Hippocampus Opens the World to Visually Challenged Children
In a world where children are spoilt for choice with new and exciting products, services and experiences, equity among children is the next challenge. Providing access for differently-abled children to integrate them as closely as possible with the mainstream is a Himalayan effort in itself, and taking the right step forward is the Creative Resource Centre (CRC) housed within the Hippocampus Children’s Library in Chennai.
CRC has now developed a series of audio books, Braille books and tactile toys and books which open out a whole wealth of knowledge and information to visually impaired children. The program aims to stimulate the creative development of these children and positively impact their emotional and intellectual growth.
Chandni Khanna, the director of Hippocampus, explains, “We at Hippocampus are extremely proud to house books for the visually impaired. This is a first, humble step towards inclusion.
Educational material and resources offered to the visually impaired are almost solely devoted to basic curricular materials that help a child take the exams. There are very few resources or materials that cater to their holistic development. The CRC was set up for the wholesome development of visually-impaired children between four and fourteen years.
The CRC contains over a hundred Braille titles drawn from books by popular children’s publishers all over India. The Centre also has a collection of famous folktales in the audio format.” Another interesting collection is the tactile toys, touch-and-feel books. “They are books with interesting and varied textures enabling a child to enjoy the feel of the book as they read. Tactile books are a lot of fun and a great way to introduce a visually-impaired child to literacy,” she adds.
Apart from this, Hippocampus also regularly conducts events for children. Talking about some of their upcoming projects, Chandni says, “We are looking forward to launching school library services shortly. We do this by helping schools set up and run active, vibrant library spaces which includes choosing and sourcing appropriate books for school, training and supporting librarians, developing curriculum for library hours and measuring reading standards over time.
We are also curating book boxes (books with themes and activities) which will enable the schools to integrate the library in the classroom.”
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