By Sarah Kingon & Tope Adebola
Lynette Rudman is a qualified pre-primary teacher who used to run a pre-school for two and three year olds from her home in Williston Road. A couple of years ago she found that Colette, the blind three year old girl in her school loved to page through the books in the reading corner and pretend she was reading a story. Rudman said that Colette often asked her sighted peers to tell her what picture was on the page.
This is what sparked Rudman’s interest in tactile book production; she decided to make 3D reading material for Colette by gluing raised shapes in cardboard onto books. “Doing this made the story come alive for the little girl,” said Rudman.
Today, in place of the preschool, there is a thriving workshop where she works as a tactile book designer together with her colleagues Margaret Mabindisa and Liyema Mabindisa and Greanette Nguta.
Tactile books are made out of various materials, and are used to educate blind pre-school children who are not yet able to read. During the initial stages of reading, adult supervision is required. Books like ‘Find it’ can be found in Rudman’s inventory; they are a series of beginner fabric books that allow children to ring bells, smell flowers, and feel different fabrics. Additionally, caregivers can read the story to their children in print or Braille, as both words and raised type are also in the books.
Rudman’s books are in high demand, both locally and internationally. In South Africa, she has sold most of her books to schools for blind children, and helped the Grahamstown Library for the Blind to make similar tactile books. The tactile books have been sold on every continent, except South America. Schools in countries like Sweden, France, and India have requested Rudman’s books, and have translated the text into a wide range of languages.
In 2009, Rudman took on three employees, the aforementioned Margaret, Liyema, and Greanette. These women work four hours a day, then “I work till about 8 p.m. doing prep work for the following day,” said Rudman. The various materials used to make the books are mainly purchased from Jackson’s fabric shop on High Street. Rudman occasionally has to go to Port Elizabeth to get anything that she cannot find in town.
“People like my books because we’re a small outfit, and therefore have more quality control,” said Rudman “their enthusiastic feedback is a great motivating factor for us,” she continued.
Rudman’s award-winning book ‘Spider’s Web, with moveable parts that children can use to construct their own spider web,’ is a great example of the interactive nature of tactile books. The equally award-winning ‘I’m hungry’ is another fun book that allows children to build a hamburger from scratch.
More information about Rudman’s tactile books can be found on www.tactilegraphics.co.za