December 3rd was International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) – a United Nations’ sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights, and well-being.
This day is incredibly important throughout the world, but especially in Ethiopia, where those with disabilities are usually treated as second-hand citizens, if they’re even acknowledged at all.
I’m proud to say that my main school – Adare Primary – is taking steps to rectify this issue. They’ve recently hired a teacher whose sole responsibility is to work with students with learning differences. Of course, you may think, what else would they do? But the harsh reality here is that struggling students, whether physical or mental, are placed in the same classes as their peers, without additional support, and are eventually forced to drop out when they fall too far behind.
As far as I’m aware, our new teacher doesn’t have much (if any) training on working with students with learning differences, especially our blind students who have only a bare understanding of braille. Thanks to a number of you lovely people, I have a handful of braille books on the way (including a guide to teaching braille! – Thanks, Mom). But in support of International Day of People with Disability, I figured I’d make one more plea with you to help support our students with learning differences.
There are so many ways you can help. One way is through Better World Books, an organization that sells cheap, used books and then ships them anywhere in the world FOR FREE! I’ve given detailed information about this organization in a previous blog – The Power of Reading. You could chose children’s books that help them cope with these differences, train teachers on how to interact with students with differences, or books that are just plain fun to read.
There are also braille-specific sites like The Seedlings Braille Books for Children. They have already offered to donate books on their own – Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and A Great Day for Up, as well as Helen Keller and the Big Storm and Pets to the Rescue: Brave Norman. But I’d love to give my students as many options as possible. It is my understanding that students here only learn uncontracted braille, but I haven’t been able to verify anything with the Regional Bureau of Education yet.
Here are some braille books that I think my students might enjoy:
Thomas & Friends: Rolling on the Rails by Rev. W Awdry
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Monster’s Inc: Boo on the Loose by Gail Herman
Scooby-Doo! #2: Disappearing Donuts by Gail Herman
Curious George: The Dog Show by Monica Perez
Curious George Makes Pancakes by Margret & H.A. Rey
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford
Just like with my Better World Books program, if you choose to send any of these books, please let me know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). And please include your mailing address. The kids here love saying thank-you! And you can send the books to:
P.O. Box 1129
Kids born in Ethiopia with physical differences aren’t given the same opportunities as their counterparts, but with your help, we can start to close that gap!
Update: Thanks everyone for showing your support by sending us books! We got over a dozen braille options for the students at Adare.