Thursday, December 9, 2010

Workshops Can Be Fun!

Good Morning

Of course on the one day that I don't actually need to wake up at 7am I am awake at 6:30, so here I am writing a post since I can't seem to get back to sleep. Yesterday instead of going to work I got to go to a workshop at the CNIB. It was actually the most fun I've ever had at a workshop. It was a whole day of learning how to make tactile books for visually impaired and blind children. The CNIB had brought in a class of grade 12 students from a local highschool (who apparently now require 40 hours of volunteer work to graduate, so they were there for credits) and put them to work making books for children 6 and under who have visual impairments.

Our son's OT had asked if I would be interested in going a few weeks back and of course I jumped on the opportunity. When I got there she told me she forgot to mention that the volunteer coordinator running it was hoping I'd speak to the kids about the importance of tactile books for the visually impaired from the perspective of a parent. I said of course I would say a few things. Now I'm not sure if you know, but I have panic attack disorder, and I usually keep it under control but speaking in front of people without much prep kind of triggers my panic reflexes. I was okay for the first few seconds and then I kind of started babbling a bit, but I think I made it through without too much confusion and I know I did much better than I would have a few years ago.

After that awkwardness was out of the way, and they had finished explaining how to make the books we got to work. There was a table loaded with craft stuff! I was in heaven. I think I've replaced scrapbooking in my art closet. At first I was a bit overwhelmed and couldn't decide what to make so I did a very simple counting book that will be useful for the little girl I work with (it's all tactile, and very simple so someone without any sight at all can use it) and then once I got into a groove I decided to try something more creative and I started to come up with some better ideas.

There was one other girl there about my age who was an inclusion worker with a low vision child as well, so her and I and our OT sat together and I chatted with her while I worked. It was actually kind of cool being there as a parent, I had a unique perspective and everyone in the room came to me to ask if what they were doing would be suitable for a blind child. I was like some sort of expert, haha. All the books made by the highschool students were to be kept by the CNIB and used by people like my OT to bring out on visits with their clients. Except for me and the other inclusion worker, our OT said we might as well keep our books since we work/live with their clients anyway. Though the OT asked if I could pretty please make her some books to use as well because she loved mine.

The second book I made specifically with Skyler in mind, and I loved how that allowed me to tailor it specifically to his interests and abilities. After the workshop was over I stayed to help clean up and the volunteer coordinator asked if she could do a videotaped interview with me. This time I was much less nervous, all those high school kids had left and it was just me and her. I showed off my book and talked about making it and what I got out of the workshop. I mentioned how it's important in a book for a totally blind child to use very simple illustrations because what might look interesting to us can be very confusing to someone who can't see. She then pointed out that my book was actually rather complex, and I said that that was the beauty of being able to make it for my specific child, it meant I was able to put together something that would be challenging and interesting for him since he does have some sight. All in all it was a great experience, and if you like crafts I would suggest you give it a try cause it's a lot of fun.

And here for your viewing pleasure is Skyler's newest tactile book. I've titled it "Find the Button" and the object here is you guessed it, to find the button on each page.

A foam flower shaped piece with a button in the middle, the stem is a chenille stem and the leaves are microfibre

The tree top is felt, the apples are a broadcloth type material, and one button. The trunk is corregated cardboard and the grass is like that astroturf kind of stuff you'd use as an outdoor carpet.

This Christmas tree is made from a dollar store dish scrubbie (never been used) corrugated cardboard for the trunk, sparkly pipe cleaners & a small button for the decorations. A plastic candy cane, a tiny decorative present and a piece of carpet remnant.

In this scene the button is peeking out from behind a cotton ball cloud. The sun is a piece of shiny gold paper, the water is broadcloth, the boat is foam with a straw and some red cloth for the mast, and the beach is sandpaper with real seashells.

And this page is a simple lift the flap page because Skyler loves flaps and squeakers, so the top piece of fabric is velvet with a squeaker under it, the second is microfibre with a wooden heart under it, and the last is felt with a pink button.

So while I'm no artistic genius, I really did enjoy this craft and I hope when Skyler wakes up he will enjoy his new book. If you do find yourself interested in making a book like this and you need some tips feel free to ask, I learned quite a bit. And the CNIB would happily accept any books you might make if you don't have a visually impaired child yourself.

1 comment:

jennohara said...

How cute are those!? Great job!
We have a few books made by volunteers that are very similar to yours. Very cool!