November 15, 2023
Clovernook Center is working to get accessible materials into the hands of children with blindness or low vision in East Africa.
Following months of preparation, new partnerships and kit construction, Sam Foulkes, Director of Braille Production and Accessible Innovation, visited educational centers and schools near the Kenyan cities of Nairobi and Mombasa in early October to distribute 2,000 new print/braille books and 3D model kits. The print/braille books consist of print pages that are overlaid with see-through plastic braille embossed pages which create a shared reading experience for print and braille readers. In addition, the 3D models replicate illustrations in storybooks to enhance engagement and learning for braille readers.
“At schools like Thika School for the Blind, I met with teachers and leaders of the school, distributed books and models kits and met with staff to discuss opportunities for partnership to positively impact learning outcomes,” said Foulkes.
This year’s East Africa trip was supported, in part, through a new partnership with Northern Kentucky University (NKU). Under the supervision of Foulkes and NKU English Professor Tamara O’Callaghan, students collaborated with Clovernook Center to develop 3D model book kits and supplemental reading materials including vocabulary and reading comprehension guides for students in East Africa
“The supplemental materials were created in response to feedback we received from educators who participated in our pilot distribution in 2022,” said Foulkes. “They shared that vocabulary definitions at the beginning of each book and reading comprehension questions at the end would provide additional educational value.”
To further support the success of the Tactile Literacy initiative rollout in Africa, Clovernook Center has established its own 3D printing makerspace to allow for internal production and development of tactile models. Through grant funding, Clovernook Center has purchased six 3D printers, an Einscan 3D scanner and a variety of filaments and printing materials with plans to continue growing the Tactile Literacy initiative.
“The next phase of growth for the program includes further development of learning materials, exploration of additional partners and funding sources and the creation of an ordering platform that will allow school partners to select from a library of materials for their particular institution,” said Foulkes.
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