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Getting Books into the Hands of My 3-Year-Old, Deafblind Son

Ideas for making tactile books with braille and ASL (sign language) for a preschool deafblind child, created by his mother

My son became deafblind a year ago from Meningitis when he was 2 and 1/2 years old.  Before he became sick, one of his favorite things was to be read to and look at books.  I didn’t want that to stop just because he lost his sight and hearing.  I have created many books for Liam that match his interests and encourage his love for reading.  Below are 4 examples of books that I have made for little Liam.  I always try to use REAL LIFE OBJECTS, not abstract, as often as I can. 

Shape book:

Textured shapes for pictures on each page with the braille word for the shape under each ‘picture’.  When my son ‘reads’ this book we trace the shape on the book and then create the shape with our finger in the air or on our hands. 

Star shape with "star" in print and braille
Star shape with “star” in print and braille
Textured heart with "heart" in print and braille
Textured heart with “heart” in print and braille

Counting book:

I create a ‘flip book’ with objects to count under the flap.  I put the braille number on top of the flap with the objects underneath it.  I also added the sign language picture for each number on the flap as well so whoever is reading the book with Liam will know how to sign the number to him as well. 

ASL sign for "4"
ASL sign for “4”
Four Q-Tips on a page
Four Q-tips under the flap

Face book:

On each page I added a new ‘face part’.  For example, on the first page I added just a face.  I put the braille word for face on the page.  When I would read it to Liam, I would have him feel the face, I would point to his face, and have him feel the braille word for face.  The next page I would put a face on it and then add eyes.  I would repeat the pattern of him feeling the eyes on the page, feeling his own eyes, and then feeling the braille word for eyes.

Tactile book of a face with braille label "mouth"
Tactile book of a face with braille label “mouth”

Liam likes book:

Up until now the books I have made for Liam have been one word books.  I always try to use REAL LIFE OBJECTS not abstract. In this book I used 3-word sentences.  All of the objects are words that Liam knows how to sign.   

I wanted him to start correlating the sign language with the object in the book and then also to the word written in braille.  I thought the best way to do that was to start with signs/words he already knew.

I’m hoping that this will be a bridge to being able to read short story books to Liam as he learns more sign language.

Liam likes puzzles.
Liam likes puzzles.
Liam likes brother.
Liam likes brother.
Liam likes Mommy and Daddy.
Liam likes Mommy and Daddy.

Tip: If you also have a deafblind child like Liam, it helps to add pictures of the words in sign language on the books so that people who are reading the book to your child will know the signs to use. 


tactile book collage

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