Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Adapting Polar Bear Book for Children with Visual Impairments

Polar bear page adapted with braille and tactile card
Working with children with varying degrees of visual impairment can present challenges in adapting books.  This “Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” adaptation is both tactile and colorful with little visual clutter. The book is also translated into braille for braille readers. This adaptation can be put together in activity folders or used with All-In-One boards. 


Tactile Cards-Materials such as faux fur, rubber, foam, felt, buttons, and feathers were glued to pieces of plastic poster board with Velcro added to the back of each card. Plastic poster board was used to increase durability of cards. 

Shadow matching cards and picture sequence cards were downloaded from the Making Learning Fun website. Pictures were glued to pieces of plastic poster board and Velcro added to the backs.


Tactile cards of animals
While reading the story, introduce the animals one at a time using the tactile cards. Each card represents one animal.
Velcro dots with print and braille
Velcro on the back of each card allows the cards to be used on All-in-One boards. Cards are labeled with print and braille labels indicating which animal it represents. Tactile cards can also be used teach students about each animal and what they might feel like. 
Shadow match
A shadow matching activity of each animal develops abstract shape recognition; as the child matches the color animal to the shadow animal. 
Story sequence
Story sequencing activities can be done with either the tactile cards or picture cards. 

Pinterest collage of adapting polar bear book


Not for Phase 1 Kids

Posted by Christine Owen

Posted on October 3, 2016
Updated on: February 7, 2018

Previous comments for Adapting Polar Bear Book for Children with Visual Impairments

Christine Owen commented on October 4, 2016

Although you are marketing this as book for students with CVI, I think it is important to note that this adaptation is not appropriate for Phase I kids if the goal is for them to look. The tactile adaptation is okay if your goal is just for them to participate in the story, but do not expect kids in Phase I and even in Phase II to look, touch, and listen simultaneously. Even though the visual clutter is reduced, this adaptation is visually complex in that it is 2 dimensional, offers an array of different colored objects, has multiple images on one board, and the animals represented by the visuals are probably unfamiliar to most students with CVI in Phase I and Phase II. Students in Phase I and early Phase II rely on light and movement to focus their visual attention. I would think that a light box version of this book may be a more appropriate adaptation for students in the early stages of CVI. 3D objects are also recommended for students in Phase I and early Phase II. I would present 1 object at a time on a black background possibly in a darkened room with a flashlight used to spotlight the visual. I do like the fact that you incorporated the tactile experience as a way to physically involve students with vision impairments into this activity. I also like the shadow activity for students in Phase III; however, I would recommend highlighting the salient features of both the shadow and the original picture of the animal.