Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Tactile American Flag

Tactile American flag with braille
I saw NBP's (National Braille Press) tactile American flag posted on social media (I believe I saw it on Paths to Literacy Facebook feed).  I knew that I wanted to get it for my son to give him on the Fourth of July!  With the price only being 5 dollars, it was definitely affordable!  My son Liam is 7 years old, an early braille reader and he happens to be deafblind.  
 
I presented the tactile American flag to Liam on the Fourth of July.  I told him today was a special day.  Today is our country's birthday.  America is the country we live in. 
 

Background Knowledge about the American Flag

Liam knows what a flag is.  He knows the Pledge of Allegiance from school.  Liam and his interpreter were able to lead the class every morning with the Pledge of Allegiance in Sign Language (he attends a mainstream classroom).  All of his classmates could sign along.  We have made our own American flags together in past years for the Fourth of July.  That is about the limited background knowledge that Liam has about our country and the American flag (that I am aware of). Of course, I would like to help him understand and experience more.  
 

Exploring the Flag

When Liam first touched his new "special" American flag, he was instantly excited.  He enjoyed exploring his new flag.  We located the stars and the stripes.  When he found the braille on his flag he got this surprised look on his face!  He turned to me and signed, "braille!".  He was so excited that his flag had braille.  When we read his flag together, he was even more excited that he knew it was the Pledge of Allegiance!  We had discussions about the stars and the stripes.  We felt the different textures.  Liam wanted to show his little brother right away.  He wanted to follow his brother's hand as he explored the flag as well!  Liam has shown it to his friends and family and has asked to bring it with him on different outings.  I will also be sending it so summer school with him as well because he wanted to show it to his TVI.  They can enjoy working on reading it together as well.  
 
Signing about American flagLooking at flag with younger brother
 

Opportunities to Expand

What has been great about this flag is that it has supported many different opportunities for conversation, such as discussions about our country, about the symbols on the flag, how many stars and how many stripes, etc.   I have been able to add information every time we talk about his flag.  Most importantly to me was that it was motivating for Liam!  He enjoyed his special flag.  I've always believed it is so important to give our children with vision impairments chances to have their world accessible to them whenever and however we can -- for our children to be included, especially during holidays.  
 

Description of the flag (on the NBP website):

  • These brilliant, red, white and blue flags from KBTI (Kansas Braille Transcription Institute) feature tactile stars and stripes. The tactile horizontal red stripes are labeled with the lower case "r" at the far right, and the white stripes are labeled with the lower case "w."
  • The Pledge of Allegiance is displayed in large print over the red and white stripes, in alternating black and white lettering, and is also written in braille over the red stripes. Immediately beneath the flag is a key in braille. Flags measure 7.5" x 9.5".
  • It is printed on thermoform paper.
  • You can choose contracted or uncontracted braille.

 

Editor's note:  Other flags are available through the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute as well.
 

Pinterest collage of tactile American flag with braille

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