In an Australian first, a children’s book has been launched with a braille and low vision companion version - and NextSense, in collaboration with author Narelda Joy, was able to make it happen.
Tasmanian newborn babies who are blind or have low vision, and their parents, now have access to a free accessible version of Narelda’s book ‘Tassie Rhymes for little tigers'.
The brainchild of the Toast for Kids charity, the book was created to encourage parents of newborn babies to read aloud to their child every day, from day one. It is free to families of newborn Tasmanian babies, to encourage early literacy.
Wanting to make the book more accessible, the charity connected author/illustrator Narelda with NextSense, and we worked together to completely redesign the original book, including illustrations.
Our accessibility experts developed the large print and braille texts, advising on the large size and style of print to cater for low-vision users. Narelda accepted advice on accessibility, which included having clear and simple line drawings with significant colour contrast between the outline, background and fill, and the need for uncluttered text with no background graphics, patterns or watermarks.
NextSense Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Sonali Marathe flew from Sydney to Hobart to attend the book launch hosted by the Governor of Tasmania Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, at Government House.
‘This was a truly collaborative effort between Narelda, the author and illustrator, and our braille and large print transcribers. It was the first time we had been involved in a project where accessibility and book design were considered right from the start,’ Sonali said.
‘The book is designed with blind and low vision readers in mind. It was exciting because parents and grandparents who are blind or have low vision can share the joy of reading the same book to their child or grandchild. It was also exciting because children will be able to get early exposure to braille or large print.’
Author Narelda Joy was genuinely shocked when she heard that there were very few ‘picture books’ for young children who are blind or have low vision, ‘and that most were made at home by parents. Hopefully, this book will be a step in the right direction to rectify this,’ she said.
‘There are so many exciting possibilities available for children who are blind or have low vision. For example, NextSense can produce a braille outline of a character from a children’s book so a child can trace it with their fingers, or a 3D model of an animal or character that a child can hold and feel while the book is being read, to get a sense of its shape.’
‘Tassie Rhymes for little tigers' is available at select Tasmanian bookstores and community groups, with the braille version of the book available directly through Toast for Kids Charity Inc.