[icebtac] Re: Fw: [accessibleimage] 2 articles from a Mother and book review and info on conference

  • From: "Jean Obi" <jeaneobi@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <icebtac@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 22:11:51 -0800

Thanks to Jacquiss for reminding us that we should be making contributions to 
the listserve.  In my part of the world (Nigeria) we rarely think of producing 
diagrams in books except for simple diagrams that can be produced with the 
braille cell because we do not have the equipment nor can we afford the 
materials to produce diagrams in books.  That does not mean though that we do 
not encourage the use of tactile images.  Our Centre has produced a diagram 
board for use with our brailled secondary school maths books.  It is made of 
plywood, is 30 cm square and has holes drilled every 2 cm, horizontally and 
vertically. We make pegs out of heavy single core electric wire and link rubber 
bands across the pegs to form the diagrams.  Every diagram in the print book is 
described in the text if it is possible to set it up on the board (some are not 
possible) so that the user can set up the diagram on his/her board using the 
pegs and rubber bands or ask his teacher or classmate to do so.  Users can have 
cardboard diagrams of different shapes to peg on the board as appropriate and 
they can make lines across them with rubber bands.  Bar charts and graphs can 
also be set up quite successfully on the board though obviously not to anything 
like the same degree of accuracy as drawn graphs..  The users are also advised 
to prepare braille labels with a punched hole so that diagrams can be labelled. 
We also make a second board from cellotex board (soft board).  One side is 
faced with lino and is used as a drawing board whilst on the other side we use 
board pins, rubber bands and various cardboard shapes. We use a sewing tracing 
wheel instead of the proper spur wheel (these are easily available in local 
markets) for drawing.  We have powdered milk here, not milk in cartons and 
bottles, and the powdered milk comes in two kinds of container, both of which 
provide excellent material for students and teachers to produce good tactile 
diagrams.  There are tins which come with a strong foil inner cover,  Using a 
used-up biro and placing the foil cover on soft board or a drawing mat (which 
we make from old plastic place mats, mouse mats or rubber floor tiles) you can 
produce excellent raised maths diagrams though the size of top limits the size 
of the diagram.  Another form of packing is strong foil sachets.  We cut these 
open to make a flat sheet of foil and use a tracing wheel to produce all types 
of diagrams.  When opened up the sachets produce a sheet of about the size of a 
writing sheet. The wheel produces very good diagrams on this foil.  Many of our 
secondary school (high school) students are in regular schools with little or 
no resource back up or supplies of special materials.  Often these schools are 
boarding schools.  The students collect the tops and sachets from their sighted 
colleagues and thus have a good supply of materials for diagrams.  Their 
colleagues even help them with the diagrams.
This is a rather different situation from that which exists in the more 
economically developed countries where there are many types of advanced 
equipment for making diagrams, which we can neither afford to buy nor afford to 
use and maintain.  So we make the best of what we have. Nevertheless, students 
and teachers in the more advanced countries may find our foil diagrams fun to 
make and good to use too.  Very good permanent diagrams can also be made by our 
local tailors who do machine embroidery.  The local fashions often have 
elaborate embroidery on them and we have had excellent biology diagrams made in 
this way which teachers can bring out year after year.
When I was in New Zealand some time back I saw some wonderful books for small 
children with lovely tactile diagrams made from all kinds of materials at a 
special library there. I'm afraid I've forgotten the name of the library and of 
the people I met there but I still have very vivid memories of what I saw 
there.  I would love to have a go at doing something of that sort but for the 
time being we have to continue providing for the basic textbook needs of the 
children we serve.  I still have the samples I brought back with me and one day 
I hope that we can try to make some available to the small children here.
Even though the methods we use to produce tactile images may not be what most 
of you use or are used to, I thought some readers might find it interesting to 
know how we tackle the problem of producing tactile images, given our limited 

Jean Obi
Coordinator - Nigerwives Braille Book Production Centre, Lagos, Nigeria

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