Thursday, April 28, 2005


What happens when an Assistant Professor at IIT, a special educator and a talented 8th standard student get together for a purpose?

That’s what I found out when I met Dr. Shanti Bhattacharya, Namita Jacob and Kaveri Murthy at the launch of ‘Where is the button’, an interesting book concept, that any child can read. Yes, any child!

As part of the Chetana Charitable Trust’s efforts, the book attempts to bridge the diverse learning needs of children with varying abilities. For instance, while it looks like any other storybook, it also has the story at the base of the page in Braille, for children with visual impairment. There are buttons on tassels, tied to the book, to add a ‘touch and feel’ factor.

“It all started when I found it difficult to choose the right books for my daughter last year. Namita, as a special educator, drew attention to the fact that Indian pre-school children with low vision or vision impairment didn’t even have books, leave alone the choice. Their first exposure to reading is with studies as against reading for fun. That’s how, the idea for this book was born.” Says Shanti, a Trustee at Chetana and looking very unlike the stereotypical starched cotton sari clad, stern professor I assumed I was meeting.

Namita Jacob, a Key Resource Person for the project says, “We developed the book over 8 months. Shanti wrote it, and Kaveri illustrated it. I then pre-tested it. We changed a few things based on the feedback, and went into print.”

“Just the other day, somebody brought to our notice that the book can achieve one more purpose – for visually impaired parents to read to their non-visually impaired children!” says Shanti.

The book, ‘Where is my button’ is sold as a non-profit product only at Goodbooks stores in Abiramapuram and Anna Nagar. 

(Pic courtesy Seven Shots as published in Madras Plus)

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