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Non-fiction script question

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Hi, I have a cool new assignment. I am writing scripts for a book for the blind. The book will have brief braille passages and be connected to a new machine/computer kind of thing that will store a less brief voice over giving a little bit of time to discuss issues in depth. (Picture a kiosk at a museum where you push the buttons to hear about a topic, that's  fairly close to what I'm doing).

It's more cool than that description, but let me get to my question. I am used to paying attention to reading levels etc. The target audience is middle school. Here's the question, do I get to push the FK higher because they will be hearing this instead of actually reading,  -- in general scripts have to use short sentences, so that part isn't going to jump the reading level, but the vocabulary words are tough. Or do I need to think even easier terms because they need to keep all the information orally instead of visually? Or do those cancel out?

The topic is the biomes of the world. So it's earth sciences, environment, ecology, geology...

Thanks
amy

#1 - April 28, 2008, 09:46 AM
How Things Work (Publications International, 2006)
Bugs & Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter (Boyds Mill Press, 2010)
Touch the Earth (NASA, 2009)

~wren

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Congratulations, Amy -- this does sound exciting!  :applause
A friend told me once about writing testing material that was to be read aloud by the teacher and noted that "more repetition of key words" was important for this type of work.
That's all I have to offer, but maybe it's a start.
#2 - April 28, 2008, 11:32 AM

CarrieAnn

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Congrats on the project! It sounds really interesting.

I worked my way through college assisting kids with disabilities, and I worked with a few blind students. Of course, these are college level, but some of the info may be helpful to you. I noticed that the vocab was generally up, but key words were repeated as wren has already said. One of the things that always bothered me, though, was that it was obvious that the writer hadn't read the piece aloud. There were some phrases that came out as tongue twisters when read aloud that would have been innocuous in print. A lot of alliteration also read a little bumpy and sounded too nursery-rhymey or sing-songy in that format. So the best piece of advice I can offer is to read that puppy out loud!
#3 - April 28, 2008, 12:30 PM

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Amy, this is a cool assignment.  I'd think that blind kids HAVE to rely on their ears and are used to picking up all kinds of information by being read to.  Just like with really little kids -- you can read all kinds of big words to them and they get meaning from the context (or the parent explains).  I think because the kids are in middle school, you wouldn't have to worry about reading levels too much. You could write the way you teach ... if a big word comes up, define it right away.  What are the publisher guidelines?

Do let us know how this goes.  I think it's challenging.  What does *green* mean to a child who was born blind.  The feel of grass?  My cousin was born deaf and so the concept of a song or tune is completely alien.  Of course, she feels vibrations and she knows that sounds are vibrations ... but she simply has no concept for music except for rhythm.  I think you'd have to use very descriptive language using more of the other senses besides sight so that the blind child can create a picture in his mind's eye.

Good luck.
Vijaya
#4 - April 28, 2008, 08:36 PM
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Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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New!
Thank you for all of your responses.

 I am proceeding writing as I normally would write for 7th graders, except that because scripts keep sentences short -- it's harder to hold an several independent/dependent clauses in your head when you hear them, then when you see them —  I'm finding that I'm coming up with fifth and sixth grade levels instead of seventh. This is okay.

For those of you who asked who is doing this, it is a government project (NASA). I don't know who the ultimate publisher will be, if it GPO, or they will contract it out.  I don't think they will hire more people. Though I will certainly post something if I am asked to find more help.

The other books in this series are Touch the Sun and Touch the Universe by Noreen Grice (she wasn't available for this one, so I got very lucky!). They were published by John Henry Press, part of the National Academy of Sciences. This one is different in that it is not "just" a wonderful braille book but includes these short recordings, allowing us more space to describe the biomes.

cheers
amy

#5 - May 02, 2008, 09:39 AM
« Last Edit: May 02, 2008, 10:25 AM by Amy S »
How Things Work (Publications International, 2006)
Bugs & Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter (Boyds Mill Press, 2010)
Touch the Earth (NASA, 2009)

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