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A braille book library for children
The ‘Feelix Library’ for children is Vision Australia's response to the need for very young children who are blind or have low vision, to have access to stories like their sighted peers. Parents and siblings can then share wonderful stories together with their child or sibling, and learn about braille. The echidna, called ‘Feelix’ is the symbol of the library, chosen because the echidna has poor vision with very good olfactory and tactual skills.
The name Feelix refers to the feeling of braille dots and the Feelix logo includes the words ‘I can feel the words’ in print and braille. Each child receives a small plastic echidna as their borrowing card - a tag is attached with their name and number brailled on it.
This symbol of Feelix has proven very successful in communicating to the community the importance of pre-literacy skills and story reading to the very young child who is blind or vision impaired.
The patron of the project is well-known Australian actor, Sigrid Thornton.
About the kits
Each kit contains the original picture storybook annotated with braille, an audio CD or DAISY recording of the story, some tactual aids to help the child enter the world of the story and a little handbook with tactile graphics so that children can tell the story to themselves or others.
In producing these kits, simplicity is the essence. The project coordinator looks for the main idea in the story and includes things in the kit for the child to investigate.
Often it is something simple and interesting to feel. For example, a real teapot and enamel cups were included in the kit for The Tiger who came to Tea rather than a soft toy replica of a tiger, which would tell a child who is blind or vision impaired nothing about ‘tigerliness’ anyway.
Each kit also contains DAISY or CD recording of the story, read by a talented voice actor.
A number of well-known Australians have also read for Feelix including Sigrid Thornton, Kick Gurry (Garage Days and Looking for Alibrandi), Jon Faine (ABC 774 talkback), David Treddineck (The Secret Life of Us), Deborah Conway and children's author Hazel Edwards
In recent times performer Vika Bull and authors Carol Goess and Alison Lester have also read stories for us.
‘Kindergarten Kits’ now available for preschoolers, are for children to take to kinder to show their peers how they best access information and have something that is special at kinder. These also educate staff in how best to prepare and provide tactual materials for a child who is blind or vision impaired.
Kits are available in other languages (Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish and Arabic). These alternative language kits allow non-English speaking parents to read to their children in their native language. The braille is in English but the recording is in the home language. The tactile materials and handbook remain the same.
Feelix kit contents
Each Feelix kit contains:
- Small black suitcase
- Print/ braille storybook
- Tactile book
- "Hands-on" materials
- CD or DAISY recording
- Black suitcase
Tactile book (handbook)
- Designed to get children searching for tactual information in order to tell themselves a story.
- A vital step in developing literacy.
- Designed to follow the story of the print book, but can be interpreted in a made up story, just as a child with vision does when they flip through the pages of a story book.
- Relate to the real experiences in the story, eg. in ‘Strega Nona and the Magic Pasta Pot’ there is a metal colander and a pasta spoon. In ‘Meg and Mog’ there is a little metal wok for a cauldron with handmade spiders and bugs to drop in to make the spell.
- To hold something that relates to the story also increases the child's ability to attend for longer periods.
- The inclusion of these hands on materials also models to parents how they can extend their child's experiences e.g. to pour some pasta through the colander or fill the basket with some groceries.
Membership of the Feelix library is open to all young children who are blind or have low vision (aged 0-7years) living in the States and Territories where Vision Australia operates.
Please contact us for membership application forms.
The history of Feelix
The Feelix project started as a response from the family of teacher Helen Smith.
Helen had a longstanding dream to create beautiful tactile books for children who are blind and vision impaired.
In her honor, a memorial fund was set up and this was the beginning of funding for the Feelix project.
Feelix currently consists of over 920 kits which are housed at Vision Australia's Kooyong centre.
The Feelix library includes a wonderful range of classic, entertaining and much loved children's stories. Just some of the titles include: ‘Old Mother Hubbard’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘Harry the Dirty Dog’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat’.
Contemporary books also, like the Maisy Collection and the Lola and Charlie books and most of Alison Lester's books have been included, ‘Rosie sips Spiders’ ‘Tessa snaps Snakes’ ‘Ernie plays the Didgeridoo’ and her books for the young ‘Roar’ and ‘Purr’.
A list of current titles is available here
Feelix Book Week Events
Each year a Book Week Event is held in each state where Feelix is active. So far we have had a ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ day; ‘A Three Little Pigs’ day; ‘A Very Hungry Caterpillar’ day and in 2012 we are having a ‘Can we lick the Spoon Now?’ day. The author Carol Goess will read her story this year.
At these events we have had special readers to read to the children. In 2010 in Melbourne our patron Sigrid Thornton read the story and enjoyed all the activities associated with the morning.
All the food the caterpillar ate was there with little holes in each piece, there was a tunnel to pretend to be in a cocoon and beautiful wings were made by the children to become the butterflies.
Despite all the fun, there is a very serious element to the book days. The experiences reinforce the story reading and help the children who are blind or have low vision to understand the concepts in the story more fully. It has long been held that real life hands on experiences are vital for children to bring meaning to what is being read. So, they are developing literacy skills and a love of being read to.
Feelix Story Mornings
Story Mornings have also been held this year as 2012 is the National Year for Reading. Families have joined us on Saturday mornings to hear stories and interact with all sorts of tactile materials involved with that story.
Guidelines for parents
There are no rules for using Feelix kits. Each family and child will have their own approach. The following document offers a guide for parents on how their child may like to experience Feelix. View the guidelines here
Thanks SO MUCH for our first book - Yummy Yucky. Rosie was so excited with her case and what was inside! We had great fun with the book and item, and if you think it appropriate we would like her to read '10 Fat Sausages' as she loves counting to 10 and she loves her sausages too! Thanks again so much.
Thank you for the Feelix delivery. It is an inspired service, and I am excited by the change in Grace’s interest in books. The tactile books are encouraging her interest in books, which is something that has not happened before! Could you send ‘Kiss Goodnight Sam’ next time please?
Provide stories to young children who are blind or have low vision, in braille and tactile formats that are also accessible to print readers, Independent Living Service for young children.
Books in contracted and uncontracted braille, bi-lingual stories in Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish Arabic and Somali, and a kindergarten collection of Feelix kits. Teachers are also able to borrow if they are teaching children up to Grade 2 who are blind or have low vision.
For children from birth to 7 years who are blind or have low vision.
Referrals to Feelix are made by Case managers or parents ring directly.
Kits are sent out free by post
- Borrowing period:
- Opening hours: