Favorite Children's Titles Turned Tactile in Public Library Makerspace Program

High school students transformed children's books into 3-D printed creations that could help visually impaired youth experience the stories.

The Mountain Lakes (NJ) Public Library (MLPL) Makerspace has been closed during the pandemic, because the basement space is not safe for staff or patrons. But that hasn't kept makerspace manager Ian Matty from running programs. One of his fall offerings was a 10-week Build a Better Book project that tasked high school makers with taking favorite children's books and transforming them into a tactile experience for visually impaired young readers. The books made tactile were If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Brown Bear, Brown, Bear, What Do You See?, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Rainbow Fish.

This tactile book project is a MLPL Makerspace partnership with Build a Better Book, an organization that works with school and library makerspaces to design and create accessible picture books and graphics for the blind and visually impaired.

[READ: UPDATED: High Schoolers, Public Library Makerspace Collaborate on Projects for Visually Impaired Students]

Seven high schoolers took part in the MLPL program. They met virtually every Saturday for an hour, and Matty would print their designs on the makerspace 3-D printers and leave them to be picked up by the students at the library's circulation desk. When the projects were finished, the group did a Zoom presentation for an audience that offered feedback in the chat.

"It was the best meeting chat I have been part of, including positive comments, a tremendous amount of feedback and ideas for improvements/additions, and educators interested in receiving the prototypes to test with their students," Matty said via email.

An educator from the hearing loss intervention program Sound Start for Babies attended the Zoom presentations and wants to learn more about the project and adapting the books for the organization's students.

"This illustrates the benefits of students learning to create with universal design principles," said Matty. "It makes it much easier to show educators and students that fun and engaging accessible games and books are possible."

With the success of the children's book program, Matty is hoping to start a tactile science program in January. The four-month project would aim to create tactile resources to help teach and promote science.

Take a look at the process and children's book projects below.

A look at the design sketches for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from the Zoom presentation.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book illustration and design, screenshot from the presentation.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 3-D printed bear.

An octopus from The Rainbow Fish.

Green Eggs and Ham printed design.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie 3-D printed puzzle connectors concept with Braille.

Piece of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie printed design.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie maze concept with movable mouse that can be guided through the maze.

 

 

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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