IBBY-Yamada 2013: France

Les doigts qui rêvent – Raouf Karray Project

Early literacy starts long before learning to read and write, the pleasure of reading begins with parents reading aloud while the child looks at/touches the pictures; pictures help “to name the world” and understand it. Visually impaired children are deprived of this and don’t have the same opportunities as sighted children because they do not always have accessible books. If books are available, they are usually only as of the first school grade and only in Braille. Tactile illustrated books (TiB) are very important, because they can provide images of a world that these children cannot see, images they can discover through touch.

This project was developed to provide young visually-impaired children from Arabic speaking countries with TiB, in order to give them access to reading and their culture. The project was a collaboration between the Tunisian author/illustrator/university teacher Raouf Karray and the French publisher Les doigts qui rêvent (Dreaming Fingers=Ldqr).

The idea was to produce two TiB books in Arabic and Braille by Arab authors: the first book for visually-impaired children from 3 to 5/6 years old was “The Five Senses” by Bayan Safadi (Syria) and the second book for visually-impaired children from 6 to 10 years old was “Ghassan Knows to Find the Nicest Place” by Nabiha Mehaidly (Lebanon).

These two books are accessible to sighted and to visually-impaired children, because the visually-impaired children should be able to share them with their sighted peers and their sighted families, which is an important part of their social integration. Also, visually-impaired parents should be able to share these books with their sighted children.

Raouf Karray created the initial draft of visual graphics for the two books in Tunisia and then worked with the Ldqr team in France to create a bi-modal (visual and tactile) version. The Ldqr team then worked on the tactile aspect of the prototypes (layout of the braille and large print in Arabic, choice of materials, trials of sewing, gluing and laser cuts).