[bksvol-discuss] Re: Describing Pictures In Children's Books

  • From: Ann Parsons <akp@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 08:10:51 -0500

Hi all,

Grandma, I think you're doing just fine. For children and adults who are blind, and especially for those of us who were born blind, descriptions of pictures should be as detailed as you want to make them. Use color. This is a good learning experience for kids because they have to know about color. They have to be able to understand the meaning, the intellectual meaning of blue or purple or yellow. they also need to understand, in simple terms about perspective, that things look smaller if they are farther away, much as a sound is fainter if it is far away. They need to understand the difference between background and foreground too. Like a person may be the main feature of a picture, but that person is standing on a beach, back to the ocean, and so on.

As for not mentioning the ethnicity of the children in the pictures, Grandma, that's like saying you won't tell a kid that there's a brown or a black or a pokadotted dog in a picture. A sighted kid is going to see an Afro-American kid and is going to recognize the ethnicity. He is going to see a blond girl with blue eyes, or a Chinese boy with almond shaped eyes and the slant that they have. Sighted kids see this and they are taught to recognize what they see. It is part of the identification process. Think you may be confusing description with value judgments. You can say, I see three Afro-American people walking up the street. There is a mother, a father and a little girl in a bright pink dress. That places no value judgment on what you see at all, it's just description. If, on the other hand you added an evaluation to the description, e.g. that blond man looks nice. That dark man looks bad. Then, you'd have a problem. Data is data. What the human mind does with that data is its problem.

<smiling> Now, if you're blind and you don't have a describer handy, you can really get yourself into trouble. Here's a graphic example. Our Secretary of State is Condoleezza Rice. Well, I heard the name, I must have read it in the online newspapers, but I invisioned a tall, Scandinavian looking person with long blond hair and so on. I only found out a couple of years ago that Condoleezza Rice is Afro-American. I was totally blown away! I mean, I was completely surprised. So, if you think that alerting kids to what ethnicity the children in the pictures are doesn't matter, it does. So, just describe. Don't evaluate, just describe. You'll do just fine!

Ann P.

Ann K. Parsons
Portal Tutoring
EMAIL:  akp@xxxxxxxxxxxx
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost."

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