Special heroes bring joy of reading to diffabled

For many children, stories from Amar Chitra Katha and Panchatantra are an important part of growing up.
Special heroes bring joy of reading to diffabled
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Chennai

Bedtime stories and fairy tales bring back fond memories. However, children with certain disabilities are denied the simple pleasures of reading, which is important for the development of language and communication skills. 
To ensure that all children have access to books, Namita Jacob, Project Director, Chetana Charitable Trust has started creating accessible versions of popular children’s books. “We are targeting children around ten years of age, for whom books have to be personalised. Our aim is to take mainstream books and make it accessible to any child with any difficulty. Accordingly, we delivered ten copies of books to a few children on Thursday. These are visually impaired children, but attend a regular school. They know the definition of a library and that their school has one, but they cannot borrow any, because there are no books in Braille. When they got the first lot of books from us, they were so happy because they could now read. At that age, children have an incredible capacity for literacy but don’t have access to books. The most favourite book is My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rau and many other titles by Tulika Publications. We ensure the books are textured and meet the needs of children reading them,” she explained. 
Eight-year-old Ashwin, a visually impaired child with a passion for reading, can’t wait to get his hands on the books he has ordered. His mother, Hemavathi J, said, “Ashwin was excited to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and feel the textures, understanding the story through his fingertips. Reading is important for all children. But for children with disability, it is not easy to get books that are accessible. Even in school, unless the worksheets are in Braille, they are not of use to Ashwin. He can only understand the concepts like latitude and longitude, only if he feels the tactile experience,” said the doting mother. 
Vidyasagar, an organisation that works with disability, is hosting a panel discussion titled ‘Children First’ on November 5, at 4 30 pm at  Centre of Excellence Hall, Madras School of Economics, Gandhi Mandapam Road. The focus of the discussion would be to aim for inclusion of children with disability, through literature. “We have several authors on the panel — Shobha Viswanath, Sujata Padmanabhan, Zai Whitaker, and Zainab Sulaiman—whose books have children with disability as a central character. The focus is not on the disability but the characteristics of children — like being naughty. Children with disability are kids, after all. This discussion is important because it will promote children to read the book together and include each other in the conversation. We want children and teachers to understand children with disability and ensure the inclusion happens at an early age,” said Dipti Bhatia, Deputy Director, Vidyasagar.

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