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Tactile Picture Book Making and Multimodal Composition: Students Design for Equity in English Language Arts

Best Practices in Teaching Digital Literacies

ISBN: 978-1-78754-434-5, eISBN: 978-1-78754-551-9

Publication date: 17 September 2018


Purpose – The purpose is to expand multimodal composition frameworks and practices to include tactile design and use of maker technologies, situated in a larger context of designing for equity and increasing access to picture books for children with visual impairments.

Design – As part of the Build a Better Book project, we designed workshops to engage students in composing tactile books enhanced with sound and Braille for young children with visual impairments. Education undergraduates in a children’s literature class crafted tactile retellings over a 2-session workshop, and high school students in an ELA class designed and fabricated 3D printed tactile books over several weeks.

Findings – Both pre-service candidates and high school students developed awareness of the importance of inclusive, equity-oriented design of picture books, and especially for children with visual impairments. They collaborated in teams, developing design skills manipulating texture, shape, size and spatial arrangement to express their tactile retellings and enhanced meaning with sound. The high school students had more opportunity to build technical and computational thinking through their use of Makey Makey, Scratch, and TinkerCad.

Practical Implications – Multimodal composition and making can be effectively integrated into pre-service candidates’ literacy education, as well as high school English Language Arts, to develop multimodal communication and inclusive design skills and values. Success depends on interdisciplinary expertise (e.g., children’s books, tactile design, making technologies, etc.), and sufficient access to physical and digital materials and tools.




This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1615247 and by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.


Dalton, B. and Musetti, K. (2018), "Tactile Picture Book Making and Multimodal Composition: Students Design for Equity in English Language Arts", Ortlieb, E., Cheek, E.H. and Semingson, P. (Ed.) Best Practices in Teaching Digital Literacies (Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation, Vol. 9), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 195-213.



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