To publish and distribute tactile books to promote the integration of blind, partially sighted and sighted children was the aim of the project launched in November 2010 by the National Federation of Institutions for the Blind (a non-profit organisation) and supported by Enel Cuore. As part of the initiative, six tactile books have been provided free of charge to public libraries, paediatric wards and institutions involved in the promotion of reading in order to facilitate scholastic and social integration of partially and non-sighted children all over Italy, from the Aosta Valley to Sicily. Each of the six books had a print run of 1,000 copies, a significant undertaking, given that tactile illustrations are thicker than the page and are made entirely by hand using materials that, when touched, can evoke the objects being referenced. The books also require handmade bindings that enable them to be opened fully when laid on a flat surface in such a way as to allow both the reader’s hands to explore the text (printed and in braille) and the illustrations simultaneously. Furthermore, sufficient spacing between each page needs to be ensured.
The fact that the books are so costly and complicated to produce means that it’s essential to find funding that can help reduce these costs. And this is where the contribution to the “A spasso con le dita” (“Strolling with fingers”) project, which helps the spread of tactile books all over the country, is so important. The six titles published so far are: Giorgetto l’animale che cambia aspetto (Little George, the Animal That Changes Appearance), Soffio di vento (A Gust of Wind), Ho un po’ paura (I’m A Bit Afraid), Versi tra versi (Verses Between Verses), Tutt’altro (Completely Different) and Settestella (Seven Stars).
Tactile books represent a useful tool, not only for introducing children to reading, stimulating curiosity and developing perceptive exploration, but also for promoting dialogue and integrating non-sighted children and parents with their sighted peers.
Due to the success of tactile books, in 2013 the Federation and Enel Cuore decided to promote this type of publication through a travelling exhibition of tactile works. The common theme of the works in the exhibition is “The words of solidarity”. Indeed, the project aims to redefine the concept of social solidarity pursued by Enel Cuore and to celebrate 10 years of its commitment to charitable causes. It takes the form of a little child-sized tactile museum, with works to touch and handle, all created by renowned artists and illustrators. These works also provide the inspiration for a series of educational and recreational workshops designed to introduce the public to the potential of multi-sensorial illustration.
Since 2013 the exhibition of tactile books, which was created thanks to the involvement of 16 children’s book illustrators, has been on display in 23 exhibition spaces all over Italy.
Location: all of Italy
Association: Federazione Nazionale delle istituzioni pro Ciechi- onlus (National Federation for Institutions for the Blind, a non-profit organisation)
Intended beneficiaries: Blind or partially sighted children, public libraries, paediatric wards, institutions for promoting reading.
Total contribution destined for the organisation: 300,000 euros