CNIB's Readasaurus Kit is a fun and practical tool to develop essential early literacy skills in children with vision loss.
Karen Brophey, Content and Programs Coordinator, at CNIB Library, helped to launch the kits last January. In 2015, 300 kits were distributed to children aged zero to six years
But, thanks to the continuing support of lead
sponsor, Green Shield Canada and to other generous patrons, CNIB will be able
to distribute a further 1,500 kits to families across Canada over the next two
Kit was developed with input from early intervention specialists, teachers,
rehab workers and CNIB library staff as a fun tool for parents and children.
there are different challenges for anyone reading with children who are blind
or have low vision. "You need to describe the pictures, and choose books
that relate real life experiences the child has had," she says. For
example, it may be hard for young children with vision loss to imagine what a
zoo looks like if they've never been to one or don’t see well enough to see a
picture of a zoo.
To help the
Readasaurus Kit contains a Family Guide outlining the importance of literacy,
family story time, as well as the types of books to share with children with
vision loss. Karen suggests books with bright colours and high contrast or
books that feature textures are a great choice. "If you are reading about
a fork, hand the child a fork," she says. "They can touch and feel it,
and gain an understanding of what it is so the story will make more sense to
one of the reasons why parents of children who are blind may find tools like
the Readasaurus Kit so useful: while sighted children see text everywhere (many
parents can attest to the fact children understand what the golden arched M
means), young children who are blind rely on sighted parents, caregivers and
teachers, to help them make the connection between text and information.
Kit comes with a hands on activity book that contains fun activities, such as a
tactile maze that can be used to teach tracking skills (a precursor to reading
braille) and tactile colouring sheets that teach shapes, helping a child learn
how more complex tactile images may be constructed. Karen suggests another way
to show children who are blind or partially sighted the role of books and the
concept of reading independently, is to get a braille labeller and add braille
to your children's story books. Braille labellers are available from ShopCNIB. Large print and braille common word
stickers (e.g. girl, boy, cat, dog) are also included in the kit to help
families get started.
Another skill the Readasaurus Kit helps
develop in young children is listening. The kit includes three audio stories
from the Dolly Parton Imagination
Library. Memory, comprehension and organization
are all linked to listening skills which may be especially useful for children
with vision loss.
The Readasaurus kit is a vital tool in
helping parents and teachers introduce braille to children who are blind or
have low vision. Braille is not only for kids who have zero vision. Access to
technology will never replace the need for braille – especially for children
who are learning to read. And while learning braille might seem complicated, as
Karen says, "It's nothing to be afraid of; it’s just six dots."
For information on family literacy and
raising your own Readasaurus, visit CNIB’s website about alternative literacy
for kids and teens with vision loss: Altlit.ca.
For more information on the Readasaurus Kit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.