, can be useful for students with CVI, but there could easily be more.

Something I’d like to see is the publishing world getting pro-actively involved in fostering greater equality of access for children with diverse literacy needs.

Below is a YouTube video on one teacher’s effort in modifying a book for a student with CVI.

And this link will take you to an article that talks more about adapting books for children in each of the three phases of CVI. //www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/adapting-books-children-cvi-all-3-phases.

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APH, characters, Charlotte Cushman, children's books, creativity, interactive story ideas, Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Paths to Literacy, picture books, Tactile Books, teaching, The Shape Trilogy, Typhlo & Tactus

Its All In The Touch

As a teacher for Pre-K students who are visually impaired/blind, I often adapt picture or board books for my students by adding tactile features to a published book. I modify many materials based on my students abilities and particular interests. It’s always a creative challenge.

And when I came across an article by Charlotte Cushman about the Typhlo and Tactus contest, which encourages those who are interested in creating tactile books to enter their contest, I thought I’d give it a shot. If you’re interested in checking out her article you can find it at http://www.pathstoliteracy.org.

I knew right off the bat that I wanted to create a book about shapes. Few of the shape books presently in the picture book market have story lines that my students have engaged with. The shape trilogy by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are exceptions. The other thing I knew was that an oval was going to be the main character in my story. Many of my students struggle with shape identification, whether its visual or tactile, but somehow they consistently know oval. That never fails to surprise me.

Oval is the only oval in Shapeville and he wants to fit in.

As a children’s book writer, creating the text of the story and visualizing what I wanted the tactile images, who were the story’s characters, to convey came a whole bunch easier than the making of the characters and their interactive tactile images. But thanks to some brainstorming and ingenuity from my husband, who builds fine scale models of aircraft and vehicles for a hobby, my ideas for manipulative images became a reality.

Together we made each character. John engineered their interactive elements, including a spinner and a seesaw!

After a lot of time and effort, It Takes All Sorts is ready to be sent off.

Wish us luck!