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Technology Rocks: Tactile Books, Early Literacy and 3D Printers

on July 17, 2014

A picture is worth 1,000 words…but what if you couldn’t see it?…

Illustrations support early literacy in various ways–they engage very young readers and hold their attention, they build print motivation (the interest in books and desire to read), they provide contextual clues to help newly independent readers figure out new words and story arcs, they provide a way for adults to talk about the story with their children and develop their narrative skills–all skills children need whether they are sighted or not.

Tactile alphabet systems such as Braille are a well-known adaptation for visually impaired readers, but less widely known is the practice of creating tactile picture books for visually impaired children.  Unfortunately, such books are challenging to design well, and are costly to produce.

goodnight moon

But a team at University of Colorado Boulder is working to create a cheaper, faster way to print tactile picture books using an increasingly common technology (and one found increasingly in library technology labs): the 3D printer.  The Tactile Books Project has created fully tactile versions of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, in addition to various picture puzzles, using 3D printers.

To learn more about this project, explore the pages of these newly accessible classics, or sign up for their newsletter, visit the Tactile Books Project website.


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